Strata – Element on the island of Gozo

03.05.2024 Exclusive, Articles
Leon Charo-Tite, backside noseblunt, Xlendi, Craven

Words: Charo-Tite
Photography: Kingsford (unless otherwise stated)

I have never seen such a deep blue
The idea of this trip was to skate these transition-like rocks on the coast of Gozo, the island next to Malta. As far as I know, rain and wind shaped the rocks over the years. Phil sent me a clip of Jim’s friend Moggins skating some of the spots back in 2017, to give us an idea of what awaited us. He suggested bringing big wheels and even some soft wheels to make sure we could skate the crusty-looking spots. I was hyped from the get-go, not because I like going on trips or because I had never been to Malta, but because I thought it could be a fun new experiment skating natural transition spots.

In late November 2023, right on my birthday, I took a plane to Malta to meet the rest of the team and the guys from Grey. Compared to rainy Berlin, the weather there felt like summer: the mild salty breeze, the warm light and the muted colour palette of the landscape that consisted only of the colours brown, green and beige. To be honest, the views we experienced the following 10 days were quite desolate. We teamed up and drove across the island of Malta to the ferry that took us to Gozo, where we would spend most of our time skating rocks by the water.

Jaakko Ojanen, ollie, Gharb

Jim had already collected a ton of spots via Google Earth and other research. He then spent a few days cycling up and down the coast to check if they were valid. It was so overwhelming when he showed us all the spots he found. Every spot kind of looked the same, but then totally different at the same time. I remember arriving at the first spot. We left the van in an empty car park (it was off-season) and walked towards the water for about 15 minutes, loaded with brooms and not knowing what to expect… not too much, to be honest. The spots looked quite sandy and dusty in photos, but once we arrived, we realised the texture of the rocks was quite solid, kind of smooth to roll on even. The view was immaculate by the way, all these beige rocks and the deep blue water crashing into the big cliffs we stood on. I have never seen such a deep blue my whole life.

The first spot was a small quarter with a big lip. Even though the run-up was slightly uphill and had two puddles in the way, it was easy to get to the top. We couldn’t slide or grind because we weren’t supposed to wax anything out of respect to nature. Jaakko and me started to play around and get comfortable with the type of spot we would be skating for the next six days. It was good to be with him. I feel like we have a similar sense when it comes to looking at spots from a different perspective and trying new things. It actually felt just like a rock version of a DIY transition. Everything came kind of easy, and in retrospect, this was probably the toughest spot we skated the whole time we were on the island.

Jaakko Ojanen, backside disaster, Gharb

Each day, we would take the van as close as possible to the spot and then walk the rest. Usually it was a very chill procedure: we’d pack our boards, water, snacks and brooms and make our way towards the water. We would arrive, lose our shit over how good these spots were, then start sweeping and checking what was possible. I don’t really know if the spots got smoother day by day, or if we just got used to them quickly, but we actually got a lot of tricks done each day. I’m pretty sure there was no day where we left without a clip or photo. That’s not to say everything came easy – not at all – but at least for me, it was such a unique experience, that I just didn’t want to give up trying. I didn’t really care about the results or anything; I just enjoyed skating each spot in the moment and wanted to make the most of an opportunity that was unlikely to come again any time soon.

Rarely was there just one spot at a location we visited. It was like a painting, where you start to see more and more details the longer you look at it. You might want to hit this spot right here, but end up skating the one 20m over there for two hours. We went to this spot that was like a downhill skatepark. You had this long roll-in to a steep quarter, then it went further downhill to a bump that sent you quite good. After that, it took you to a steeper bank next to a tight transition. We spent so much time skating this place. After a break, I couldn’t stop looking at this huge quarter on the opposite side. As evening closed in, I slowly swept the run-up and landing, and got lucky landing that frontside air.

This was by far the calmest trip I’ve ever been on. It almost felt like a beach holiday, to be honest. We were a small crew, which worked perfectly in this environment. It was never packed at the spot and nobody had to wait long for their moment. There were no busts, no dirty or sketchy places and very little traffic, just the occasional passing dog walker, tourist or people serenely fishing nearby. Few of them seemed aware of the amazing potential of these rocks. 

Leon Charo-Tite, kickflip, Gharb
Jaakko Ojanen, McGrath stall fakie, Gharb
Jaakko Ojanen, backside smith stall, Panwie Solne
Phil Zwijsen, frontside noseblunt, Daħlet Qorrot
Leon Charo-Tite, wallie, Panwie Solne
Phil Zwijsen, ollie, Gharb
Leon Charo-Tite, frontside air, Gharb
Leon Charo-Tite, backside 360, Xwejni
Kukka Suvioja, newest deal, Wied il-Għasri
Jaakko Ojanen, frontside kickturn, Wied il-Għasri
Jaakko Ojanen, backside 180, Ras il-Hobz
Leon Charo-Tite, backside 180 wallie, Xwejni
Jaakko Ojanen, blunt fakie, Gharb
Phil Zwijsen, early grab backside air, Wied il-Għasri