Baja Surf & Skate: The Story Behind The DIY Dream

by Marta
Baja Surf & Skate Mexico

Baja Surf & Skate is the dream of Trish the Dish and Ivanna S Pankin, a pair of retired American roller derby skaters. They moved from San Diego to Northern Baja during the pandemic and because they missed a skatepark, they built their own. Just recently they invited skateboarders and roller skaters to a skate contest! Here’s the story behind how it all started and why you should visit this wonderful place.

The second annual Baja Women+ Skate Contest was a super great time. We didn’t *know* it was annual until everyone kept repeating it, but surely that’s the best reaction to get at an event!

The contest was an idea cooked up over many hard physical labor days of pouring concrete, brainstorming slowly in childish English and Spanish as we learned to speak to each other and build our respective skate parks. But first, a little about us:

Baja Surf & Skate is the dream of a pair of retired American roller derby skaters, Trish the Dish and me, Ivanna S Pankin. We moved from San Diego to Northern Baja during the pandemic and one of the first things we missed were all the amazing skateparks, especially our daily home slice, Linda Vista. We had always dreamed of someday creating an Old Ladies Home for derby skaters, and over the years and skate trips and fun vacations spent with friends in places like Cuatro Casas and Bluenigma, our dream evolved into an Old Skater Home getaway vacation spot with bowls. So when we found our place, crumbling but affordable and on a huge patch of land in the most gorgeous La Misión valley, we knew it was time to start figuring out how to make the dream a reality.

Cammie (@cammieslammie) skating the DIY on Saturday coming in 3rd in heat one

We met Ana of DIY Skatepool Ensenada when she hosted the first Women’s skate contest a couple of weeks after we moved here, in 2021. We showed up hours earlier than any of the contestants (at the time on the flier!), and we skated and skated and bonded like mad. Ana and her amigos dug a small kidney pool on her property – by hand with shovels, and turned it into a shady DIY dream overlooking Ensenada Bay.

We met Misa from Manos Sucias skate shop in Tijuana a few weeks later, and while we were chatting with him, mentioned we were prepping a ditch next to our house that we thought we could concrete in to skate. We didn’t know Jack SHIT really (and TBH probably still barely know the first thing) about the art and science of pouring concrete. But when we told Misa what we were thinking, he said, “When are you going to start? This Sunday?”. Uhhhhhh! Yes?

That Sunday turned into nearly every Sunday for months, as we dug and scraped and shaped and cut forms and hauled gravel and sand and poured one wall at a time until our bowl grew into what it is today. Ana brought carloads of skaters to help from Ensenada, and Misa brought carloads from Tijuana, and along the way we shared many important Spanish words for materials and tools, lots of good swears, and made some friends we hope to keep for life.

A Two-Day Contest open to Roller Skaters & Skateboarders

So fast-forward to last weekend. The contest was 2 days – Saturday in La Misión, then Sunday at DIY Skatepool. Our spots are about 40 minutes drive from each other. Which is kind of amazing, if you think about it, because I have not yet been able to find many (any?) DIYs initiated by women other than ours (are you out there? Can we come skate?), so it’s so awesome that ours are so close!

Both days were open to skates and skateboards, and all skill levels of women, trans and non-binary skaters. We had really phenomenal prizes from our sponsors, including a pair of Antik skates from Riedell, two complete skateboards from Powell Peralta, several pad sets and helmets from Triple 8 and 187 Killer Pads, plus a ton more decks and apparel and cool stuff from sponsors on both sides of the border. Because we had so much sweet new gear to give away, we really wanted to make the contest categories accessible to all level skaters, especially.

Laura @loudpacklaura
Laura @loudpacklaura

Day one started with *mostly* American skaters, featuring Bay Area Rollerbabes, and a few Mexicanas, including Ana, who had not competed at her own place the year before. A carful of awesome Bay Area roller skaters arrived about the same time as skateboarders we knew from IG. Then Las ChicAZ skaters rolled up and began shredding the bowl. We were scheduled to start at 2, but we delayed until 4 hoping for more local skaters, too, who said they were on the way. We decided on a jam format. Skateboarding and Roller both got 10 minutes for 5 skaters in each category. They went in order as many times as they could for 10 minutes, with three judges making notes. Dita aka @mrs_muertos MC’d the roller section, and two of the Las ChicAZ contestants, Loudpack Laura and Natalie Das, alternated when they weren’t skating in the skateboarding heat. Everyone slayed!

It seemed too soon to end things, so we decided to have another pair of 10-minute contest sessions on the mini ramp, too.

And then, of course, as we thought the contest was ending… more cars full of skaters rolled in from Tijuana and Mexicali, including the Desérticas. So we decided we needed a second heat and had the same number of contestants in each category again! The day was a delirious amount of fun. We ended, as all our best build days do, with the BBQ going and beers flowing and smiles and hugs and Spanglish flying in every direction. We exchanged IG and Duolingo handles, and took a million group photos of each other with prizes in the sunset. Folks camped and BBQ’d and headed for AirBNBs and compressed into each other’s hammocks and skated well past the time anyone could see well enough to be safe. It was fantastic.

Yesenia Coronado @deserticasrollerskates_

Sunday dawned hot AF, so we fortified with boozy ice coffees and chilaquiles on the way through wine country to Ana’s DIY Skatepool. By the time our car got to Ana’s, the skating was hot and heavy and a lot of people were starting to fade. The roller skaters decided not to compete Sunday (the coffees were a likely factor), so the skateboarders tore up Ana’s bowl in the same 10-minute jam format.

And then, you guessed it, right as the skateboarders were ending their heat, a car of Desérticas arrived. Their homegirl, a winner from Sábado, celebrated her birthday after the contest yesterday, so they didn’t plan on competing Sunday, either. But the skate session with everyone was off the hook!

More prizes, hugs, Spanglish, beers, contact-swaps and mi-casa-es-tu-casas later, we all faded, happy and exhausted into the gorgeous Ensenada sunset.

Jaz @stiiinkyfeeet

Next Year at Baja Surf & Skate

We decided two days is too long. We are going to host the competition on Saturday only, alternating which bowl each year. Then on Sunday, we will host an after-party session at whichever bowl didn’t host the contest! So next year Sabado is I think we are going to keep the jam format – it was super fun and took some pressure off each contestant, too. But we might consider divisions. We are obviously going to start later in the day, too! We are totally open to ideas. Send us yours!

Thank you to everyone who participated! Special thanks to George Soulcaptor, Dita de los Muertos, Desérticas, Las ChicAZ, Girls Skate Too Ensenada, everyone who helped build Baja Surf & Skate and DIY Skatepool Ensenada, all the folks who let us talk them into judging and announcing, whoever brought the massive pan of ceviche, all our amazing sponsors*, and especially Misa, Ana, and all the competitors.

Sunday at DIY Ensenada was skateboarding only. Skater: Natalie @nataliekrishnadas

Winners Bracket*
We definitely did a shitty job of keeping track of this. There is a strong chance some of these links are wrong, or names are misspelled; we had too much fun and lost the registration page, so this winner’s list was bodged together from photos of the judging sheets and sunburnt memories. But you should follow all these people on IG because they’re all awesome!!!

Sabado (Saturday)

Skateboarding, heat one:

  1. Ana Leon (DIY Skatepool) @mind_eraser_
  2. Laura Logue (Las ChicAZ) @loudpacklaura
  3. Natalie Das (Las ChicAZ) @nataliekrishnadas 

Roller Skating, heat one:

  1. Jaz @stiiinkyfeeet @patinacoco 
  2. Monique @sport.modeee
  3. Cammie Shibata (Bay Area Roller Babes) @cammieslammie

Skateboarding, heat two:

  1. Vivi (Ensenada) @sobrevivirg
  2. Jacqui Escobar (Ensenada) @nispero.herb
  3. Titi @titiwaves

Roller skating, heat two:

  1. Tania Gallaga @la_vela_morena (She won new Antik skates!)
  2. Gretel Rodriguez (Desérticas) @gretelsk8
  3. Yesenia Coronado @deserticasrollerskates_

Slam of the Day: Babygirl Dee @babygirldee

Domingo (Sunday), Skateboarding only:

  1. Natalie Das (Las ChicAZ) @nataliekrishnadas  
  2. Laura Logue (Las ChicAZ) @loudpacklaura
  3. Trisha Miller (San Diego) @jellosmom

Aereo Ato: Natalie, Fluidez: Juliana, Creativo: Laura, 110%: Yelen, Truco, Loco: Laura, Rutina Loca: Natalie, Rapido: Trisha.

Antik Skates, 187 Killer Pads, Triple 8, RollerCon, Wild & Scenic, Fat Sams CBD for Pets, Crybaby Wellness, Blood & Thunder, /bunTsh/, Dayme, Desmother, GST, Unity Skateshop, Manos Sucias Skateboards Tijuana, Nispero Herbologia, Powell Peralta, RollerBones, Sin City Skates… and everyone who helped build our DIY spots in any way!

Make sure to check out the website of Baja Surf & Skate.

Words by Ivanna S Pankin
Photos by George Medina
Top image skater: Mo

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