A seasoned sandboarder in his native Australia, Simon Hunt was initially shocked to find that next to nobody was sandboarding over here and making the most of the towering dunes that dominate the UAE’s deserts. Fast forward a few years and Hunt is not only part of a growing community of boarders who venture out in to the desert in search of the perfect ride, he also founded Above Sandboards. Vogue Arabia connected with Hunt to learn more.
What motivated you to launch Above Sandboards?
I’ve been sandboarding for a long time in Australia. I would make boards with friends just for fun and ride the dunes near the beaches when there was no surf. When I moved to Dubai eight years ago, I expected to find a sandboard scene already here, but there was nothing — just a few desert camps flogging old snowboards. So before going on a group camping trip, I decided to build a few boards to shred with my pals. They loved it.
This is where it all started three years ago. Adventure HQ wanted to start selling my boards so I went into production, designing a full board range and sourcing all the raw materials I needed. I now sell in 15 stores across the GCC and I’m starting to send boards internationally. Also, I sponsor riders in South America, and just sent an order to Australia, and also a surf shop in Japan. Until recently, I didn’t even know dudes sandboarded in Japan.
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How does sandboarding compare to snowboarding?
It’s similar, but of course much shorter runs. It’s like a punk song – short, fast, and loud. We usually session a few different jumps over and over. It’s super similar to snowboarding in powder; the weight is more on the back of the board. You can carve, turn, and jump just like other board sports. But you need to use sandboard wax to give the board the explosive speed.
Does it help to be able to skate/snowboard?
Absolutely. Any board sport crosses over to sandboarding really well. Skating, wakeboarding, surfing. All cool.
Where are the best places to go sandboarding in Dubai?
There are so many spots to hit. The back side of Fossil Rock is a massive sand drift that would be almost bigger than Ski Dubai. Anywhere around Big Red is good and there’s a small dune we sometimes ride out near Al Qudra. Any direction you drive out, you hit dunes so the possibilities are endless.
Other than a board, what equipment do you need to get started?
Sandboard wax – it’s a massive part. You need to wax the base before every big run. Just rub it on the base for about 10 seconds before you drop in. Also, a helmet is a good move. The sand is pretty hard when you’re going that fast.
How big is the sandboarding community in the UAE? How far do you think the sport can go in terms of popularity?
It’s growing all the time in the UAE. In South America, it’s massive. They build sandboard parks with wooden steps back up the dune with lots of different jumps and rails. I’d like to build a sandboard park here in Dubai, and maybe get a group like X-Dubai involved.
Above Sandboards has some great designs. Who creates this artwork?
Ah, thanks a lot! The art is an important part for me. All the board graphics are designed by different local artists. There’s a beginner’s board called “The Demon” that I really like. It’s designed by local artist/graphic designer May Freij. Ruben Sanchez has also designed one. His board is called “Ruben”.