Kimberley’s Kevin Honeyman is currently promoting the release of a feature film documenting the Sullivan Challenge Skateboard Race, which after 20 years is now the longest running annual skateboard race in the world.
The film is entitled Twenty Years of the Sullivan Challenge and will premiere on July 1, 2022 at the Kimberley Conference Centre. Tickets are available at the Berley Skate store or at https://berleyskate.com/.
READ MORE: The 20th Annual Sullivan Challenge Longboard Race
Kimberley’s Berley Skate is one of the presenting sponsors of the documentary. The company has been making longboards for Landyachtz since 1997 and opened a factory shop in Kimberley in 2014. The film follows Jody Willcock, owner and race organizer of Berley since the first in 2002, as she prepares for the 20th Sullivan Challenge.
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Honeyman, a local musician, handled the production and editing of the project and created the soundtrack, no small feat to say the least. First he had to dig up all his footage, contact other racers and viewers to get theirs from the past two decades, sift through it all for the best shots, and then edit it into an hour and a half feature film.
READ MORE: Local musicians share their experiences overcoming a pandemic
He’s not entirely sure, but Honeyman suspects he’s been putting thousands of hours into this project
“I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while so I spoke to Honeyman because he’s capable and an old friend and he took up the challenge,” Willcock told the Bulletin. “It was all him, he tried so hard. And of course it includes all his music, he’s been working hard lately making tons of original material so this is a big compilation of his last few years of work.”
A hugely popular attraction that always coincides with Kimberley’s annual July Festival, the race always had at least a few cameras rolling. Willcock remembers that on the very first film, four people filmed the race, so he made a 20-minute film out of it on his old computer.
“Since there’s always people with footage, it’s just hard to get it out of their closets,” he said. “It’s easier to get now. Because we were such a small group of us in the early days, we all knew each other, so we knew who had the footage and it was just a matter of convincing them to dig it up.”
Honeyman said the idea of putting some media together and posting it on YouTube was something they’d been talking about for years. This new film is a starting point for that.
In the 20 years that the race has been running, a lot of different skateboarders have competed, the equipment has improved and the race has gotten faster, but there’s always been quite a family atmosphere that has gone along with it.
“We’ve really let three generations of skateboarders get through, but it’s always the same. I don’t even know what to call it,” Honeyman said. “Just the camaraderie of the skateboarders and how it worked with the city back then, it works really well together. So that’s always been the same, but you can really see the progression of downhill skateboarding throughout the film.”
Willcock’s commitment to skateboarding extends well beyond organizing the first race in 2002. In the late 1980s, at age 14, he applied for a Kimberley Credit Union loan to open a skateboard retail store out of his bedroom, as there were nowhere to get boards locally at the time.
A few years later, the Credit Union gave him an award for being the youngest person to receive a business loan from them. Flashback to 2014: Along with partners Noah Wesche and Aaron Christensen, he bought the building that formerly housed the bank and turned it into a retail and manufacturing space for their innovative skateboard designs, which they produce for the longboard Manufacture giant land yachts from Vancouver.
He currently has a great crew producing about 30 boards a day with 80 percent of their products going to China and Korea and the rest mostly going to North America, Brazil and Germany.
In the many years that he’s fallen in love with the sport, skateboarding has seen many ups and downs, usually a major cycle every ten years, Willock thinks. For example, at the races he was involved in at the Sunshine Coast, some years they had 150 racers, others 12.
“If you stop at the bottom it’s gone, but if you survive the bottom of the canyon it goes back up,” he said. “Typically, every ten years, kids pull their dad’s boards out of the closet, I think. And now there’s a lot more girls there, so it’s a pretty even distribution of people buying skateboards right now, so girls are lugging their dad’s skateboards out of the closets and that seems to be the next wave.”
Willcock said he’s really looking forward to showing the film in the Kimberley later this summer. He said it’s not only a great time capsule for the race itself, but for the people of Kimberley and the July Fest. He can’t wait to see people’s reactions to it, and he personally can’t get enough of it after watching the film’s development countless times.
“The one test we did, I try not to show it to too many people to make it special for the day, but to show it to people who don’t know anything about this crew and aren’t skateboarders to get their reaction to see and you seemed to be stuck to it, too,” Willcock said. “So I think Kevin hit the mark. If you don’t know anything about us or skateboard racing and still find it entertaining, then yes, he did a good job.”
Regarding the future of the Sullivan Challenge, Honeyman said he hopes it will go on forever and that it will likely last as long as Willcock is involved. Willock seemed to agree.
“It would be nice if someone rose to take over one day, but I doubt it will go down with me I’m sure,” Willcock said. “But that’s why these events go on for so long, because we’re the crazy guys who do it no matter what.”