Haven’t heard about Raphae Ueda? Well, you’re about to. The 15-year-old skater is known for his natural born talent. It might be genetic, since his dad, Lincoln Ueda, was a professional vert skater in the 90’s – 2000’s, and Raphae’s biggest role model. Raphae’s using his talent strategically by taking his time on training and getting his tricks right, studying and watching his competitors, and keeping his eyes on the prize: his future.
Raphae is the latest addition to the 2022 Monster Energy Skate Roster and bottom line: he’s stoked! To celebrate, we talked with Raphae to see how he got here and what he’s planning on next.
Where did you grow up skating?
I grew up skating in a couple different places actually! It was Vans Indoor in the beginning, and then over the years the main place became 1410 Vantage Court in Carlsbad, CA. It used to be Academy Skatepark, with this sick mini vert that now resides at Vans HB as Grosso’s vert. Vantage now houses the good old CA Training Facility [CA | TF]. Oh, and Alga Norte too, that’s where I skated right after I moved to SD from OC.
What’s your favorite trick you’ve ever done?
I did a melon 5…once…maybe one day I’ll do another?
I heard your dad is actually a coach at CA | TF! You must have grown up skating around some legends. What was that like?
Yeah, it’s pretty sick to be skating at my home park and then see my dad working in the same place. And I got to skate with so many legends that it’s pretty surreal to think about. Growing up it was dudes like my dad, Neal Hendrix, Kevin Staab, Steve Caballero, Simon Tabron, even Tony Hawk a couple of times.
I mostly watched though since I was like 8 when I went to those sessions. Complete mind trip. They definitely inspired a ton of tricks too. Most of the tricks I adore and enjoy doing are basically taken from any Vert video that you’ll find from the early 90s to early 2000s, but done in a park instead. Seems like it kind of came full circle, only took like two generations in between.
Even more trippy, your dad is a judge in some of these contests! What is that like?
It actually helps me a ton as well since I get to see contest skating through the eyes of someone who decides the final outcome. Knowing what tricks are “no-go’s” and what trick types are favorable is super good to know. I suppose he won’t be a judge for park anymore now that I’m going to compete, so as to not create controversy, and because it’d be super whack.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Light work answer, for sure my dad. I used to skate a lot more with him than I do nowadays, but it’s always a pleasure to skate the CA | TF with him, or when I’m in a daring mood and decide to sketch out and skate vert. He’s always there with me though, coaching and helping me out on tricks and skate history related things.
Who do you look up to most on the Monster Energy skate team?
Oooooh that’s a hard one. A really. really hard one. The only answer I can think of is, all of them. I’ve skated with Kieran Woolley a number of times, but I suppose I’ve only got a chance to see everyone else destroy when I go watch contests, or when they come by the facility. And YouTube of course, with an endless stream of content to watch and freak out over.
Who is your biggest competitor this year?
Myself. I’m just kind of starting in the industry and competition world (well I guess I haven’t even started to be honest), so at the moment I’m really only focused on having some fun and learning new things. Also, even though skate competitions are, by definition, a competition where you compete against others, I’ve always seen competitions as a huge collective of skaters showing their progress and pushing themselves to evolve this sport we all love. The rankings are, in my opinion, nothing in comparison to getting to skate with all the coolest people in the community. Either way, doing good in competitions sounds pretty awesome too.
We noticed you have been officially added to the Toy Machine roster! Congrats! Rumor has it, you had offers from some other high profile skateboard companies as well. Why did Toy Machine win you over?
Thank you! I did get a couple offers to skate for some really sick companies that I’ve watched growing up, and even some that are brand new and already killing it. But, I can’t fathom leaving Toy. There’s just something about the graphics, the team, the TumYeto dudes (Barker and Derm always got me hooked on the best concave), and the videos (Don Luong is the mastermind in that department), that can’t quite be explained. I owe a ton of thanks to Mike Sinclair and everyone who makes Toy Machine operate for having me on!
This is a big year for you! You’re going to be competing more & you have Monster Energy to back you up. What comp are you the most hyped for?
I can’t wait to go to Tampa Am, that’s going to be crazy. I think its status as this annual celebration of skateboarding is super sick. It’s the place to watch all of the best new skaters kill it in one place. I’ll probably stick to the Concrete Jam though, that thing is where it's at. Hopefully I don’t get plowed through by some dude twice as big as me when I go. I heard it’s pretty chaotic, especially if it gets rained out and you have to fight for a run in the indoor bowl.
This year also begins the World Skate Qualifiers for the 2024 Olympics. How are you going to set yourself apart from your competitors?
I guess by just going as big as I can while also keeping it tech. I’m heavily inspired by so many different skaters, so by piecing together a bunch of different types of skating, whether that be skating aggressively, flipping the board a bit, or doing some no grab stuff, I think I’ll be able to put together lines that I’ll be content with.
What was it like growing up with a dad who was a professional vert skater in the 90’s? What did you naturally learn from him? Anything specific he taught you that stayed with you years later?
That man taught me everything I know in skating to be honest. It’s the biggest ongoing opportunity I’ve had my entire life. Every single trick, line, and inspiration has been spearheaded through his skateboarding, coaching, and parenting. One thing that he and my mom have said that will definitely stick with me forever is that education comes first. If I have kids one day, I’m gonna tell them the same thing, no matter what they love to do.
I heard you are doing traditional 9:00-3:00 schooling instead of homeschooling. What made you choose that? Now that you are on the team, will you continue with that path?
To be honest, I’ve been on the fence as to whether or not I should pursue homeschooling or not, but I think I’ll probably do 9:00-3:00 schooling next year and the year after as well. It’ll definitely take a lot of coordination with my teachers and administrators to make sure I can go on any trips and contests that I plan to attend, but in the end my education is something that I really want to pursue further after high school. I know I can balance both, and still succeed, even though the work will probably become a lot harder now.
Where is your favorite place in the world to skate?
The CA | TF never gets old, there’s always something to do there, and I feel like it’s my home away from home.
What is your dream? What do you want to achieve in the future?
The dream is to go pro and to graduate college too. I want to be able to make a living doing what I love, and to see the world and appreciate it. We’re not really here for a long time if you think about it, so I want to make it worth it.
What’s a fun fact about you that is not about skateboarding?
I play the guitar, I’m not good by any means, and I sing a little too. Every once in a while I’ll post a cover on instagram or something.