2010 O’neill Santa Cruz SkimBash
By Steve Taylor
The 2010 Oneill SkimBash took place in Santa Cruz this weekend at 26th Ave, quite possibly the most consistent skimboarding break in the upper half of California. Many traveling competitors arrived Friday afternoon and were greeted with a solid South swell that filled in throughout the night and stuck around all weekend. There were occasional side waves breaking off the large wedge-like rocks and cement pillars at the south end of 26th, as well as consistant regular and goofy wraps towards the central competition area.
Day 1 saw similar waves to Friday evening with an early high tide and a 4-6 foot swell in the water. The pros kicked off the morning and contest organizer, Mark Beasley was able to bang out the first three rounds before the tide dropped out completely in the afternoon. Big news on Saturday morning was the addition of a fresh new face among the Professional ranks. Though not a fresh face in the skimboard community, Mr. Blair Conklin (Exile Skimboards), of South Laguna, decided it was time to trade in the days of goodie bags and take on a greater challenge skimboarding against the guys he’d been studying for years. Blair was able to connect 3 sidewaves in his first professional heat, winning that heat as well as his second round heat and placing second in his third round heat. Highlights from day 1 included solid skimboarding from Jake Stinnett (Exile Skimboards), Teddy Vlasis (Victoria Skimboards), and Tim Fulton (Apex Skimboards), who was able to pull 360 shuvits on basically any wave. Stephen Bradford (Zap Skimboards) had one of the best frontside turns I’ve seen it quite some time in a contest, but was unable to link other scores in his heat and didn’t push through to day 2. Brandon Sears (Exile Skimboards), a favorite in any event, was also not able to find enough scoring waves during his heat to make it on to the second day. This was a huge surprise to all.
Day 2 kicked off with similar conditions to day one: glassy head high waves with some smaller waves in between sets to get backup scores on. The Quarterfinals started and Bill Bryan (Victoria Skimboards) quickly went to work and showed why he’s been crowned champion as many times as he has. Bill has it all. He’s still a feather foot and can catch basically any small sider that is put in front of him. He linked a few siders throughout the day, but came up big when it counted most. He can hang with just about anyone as far as tech-skimming and new age tricks go, and he’ll still boost airs taller than himself. Highlights in the quarterfinals included Brad Domke (Exile Skimboards) finding his comfort zone. He was able to put together a consistent scoring heat. James Lovett (Zap Skimboards) rode waves from one end of the contest area to another, linking 30 yard liners to 360 shuv-its, and sneaking into solid secondary side waves. Sam Stinnett (Exile Skimboards) was able to connect a few sidewaves and stuck some solid airdrops off the lips at the connection. Brother Jake was busy as well in the quarterfinals getting some of the cleanest wraps of the contest, as well as some stylish backside airs. Jake is able to lift his back leg up higher than most on backside airs, and he seems to tweak his airs just slightly to make them stand out compared to standard BS airs. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to get him through the semi’s against an on-fire Bill Bryan and Sam Stinnett. Blair Conklin saw the same fate, and his rookie success was halted in the semi-finals by other young professionals, Teddy Vlasis (Victoria Skimboards) and Tim Fulton (Apex Skimboards). A solid 8th place finish at 15 years of age in his first professional event is a great start though. The buzz throughout the professional ranks was the same everywhere. “Uh oh, looks like what we’ve been talking about for 2 years actually happened, Blair is here for good now”.
And so it came down to the final: Bill, Sam, Tim and Teddy. This was both Tim and Teddy’s first time to a professional final, though by watching how they performed you would have never guessed. Nerves were not a factor for any of these guys, and all came out firing early. Tim locked into a backside wrap right in front of the judges and stuck a clean 360 shuv-it. Teddy fired right back with a smooth backside wrap to cover up. Sam was going for broke on sidewave connections, meeting every connection a second too late for any normal human being, but somehow staying on his board and popping massive airdrops, unfortunately coming unglued from his board on most attempts. Bill Bryan nailed the first big score of the heat with a head high sider connection. He floated over the connecting section and airdropped down onto the beach. The crowd erupted. Anytime siders become a factor in a contest the energy level immediately ignites. Tim and Teddy stayed busy with straight waves, liners and wraps. Teddy skims in more of an old school fashion. He uses a bigger board, side slips forever and locks into wraps and liners with a lot of speed and style. Tim linked into wave after wave and added tech tricks to keep his scores competitive. Sam and Beaker battled it out on the siders, and in the end Beaker was able to pull off the win with his incredible ability to judge waves and read sider formations, he side slipped into another beautiful wave, grabbed rail at the connection and brought it all the way to the sand where he pulled into the final closeout section of the wave.
A few big thanks go out to the Beasley family (Mark in particular, and wife Jen) for organizing and running the SkimBash year after year, as well as to all of the judges that endured heat after heat of torture, watching the pros skim perfect 26th Ave, as they had to simply watch on, and any other volunteers that helped out. With a win here at SkimBash, Bill Bryan has locked himself into the Number one spot on the United Skim Tour, but expect just as much action if not more at the year ending Exile Skimboards and Main Street Surf Shop Oktoberfest event on October 2nd and 3rd at Balboa Pier in Newport Beach, CA.
1: Bill Bryan
2: Teddy Vlasis
3: Tim Fulton
4: Sam Stinnett
5: Jamie Lovett
6: Jake Stinnett