Blair Conklin Wins Santa Cruz Skimbash
In recent weeks leading up to the event, several large south swells washed away much of the sand at the 26th avenue contest site. Many locals questioned whether or not the sand would fill back in come contest time. As luck would have it, a northwest swell arrived the week prior to the event. This indeed helped the beach recover, at least somewhat. While locals might describe the beach conditions as “flat”, the south end offered enough slope for riders with decent hydroplaning ability, to rip, wrap and ride.
On Saturday, the conditions were fairly decent. The morning high tide offered the Pros clean, mostly glassy conditions with waves in the 3-5 foot range. The sider was trying to work, but was inconsistent. Some riders did find the apex however, and thus excited spectators as is per usual when riders are able to “make the connection”. Mother Nature’s best offering this weekend was the lack of wind that has been known to blow out the contest site especially in the afternoon. This year, the wind held off for the most part and when it did arrive, it was only light and variable at best. The sun peaked in and out of the clouds and fog both days, offering opportunities to soak in some rays and break out the sunscreen. Rumors of rain proved to be true. So, this year we had it all. A freak rain squall decided to roll in late Sunday afternoon just in time for the awards ceremony. No worries though, we all managed, and the rain subsided as all of the tents and other equipment were being broken down.
As for the results, Heat #1 of the Pro semi-finals featured the following riders who finished in this order: Blair Conklin, Teddy Vlasis, Morgan Just, and Brad Domke. Pro semi-final Heat #2 featured these riders: Sam Stinnett, Bill Bryan, Brandon Sears, and Austin Keen; also finishing up in that order. Each semi-final was well contested with a lot of action and very little lull. Consistent 3-5 waves kept rolling in throughout both Semi-final heats and into the Pro Final which, as usual, was highly contestable, and arguably the best heat of the entire contest (as it should be in my opinion).
Ump-teenth-time winner Bill Bryan did not fare as well as he had hoped finishing in 4th place. Teddy Vlasis claimed 3rd, even after incurring an interference penalty for cutting off Blair Conklin. The judges felt Blair had clear priority on a wave that Teddy charged on late, and did not see Blair until the last minute, visibly altering Blair’s ride (a typical scenario when an interference penalty is called). Although it was very close, fortunately for Teddy, the penalty of losing his top score from each judge did not affect Teddy’s final placement. This now leaves Blair Conklin and Sam Stinnett. The margin of victory was small. In the end, Blair Conklin edges out Sammy and wins his first UST professional skimboard contest at the ripe young age of 16 years old. Congratulations Blair!
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Looking forward to seeing everyone again next year!
By Steve Taylor
The 2011 Santa Cruz Skim Bash went down in successful form this past weekend at 26th Avenue in 3-5 foot clean surf with less slope than the beach normally sees, but offering up some fun secondary siders, a few small primaries and plenty of wraps and liners for the professionals to perform on. Mark Beasley, the contest director, did a tremendous job of having the pro’s run at the optimal times of the day. The beach was basically not ride-able for much of the day, but during every pro heat there seemed to be waves coming in at will. Hats go off to him for a job well done, as well as all of his assistants.
Round 1 of the pros set off in weak far out waves, with a few gems to be had here and there. Standouts were Bill Bryan, Sam Stinnett, Blair Conklin, Brandon Sears as they were able to make the most out of the smaller weaker conditions that the morning had to offer. Round 2 saw very similar conditions, and the in-form skimboarder truly stood out in this round. Blair was able to continue his smooth skimming and link in bigspins, and 360 shuv-it’s on almost every scoring ride he had. Morgan Just was linking together sections nobody else seemed to be able to, getting liners across the beach, and completing rides with backside 180’s or 360 demon spins onto the sand, for solid completions of rides.
Sunday showed promising conditions with more contestable waves than on Saturday. The semi final heats could have easily been two finals at any given contest, unfortunately Brad Domke was unable to find a flow, as well as Austin Keen. Keen was able to get a few solid waves under his belt but lacked the back up scores to push into the final. The same went for Brandon Sears and Morgan Just who just narrowly came up short in their quest for the win. Teddy Vlasis continued his smooth skimboarding with solid consistent rides every heat he entered, and launching him into another final.
The final was a non stop battle, with Blair as the decisive favorite on his backside. Needing frontside as well as backside waves to fill out your top 5 waves of the heat, Blair linked only 2 actual scoring frontside waves. Teddy as well as Bill were both involved in possible interference calls, which may have hindered their abilities to overcome Sam and Blair, however their level of riding was right there with the top 2. At the end of the day, it was Blair Conklin’s name spoken last as Mark Beasley awarded the UST’s youngest professional rider his first professional win. Skimboarding is in it’s most exciting period of time, and with Sam Stinnett at the top for UST standings, we expect all competitors to be after his throat at the Exile Oktoberfest presented by Main Street Surf Shop this coming weekend.
I like Turtles.