With his light bulb-bright smile, untamed ginger mane, easygoing attitude and undeniable gift of the gab, there’s just something about Chadd Sinclair.
This weekend at the Cloverdale Rodeo, he’ll be one of the local competitors to cheer for at the World Freestyle Round-up, an international competition that’s entering its fifth successful year. Organized by Cloverdale-based promoter Monty Little and another skateboarding legend, Kevin Harris, the Round-up will bring 28 skaters from 11 different countries to compete May 20-23 at the Cloverdale Curling Rink (free with Country Fair admission; $10, children 12 and under are free)
Competitors from as far away as Romania, Spain, Japan and Brazil will converge on a four-day battle that attracts top amateurs and pros, along with masters.
World champion Per Wellinder, Michael J. Fox’s double in Back to the Future, is also competing.
Sinclair entered for the first time last year, and placed 10th in the amateur category, a result that “blew my mind,” says the 27-year-old Surreyite.
He’s a prolific personality on social media websites like YouTube, where his unboxing videos – a popular genre where merchandise is opened and instantly reviewed before the camera – are a hit, along with his breezy ‘A Day in the Life of Chad Sinclair’ series, diary-like clips that make for irresistible online viewing.
Cloverdale residents will appreciate his enthusiasm for the new youth park, located next to the Cloverdale Rec Centre on 176 Street at 62 Avenue (Bill Reid Way), which he visits in one recent video, rewarding younger kids with stickers and other giveaways or attempting tricks and moves under his Go Pro’s eye.
Sinclair’s true passion is skateboarding, where he’s a rising force in the world of street and freestyle, trying to land sponsors and attracting a growing number of fans.
He describes his style as a mix of freestyle and streetstyle.
“In streetstyle, you’re looking at handrails, and stairs and drops. Freestyle is basically anything on the ground.”
He practices daily, perfecting such moves as the pressure flip and the hippy jump, jumping over an obstacle while the board goes under it (Sinclair somehow takes the board with him in the air, soaring over objects and landing with deceptive ease).
He spends hours editing and posting his video diaries.
Every day is an act of courage for Sinclair, who learned to skateboard as a youngster, and showed real promise during his early teen years, but took a detour before returning to the sport in his 20s.
He was jumped and robbed in two separate attacks, targeted and picked on for being a skater, and then suffered an ankle injury that sidelined his skateboarding and sapped his initiative.
The experiences made him fearful, and much more cautious about everything and everyone. He preferred to stay at home and play video games.
“It completely changes your outlook on life,” he says. “I’m lucky to be alive.”
He says he suffers from PTSD, depression and anxiety and panic attacks, but has managed to overcome these challenges in no small part because of skateboarding.
When he picked up a board again, he was surprised at how quickly he progressed. One day, he went to Hippie Mike’s skate jam, and to his utter amazement, he found himself having a great time. It spurred him on to enter other competitions, earning notice for his talent and love of the sport.
These days, he’s putting the past behind him, determined to move forward.
He originally started his YouTube channel to get attention and attract sponsors, plus to show family and friends what he was up to.
“I’ve never had mass acceptance,” he says. That’s changing: His YouTube channel has 6,485 subscribers and counting.
He’s got a flair for cultivating, and keeping, an army of online and real-world fans happy, rewarding them with prizes and gifts like stickers and other freebies he receives in return for video reviews.
He entered the World Round-up at the last minute in 2015.
Competitors – who span the globe and range from pre-teen to middle-aged legends – embraced him, as did the organizers. It was like coming home.
“They’re just open arms. It’s a family,” he says, citing the support of people like Little, who ensured he could take part. He got a big boost when he was congratulated by the likes of Kevin Harris and Russ Howell.
As in previous years, the competition will be held in the Cloverdale Curling Rink daily, emceed by pro skateboarder AJ Kohn, who will narrate alongside a music DJ. Each day will feature freestyle demonstrations and battle style contests.
Along with Sinclair, look for White Rock’s Andy Anderson, back to defend his world amateur title after a two-week tour in India putting on skateboard demos.