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20.04.05
Skateboard pair spark phenomenon

Faltown Skateboards demonstrate their 'sliding' technique using specialist skateboardsFaltown Skateboards demonstrate their 'sliding' technique using specialist skateboards

Two former art students who have sparked off a skateboard phenomenon from a spare bedroom are to launch their own online shop.

Chris Humphris, 23, and Alex Brinnen, 25, graduated last year from Falmouth College of Arts, now University College Falmouth, in Graphic Design and 3D Design and Sustainability respectively.

While studying their degrees the pair spent a lot of their time 'sliding', or downhill freestyling, a skateboarding technique that, rather than jumps, involves spectacular slides and turns using gloves. They began filming themselves and loading the films onto a website, which has become massively popular, particularly in the USA and Brazil.

In 2003 they formed a skateboarding team which has drawn international attraction as the only Downhill Freestyle specific team in the world. The team has appeared on the Extreme Sports channel and recently in California. Last year the six riders were awarded the best 'sliders' in the country and are acclaimed by aficionados as being among the best in the world.

And with the help of Objective One investment, they have begun their own business which looks set to boom. Faltown Skateboards is the only skateboard company in Cornwall and the first company in the UK to bring out specialist boards and equipment for this market.

"The Americans think it's really cool that we have had financial help from the EU," said Alex. "It really began in 2003 when we started to think that this could be a real company as opposed to just making a few boards for friends."

While still at college the pair convinced Random Rides, in Falmouth, to take some of the boards, which are longer than normal skateboards, and it quickly ran out of stock. They started a business plan, with help of West Cornwall Enterprise Trust and the Prince's Trust, and then approached SWIG (South West Investment Group).

With the help of SWIG, which has received Objective One investment to offer interest free loans to eligible businesses, the pair designed four boards along with a whole range of hardwearing leisurewear. The online shop, www.faltownskateboards.com will be launched on May 3. All this has been done from a spare bedroom in Chris' parents' house.

John Peters, SWIG spokesman, said: "I am very impressed by what Chris and Alex have achieved in such a short space of time, in addition to graduating. This is a very exciting, dynamic multi-media venture. Faltown is spreading the word that Cornwall is the place to be and the place to go."

The first short film was of the pair slide skating around Falmouth. Once it was put onto their website hits jumped from about 2,000 a month to 30,000. Five films later, including the latest where the team visited San Francisco and Berkeley California, the website receives an average of 66,000 hits a month.

They have also been helped by meeting slide skate expert Cliff Coleman, who lives in Berkeley and has put the team forward as one of the best. He has also agreed to use their equipment.

"The response to our films was insane," said Chris. "It got to a point where people were having online discussions about whether the films were real."

Alex added: "Since going to America the people we met over there are making makeshift Faltown logos because they can't wait for our range to come out. That is exactly what we want for others to get involved in what we are doing. We already use other students to put music and graphics on our website and for the films."

The website encourages involvement and also has interactive lessons on sliding, showing many moves invented by the team.

For further information contact Clare Morgan at the Objective One Partnership on 01872 223439 or email: cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the South West Investment Group (SWIG) through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

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Editor's notes:

Chris and Alex are available for interview or to supply other photographs on 01326 212017 or e mail info@faltownskateboards.com.

Downhill Freestyle, also known as 'sliding', is a new style of skateboarding that is beginning to become very popular. Faltown Skateboards is the only skateboard company in Cornwall and the first company in the UK to bring out specialist boards and equipment for this market.

SWIG (South West Investment Group): was set up in 1989 and offers interest free loans to eligible businesses. It manages an Objective One gateway scheme, Cornwall Business Development Funds, which offers three levels of start ups. In the first part of the scheme 180 Cornish small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) were supported. The second phase of the scheme, worth more than £2 million, began early in 2005.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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