Javier Tato has been supporting Rayne for a long time, riding an Avenger, then a Vandal and then the Misfortune or Fortune over a 5 year timeline. He’s also been absolutely ripping in Spain for that same span. Don’t know why it took so long, but I’m very happy to finally be able to say ‘welcome to the team’ to Javier!
Tommy Watson: Dude, so even before I was the Team Manager, I was seeing your videos and was impressed. For me, a rider nailing lines is more interesting than throwing standies, but you do both. Can you tell me a bit about who you’ve looked up to in skating over the years and how they’ve influenced your riding style?
Javier Tato: Hey there! First, let me tell you that im so stoked to be part of the Rayne team, definitely a dream come true. About skateboarding, like all the sports, has a very complicated development for each person. We all have past phases. For me, my first years skating were all about being fast, and then faster, i did not care much about technique or safety, that changed when i first met Patrick Switzer. On a road trip that we made to Tenerife, i saw how different he was skating compared to me and how he cared about safety much more than me. From then i switched my mind and started to work on the things that im currently doing: control, safety, technique and dialed lines. Standies are fun for sure, i use to use them much more a few years ago. I still do it, but i try to mix everything every time.
TW : You're right about Patrick, and I can totally see his riding in your style, especially toeside. More people from my generation and before, when longboarding wasn't popular, cared about skating responsibly. Making sure that they knew how to stop safely, and keep the residents of where they skated happy, because they wanted to be able to skate there for years to come. Once longboarding became popular, the people who were just in it because it was cool didn't care about whether or not they could skate the same spots next year because they knew that they weren't even going to be skating then anyway.
JT: True. And you see that in the media. It's like, being sketchy and being gnarly (like showing big crashes) has been really popular in the last years, but I wish for much more riders like Patrick Switzer with a clean and really really pure technique. Like, good lines, good slides... He is my favourite rider so far because of that. When Patrick comes out with a new video or raw run, I don't care about how much time/tech went in to the edit, because I really love that kind of riding and that level of technique is my goal. You know? Be safe all the time, be in control all the time. If you want to bring new people in to the sport, you've got to promote this kind of riding. Skating can be all about the bombing, or it is a great tool to get out with your friends and travel. That's what I think brings new people in to the sport, not how gnarly it is.
TW: I've thought that the whole time. I don't think that longboarding should have taken the street skating approach and tried to make what we do look super gnarly. Thinking back to why I got in to longboarding, it's because of the events that I went to and the people that I met there. How did you get into skating in the first place? Did you start with longboarding?
JT: I was surfing a lot when i started longboarding at 18. My first interest was about looking for something that was similar to surf, but then everything changed.
TW: What was it that took you from cruising in to more downhill and freeride?
JT: Its a progression that i think everyone follows, you start cruising and carving, then freeride and then downhill. Its pretty natural, but progression is always something attractive to me.
TW: Have any good noob stories or learning curve moments from starting off?
JT: Yes, I remember my first time in open traffic skating with people that were much better skaters than me, and i remember doing colemans in the middle of straights making them fall over and stuff… it was pretty fun!
TW: Can you run us through your picks for the top three events in Europe?
JT: I think all of them are in Spain. I mean, I like Kozakov, but the events in Spain are so dope that it's hard to compare. Like Velefique! it's in September, 4 days on a dream road! I go all the years there. I really love it. Another one would be Sant Mateu, organized by Riders Fly. Those two are up there for me. Then it gets hard cause all of Spain is so good for skating almost all year round that just traveling to spots is really satisfying. You don't need an event!
TW: How does the skate scene in Spain compare to other parts of Europe?
JT: I would say its very poor right now, it was use to be a really big community 3 years ago, but now it is decreasing a lot and its pretty sad to see the sport die slowly… i think its pretty much bigger in the rest of Europe. I hope this can change in the near future... At least, we have a lot of events and freerides, and they are still pretty good ones, specially the Ridersfly events, they make like 4 each year and they are always full!
TW: Cool to hear about the events, but that’s strange that even with good events, the scene is fading. What do you think is behind the shrinkage?
JT: There is a lot of factors, first one would be the second hand market, which is overloading everything, making the shops have a hard time to put money back in to their local scenes. Also there are (were) SO many brands, but now, at least more than a half have disappeared. The marketing of the companies has developed into a very weird way. When all of this started fun was spread and promoted, now, gnarly actions and some other non interesting stuff is being promoted, making new people decide to not join the sport.
TW: Word. Every company taking on the idea of a "Flow Team" really saturated the market with free product, devaluing what the shops had on their shelves. It's definitely tough right now for brands with the way the market is, hopefully we'll see more of them changing their marketing strategies out for ones that are more sustainable for the industry. Outside of skateboarding, what are you getting up to day-to-day?
JT: I work as Wind Turbine engineer, and it takes pretty much all my days until very late, but i always skate when im free of work. Skating has given me much more than any other things in my life.
TW: Wind turbine engineer?! Nice. What drew you into that profession? What sort parts of the process to you work with in making a wind turbine?
JT: I studied Energy Resources Engineering, and Wind Turbines are a big part of the degree. I always liked renewable energies, that is why i got a job on that sector. About what i do, it’s basically load calculations for machines that don't exist yet. We make a very deep analysis to see how the machine will react, and see if its a good idea to build it with the data that i get.
TW: OK, so you’re in Spain, but what part?
JT: I live and work in Madrid which is a pretty dope place… but i would say Galicia or Castellon are awesome places in which i would love to live. Actually Spain is pretty dope anywhere you go, good weather, good people and cheap! Castellon is, for me, the best place to skate ever, there are NO LIMIT of roads.
TW: Is there a specific style to roads in Castellon?
JT: There are all kind of roads that you can imagine, Castellon is full of mountains everywhere, there is a really good weather and the pavement is PERFECT everywhere you go. You have everything, Fast roads, grippy courses, Hairpins... Basically there is not only one kind of road, that is why i love to skate there. Of course, my favourite courses are those in which you have to slow down a lot of times sliding because there is so much hairpins in a short distance.
TW: If we’re ever in Spain, what are the things we might not know to do or try before we leave?
JT: First, visit Toledo, my favourite City, the most beautifull one ever. Then, come to visit me and share some skating and roads around!
TW: You’ve been on a few different Rayne topmounts. What keeps you on a topmount rather than a dropthrough or dropdeck?
JT: I never tried a drop Rayne deck before, but i did with other brands. I never liked how they work, and actually i cannot explain why, they are just not for me. Im just very used to Top mounts i guess, and that kind of changes are not easy.
TW: Do you have any modifications like grip inserts or toestops on your Fortune?
JT: Just a little toestop. Besides that, the fortune is the best deck ever and doesn't need any changes. Anything you may need can be done by your own foot, anybody that has tried it knows it. I just use Lokton griptape on it and basically i don’t need anything else in there.
TW: What about the Fortune works so well for you?
JT: My feet fits perfect on it. I have to say it took me like 3 days to get used to it, it feels very weird the first time you try it, because it is something completely different than any other deck, but once you get used to it, you don’t want to try anything else. The bacon concave makes you be really solid on all the slides. Also the way it reacts to carves, its really responsive and fast when you put weight into your toes or heels, making it easier to nail your lines while skating. Its such a nice deck for racing, freeriding or whatever. Maybe, its harder to make it work for freeriding at first, but you get used to it.
TW: What are your plans for this season?
JT: I had no time to plan anything yet, but hopefully a big road trip anywhere out of Spain for Sure… and about Spain, i will just attend all the events!
TW: Dope dude. Well, keep us posted!
JT: Will do!