Austin Keen Wins the Santa Cruz Skimbash

Words and photos by Andre Magarao

Saturday morning we woke to a pretty cloudy sky and cold crisp Santa Cruz air. The pros were in the water early in the day to take advantage of the rising high tide. The waves were small, but still pretty rippable and very glassy. Considering the standard afternoon onshore winds it was a good call to run the pros first thing in the morning.

As the heats went by, it was interesting to notice that all the higher seeded riders advanced, leaving no room for any lucky underdogs. In all 6 heats the highest ranked riders won, edging out the lesser ranked riders.

The sets, though of substantial size, were pretty few and far between so that gave the riders plenty of time to work on their airs and other tech tricks in between. From an outside point of view, it’s really impressive to see the top riders of our sport riding in more difficult conditions. We all have seen and been amazed by the same riders on epic waves over and over again in the videos. But to watch frontside airs, 540 shove-its and complicated combo tricks being easy landed over and over again in not so ideal conditions is truly impressive.

 Round 1 results

 Heat #1

 1- Sam Stinnett (ranking UST: 1)

 2- Jason Wilson (ranking UST: 9)

 3- Perry Wells (ranking UST 65)

 

 Heat #2

 1- Blair Conklin (ranking UST: 2)

 2- Jake Stinnett (ranking UST: 13)

 3- Paddy Mack (ranking UST: 91)

 

 Heat #3

 1- Tim Fulton (ranking UST: 4)

 2 – Austin Keen (ranking UST: 14)

 3 – Marcos Casteluber (Not Ranked)

 

 Heat #4

 1- Teddy Vlasis (ranking UST: 5)

 2- Travis Sampson (ranking UST: 19)

 3- David Haefele (ranking UST: Not Ranked)

 

 Heat #5

 1- Perry Pruitt (ranking UST: 6)

 2- Ken Suzuki (ranking UST: 21)

 3- Harley Nelson (ranking UST: Not Ranked)

 

 Heat #6

1- Brandon Sears (ranking UST: 8 )

 2- Johnny Salta (ranking UST: 46)

 3- Tyler Cruikshank (ranking UST: 60)

 

The second day showed more swell which in turn gave the pros more waves to choose from and gave the spectators more action to watch. Austin Keen, Perry Pruitt and Sam Stinnett started things off in the first heat of the quarter finals. Austin started really well and had what could be considered the best heat of the event. (With his Semi-Final being the runner up) He found the best waves, going both right and left. It’s worthy to note that the contest was scored based on the best 5 waves, 2 rights, 2 lefts, and the next best wave from either direction. This first heat of the day definitely helped Austin’s confidence for the next heats of the event. The big surprise of the second round was the second heat, when, after a flawless heat on the first day, Blair Conklin couldn’t keep up the same level and finished third, closely behind Brandon Sears and Travis Sampson. After the first day, when the top seeded riders showed why the are up there, on the second day, some of them had a harder time.

Quarter Finals

Heat #1

1 Austin Keen

2 Sam Stinnett

3 Perry Pruitt

 

Heat #2

1 Travis Sampson

2 Brandon Sears

3 Blair Conklin

 

Heat #3

1 Tim Fulton

2 Ken Suzuki

3 Jason Wilson

 

Heat #4

1 Teddy Vlasis

2 Jake Stinnett

3 Johnny Salta

 

The Semi finals were super tight but Sam and Jake Stinnett ended up finding the best waves and advancing to the Finals. Sam found solid backside wraps and a few frontside airs to add to his best 5 waves. While Jake found long down the lines and intense tech tricks.  Teddy continued his solid skimming, but unfortunately ran into two in form brothers that couldn’t seem to fall.

In the second heat of the Semi finals, Austin Keen impressed the judges with nice backside wraps, long backside rides down the line and he also went managed to maintain control on some critical large frontside waves.  A 360 shuv-it out to frontside bash with a few minutes remaining seemed to seal the heat for Austin. Tim Fulton busted his usual 180 air drops and also had some steezy backside wraps.  Brandon countered with standard BCS style backside airs, and smooth wraps, but couldn’t seem to come up with the big frontside scores to match. Ken was able to use his smooth un-matched style to sneak a few waves in but was unable to get the big scores needed to make a pro final these days.

Semi Finals

Heat #1

1 Sam Stinnett

2 Jake Stinnett

3 Teddy Vlasis

4 Travis Sampson

 

Heat #2

1 Austin Keen

2 Tim Fulton

3 Ken Suzuki

4 Brandon Sears

 

The finals were held during the worst conditions out of all heats of the event. Even though the sun was out, the wind was blowing strong on shore, which made the waves have multiple bumps; and with the tide falling out, the trough made it hard to decide when to run.  However, it was still skimmable, and not the worst conditions I’ve seen in a contest. Once again, Austin Keen managed to impressed the judges as well as the crowd and took home the win with his 3rd heat victory of the day. Jake found some solid waves going both ways, especially a frontside air in the very tricky conditions and finished second. Sam Stinnett had a couple of solid backside rides but couldn’t find the frontside waves to add to his total and ended up getting 4th. Tim Fulton had a more all around heat with steady frontside and backside waves, though nothing exceptionally high scoring and it paid off for third, as well as his second UST final.

Final

1 Austin Keen

2 Jake Stinnett

3 Tim Fulton

4 Sam Stinnett

 

Thanks to Mark Beasley for coordinating the event and all those involved in helping.

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