Sam Stinnett Wins Oktoberfest and 2011 UST Tour
By Aaron Peluso
Sam Stinnett won the 2011 Exile / Main St Oktoberfest this year and in the process walked away with his first world title. Sam has been a contender ever since he went pro in 2007 and the Balboa event has always been one of his strongest. This year was no different.
The Oktoberfest which has for so long been plagued rain, seemed to get everything right this year. A forecast that originally called for cloud cover proved inaccurate as attendees woke to clear skies on Saturday morning, a condition that persisted all the way through Sunday. Also in attendance were waves, lots of them. A forecast for tropical hurricane swell proved mostly inaccurate but westerly wind swell that is a mainstay of Balboa skimboarding showed up in abundance making for very fun skimboarding all weekend long. Add in some big smiles and good people and the stage was set for an epic event!
The first round of pros ran first thing Saturday morning as the swell forecast called for declining swell all weekend. The idea was to run the pros as soon as possible to take advantage of the best conditions, and the waves were quite good. Westerly lines with occasional south swell cross ups made for super contestable conditions. After the men’s pro division ran, the female pros stepped up to enjoy some solid waves, then the men’s pro division ran once again. Unfortunately by this time the wind was starting to pick up and the waves for this round were more difficult to pick in the increasingly shifty conditions. By the final heat of the second round the wind was stiff onshore and most expected things only to get worse. Then a funny thing happened… the wind died almost completely.
As the pros had already run their quarter finals, it was now time for the amateurs to enjoy some rippable waves that were for the most part, just as good if not better than what the pros got to skim. And enjoy they did, with some of the most impressive amateur skimboarding I have seen to date.
Come Sunday morning most were expecting smaller waves and difficult conditions. It was not to be. Early arrivals were treated to some extremely fun conditions, maybe even borderline epic. Before the contest even got underway there were well over 20 skimboarders in the water including some pros who couldn’t help burning out their legs before their heats. The waves were just too fun. When the heats did get under way spectators were in for a treat as the pros all but unleashed on the waves in what was some of the most exciting contest skimming I have seen in my 20+ years of watching skimboard competitions.
Semifinal number one featured Sam Stinnett, Morgan Just, Jake Stinnett and local favorite Omar Meddeb. Morgan jumped out to an early lead racking up a couple solid scores and it looked like he would be the one to beat. Then Sam and Omar started racking up scores. Sam running both ways down the beach drawing out long completed rides while Omar was boosting airs as well as getting solid wraps. Jake Stinnett responded with solid wraps and at least one good left but was struggling to put together a final scoring left, then seconds before the buzzer he found what he was looking for and scored the frontside line that very possibly squeaked him past Omar and into the final with his younger brother.
Semifinal number two was equally stacked with Brad Domke, Blair Conklin, Brandon Sears and Tim Fulton. Honestly, I am not even sure what happened in this heat. All analysis like I was able to make in the previous heat just flies out the window. Domke was throwing tech like a madman but apparently didn’t stick enough to make it through. Tim Fulton was throwing frontside airs and scoring at least one high scoring backside wrap that made the crowd go wild. Brandon Sears was getting one liner barrel after another and then boosting huge backside airs on his way back to the other side of the beach… Blair Conklin was linking together frontside trickery and backside power skimming with a smoothness no one could match, culminating in one of the longest driving barrels I have ever witnessed in competition. In fact, I it was one of the longest I can recall period. But what stood out even more than the particular waves was the non-stop action and quality of the competition. Everyone was killing it and it was a great show for all those who witnessed it. In the end however it would be Blair and Sears who moved on to the finals in a particularly memorable heat.
The stage was then set for Sam, Jake, Blair and Sears to meet up in the final heat of the season. And what a heat it was with all four competitors putting on a second show for the crowd and skimming basically evenly all the way across from most spectators’ perspectives. Each rider brought more of the same and even upped it a little bit for good measure. After the final was over, spectators were all of differing opinions on who they thought won and there wasn’t a rider in the heat who didn’t have people who thought they had won. It was exactly the kind of heat that makes skimboarding so fun to watch.
After the men’s pro final the women’s pro final came up and took advantage of what may have been even better conditions than the men had. The women’s pro division is progressing at an impressive rate and even critics would have to concede that these ladies are getting good. It’s also worth noting that there was a great female turnout at this year’s event filling out both the pro and amateur division. Female skimboarding is growing and progressing at an impressive clip, and it’s a great thing to see.
Men’s Pro Results
1. Sam Stinnett
2. Blair Conklin
3. Jake Stinnett
4. Brandon Sears
5. Tim Fulton
6. Omar Meddeb
7. Morgan Just
8. Brad Domke
Women’s Pro Results
1. Anna Prophet
2. Silvia Garavito
3. Steff Maggs
4. Tia D’Ambrosio
For more information about the full 2011 UST results, visit www.unitedskimtour.org!
More pics care of Main Street Surf Shop http://www.orangecounty.com/articles/newport-27677-oktoberfest-photos.html