Sam Stinnett Wins UST Portugal

Words By: Rui Marinho

For the first time ever the United Skim Tour visited Portugal and one of the biggest skimboarding events in Europe. Last week the UST Internacional de Skimboard organized by José Costa took place in the beautiful town of  Santa Cruz, Torres Vedras.

Portuguese skimboarding legend Hugo Santos was bested by the top ranked UST competitor Sam Stinnett who earned his third win in only four UST events so far this season.  With this win Sam tied last year’s record setting 3 wins in a single season and there are still four UST events to go in 2012.

The contest was held over a 5 day waiting period from July 18th through July 22nd.  The forecast called for the first 3 days of the waiting period to have very strong winds and it was clear the pro division would be pushed to the final two weekend days where the lighter winds would yield better conditions for the competition.

On Wednesday morning competitors arrived to a sunny but also windy beach.  Around 11:00 a long line formed for the check in process at the beach.  One could hear lots different languages from Portuguese, English (British and American), Spanish and French were easy to make out.  You could feel that this is it, this was a true international contest.  That would be even more true when Kalemba Skim arrived, traveling all the way from Angola to remind us what skimming is all about: Run, Drop, Slide and Fun!  It was a truly a great experience to see and meet such great people.

At the end of the day a big welcome barbecue party was held at the hostel.  On Thursday and Friday amateur divisions ran making room for the pros to get the best conditions on the weekend.

On Saturday the wind dropped considerably as expected, but unfortunately so did the swell… but we still had fun waves for some top notch skimboarding.

In the first round the guys that stood out were the Portuguese Simão, Mega, Hugo, André Abrantes, Afonso Ruiz, and the local Eduardo Joaquim.   Frenchman Tristan Lamy got 1st  in tight heat between 2nd place finisher Gonçalo Santos who pushed Dave Scott to 3rd.  The last heat of this round turned out to be more “difficult”.  Marti Borras from Spain got a really good wave but couldn’t manage to get a second one to match (two waves counted).  He was edged out by Morgan Just in 1st and Eduardo Joaquim in 2nd. Blair and Sam also turned some heads in their heats.

In the quarter finals Teddy Vlasis was skimming strong and got 1st with Hugo in 2nd knocking out Simao Pinto who couldn’t find the waves he needed.  Fernando Silva who got to the quarters coming from the trials took fourth.  Next the Stinnett brothers were up with Sam getting some strong frontside waves in 1st, Mega in 2nd, followed by the young Diogo Abrantes in 3rd and Jake in 4th. In the other 2 heats Eduardo got the best waves and got 1st followed by Blair.  Morgan took 1st in the last quarter final followed by Rafael Santos in 2nd.

Saturday ended with 4 Portuguese and 4 Americans in the pro semi-finals.

The rest of the day the final of Masters were held with Portuguese Mario Saxe taking 1st in a close fight with the Spaniard Oliver Campoy.

At the end of day Kalemba skim put on a demo of skimming “their” way which was incredible to see.  It was a great time to share with our brothers from Africa and when the sun went the down party moved to the streets and bars of Santa Cruz.

Sunday was the last day of the UST in Portugal and we were down to the semi and the man on man finals.

In the 1st semi Sam got into more technical maneuvers and got 1st in a very close heat. Hugo skimmed some good waves and got 2nd while Mega took 3rd.  Teddy Vlasis didn’t feel as inspired as he did on Saturday and got 4th.  In the next semi-final Blair Conklin scored a clutch wave in the final minute to win the heat, while Eduardo got 2nd leaving behind Morgan Just in 3rd and Rafael Santos in 4th.

Then there were four.  And again it was the same ratio, two Americans and two Portuguese. The hometown favorites Hugo Santos and Eduardo Joaquim both riding Portuguese brands, Hugo with Reflex Skimboards and Eduardo with Hexa Skimboards. And the Americans Blair Conklin and Sam Stinnett from the US both riding for Exile boards.

The 1st man on man semi was Sam and Eduardo and the second one Hugo and Blair.  They were both very tight semis with Sam taking the best of local boy Eduardo by a small margin.  Hugo showed some experience picking bigger consistent wraps, while Blair didn’t manage to land some of his airs resulting in a 2nd place finish.

The stage was then set for a epic final between UST champion Sam Stinnett and European/Portuguese champion Hugo Santos.  It couldn’t have been scripted any better.  The conditions weren’t easy as they had been, due to the higher tide.  When deciding the length of the final according the conditions Sam wanted 15 minutes while Hugo wanted 20.  To resolve this they flipped a coin and Sam won.  It would be a 15 minute final, 10 total waves, the 2 best count.

It was a tense final with riders looking for good waves in the entire length of the beach while a big crowed of around 300 people gathered to watch. Hugo tried to do what he does best going for the outside sets while Sam aimed for the closer in wraps pushing up on the beach.

In the end Sam took the victory by less than half a point over Hugo Santos.  Sam’s score: 13.63.  Hugo’s score: 13.23.

In the podium fight for 3rd place, Blair got the better of Eduardo landing in third.

The award ceremony took place at the hostel.  A live band, drinks, food, and good vibes kept everyone happy as the finalists of each division were called.  The Skim USA team dominated the top spots of the amateur divisions.  Steph Mags, John Weber and Daniel O’Connor won the Women’s, Junior’s and Senior divisions.

At the end of the awards the Kalemba skim team from Angola offered 2 “kalemba” skimboards to Hugo and Sam who were very honored to receive them.  Victoria and Zap offered some boards to Kalemba Skim so they can improve and spread the word about our amazing sport.

This was a great first UST in Portugal and it was only possible with the hard work by “the man”, José Costa.  We have to thank him not only for this UST event, but for all the other events and hard work he has put in to promoting Portuguese skimboarding over the years. Thanks José, and thanks to all the partners especially Manel Sport for supporting skimboarding for the last decade in Santa Cruz.

It was a true international contest with skimmers from 3 continents that shared great experiences all week.  This was a great first UST in Portugal. We hope to see you again soon.

All Photos By: Artur Costa / FreeSkimMag