By Steve Breazeale
The day he showed up for his qualifying heats at the Transworld Skateboarding Come Up Tour contest on June 13, San Clemente’s Mateo Rael decided to throw a new trick into his run. The 16-year-old junior from San Clemente High School decided he needed to land a half-cab feeble grind down a rail in order to impress the judges and win a shot at becoming featured in the popular Transworld Skateboarding magazine.
In practice, Rael fell hard several times while attempting to land the trick. But when he went out for his first run, he pulled it off.
Rael won the competition, besting 15 other unsponsored skaters, and was then tasked with producing his own three-minute skate video, which was put up on Transworld’s website. The final stage of the competition was to get as many votes as possible among four other skate videos to earn the grand prize of being featured in print. Rael won that as well and will soon be on the pages of one of the most popular skate magazines in the country.
The San Clemente Times caught up with Rael to get his thoughts on winning the contest and what’s next in his career.
San Clemente Times: How satisfied are you knowing that you won this multi-layered contest and have a chance to get noticed by sponsors?
Mateo Rael: Getting noticed is a big step for me … being in San Clemente, it’s kind of under the radar. It’s either San Diego or L.A. where all the focus is. It feels like there is a lot less stress but there’s still a lot more work to do. So I’m happy and work has paid off, but there’s always getting to the next level after you’ve accomplished one thing.
SCT: How tough was it beating 14 other skaters who were hungry, like you, to get noticed?
MR: The competition went well. I skated pretty consistently. I got there and I learned a new trick that day and had it down really well so I used that in the contest … It was scary. I fell a couple times pretty hard during practice … I kind of had that in the back of my mind that I might pull off first (place) in this, but it didn’t really start hitting me until I was up on the podium.
SCT: You went from showing you can skate to producing your own skate video. How’d you manage that?
MR: My buddy Ryan filmed most of it on a standard definition camera. My friend Mike, who shoots photos for me, he’s a professional. The first part of the video was all (Mike’s) HD camera and the second part was my friend’s. We had to put it all together.
SCT: And your video ended up getting the most votes online.
MR: I was very surprised. I had it in the back of my mind that maybe I could win it and I had a ton of people supporting it and getting it out there, getting votes for me … (I got a hold of ) everyone, just everyone. Dude, it didn’t even have to be skate-related. It was like ‘Remember me? Vote for me.’ (laughs).
SCT: How have you progressed as a skater over the past several months? Are you on an upward trend skill-wise?
MR: Yeah, because I battle in my head a lot, thinking that I should be better. I think it’s that way for a lot of skaters. I definitely tell myself ‘You should be better than where you are at now,’ so I kind of push myself harder. I’m dealing with an injury right now, so there’s been a lot of setbacks for me and I think maybe that’s why I’m not exactly where I want to be at this age, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I think I’m doing pretty well.
SCT: What’s next for you, after you get featured in Transworld?
MR: It’s mostly getting noticed. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m going to film a lot, skate a lot and just try to get better constantly … We’ll see where it goes.