Although BoardFree originated from the romantic ideals of one man and his board hitting the open road, it fast grew into a multi-faceted initiative. This meant fundraising and awareness-raising for three charities, profile raising of a long-standing sport experiencing a renaissance, and intensive documenting of two journeys which would provide the opportunity to light the fire of promise and potential in the hearts of other, soon-to-be endurance skaters. All of this would have been impossible off the back of just one man, so a team became a necessity, as did the vehicles to carry them and the rules which come with such a convoy. The project needed to resonate professionalism - no one takes notice of scrappy articulation - in order to attract attention across the spread of old and new medias that were to make BoardFree accessible to all, from high rises in Canary Wharf to country suburbs in China.
The website was developed and updated in-house and became the one most essential tool of information for all interested in the project. It featured diaries and blogs, not just by Dave but by most of the on-road team members. High resolution images and press releases were made available for download. Video diaries and daily image galleries were uploaded every few days so a BoardFree-eye view could be tasted by each visitor. Each batch of text that made the site was read and re-read, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors were few and far between. The message was simple; these are not a group of young whippersnappers with ripped jeans and an eye for graffiti'able wallspace, this was an international project that targetted recognition not just through use of an unusual method of transport, but by blending hard work and vision with a Headline-Making World Record-breaking journey, the aim was to use the record to cast attention on the rest of the project, without that record-breaking hook the media just wouldn't have been interested so we milked it for all it was worth! This wouldn't have been possible without fourteen months of forward planning and a strong and passionate team each of whom had incredible supportive family and friends.
BoardFree wasn't just an endurance challenge for Dave Cornthwaite, although his personal journey was at the core of the project. The combination of skills needed to glue the project in place was credit to the team and also to the sponsors that contributed so much to its success. On any given day up to three vehicles were on the road, phonecalls were being made to drum up media, letters and emails were written, funds were being collected online and in-hand, the route map on the website was updated with a red line that snaked on and on as the journeys unfolded. Newsletters were zipped out on a weekly basis to thousands of subscribers, shoes were worn out and replaced, food was prepared and consumed in abundance, meetings were held, public talks were given, we slept in the desert and in museums and schools and mines and in the homes of strangers. We gave interviews and applied suncream, bandaged blisters and dealt with the conflict of confinement. And meanwhile considerable distances were skated, sometimes 40km, sometimes over 100km. All of this, every day for over six months in total. The logistics required, and successfully enacted by a young and largely inexperienced team, were mindblowing.
The kit we used on the journey ranged from clothing to first aid kits, satellite phones to walkie talkies, hard disc drives to skate bearings. Fourteen pairs of shoes were rubbed through, five sets of wheels, oodles of medical tape. Phone credit to keep the media in the game, ice-cream breaks on the Nullarbor, literally gallons of suncream. But we also needed food and other items that we couldn't find commercial help with, so every member of the team contributed a minimum of £3000 to the project. This covered air fares to Australia (each member of the team was a Pom!), accomodation when necessary, food for six months, fuel and repairs for the three support vehicles. Heck, we even had a birthday party or two to lighten the mood (although for poor Danny and Kate their birthdays occurred when we were in the middle of nowhere!). The team set-up worked because everyone had their own responsibilites within the project, and most of the team kit was looked after/maintained by alotted individuals. You needed a fundraising bucket: Becki, Bev or Laura would pop up with one. Which paper did we talk to last Monday? Kate would know. We need someone to put the I Skated The Nullarbor Sticker on the back of the Jackaroo, or to provide security for the team: Danny was our man!
Here are some questions about the logistics of BoardFree, if you feel something is missing please drop us a line and we'll add your question and Dave's answer to this page if it's relevant:
I am looking at skating from the top of Tasmania to the bottom of Tasmania as part of a fund raiser. How did you get around the no skating laws when you were skating around Australia? - Paul McMacken
Dave - I set the journey up as professionally as possible. The laws are aimed at shortboard skateboarders, not longboarders (the new breed!) so I ensured I had answers for all safety questions put to me by authorities, had a support vehicle with me at all times and basically followed the laws attributed to cyclists, which is a much closer form of transport in terms of ability to travel.
Also, sneakily, I knew that there was nothing but the big empty outside Perth, and if I wasn't stopped before leaving there then the next police to pull me over would likely be near Adelaide, and by then I would have skated 2500km + and they would've be seen to be stupid/cruel to have only 'caught' me by then - considering there was national coverage most days it wasn't like I was a stealth skater!