Austin Keen Wins The Outer Banks Skim Jam
Words by Woody Harris
Photos by Raleigh Thompson and Woody Harris
There’s sugar coating it; day one of the Outer Banks Skim Jam was one of the flattest days that I have seen all summer. Add very hot air temperatures and chilly water temps and you’ve got the conditions of July, 20th, 2013 in Kill Devil Hills, NC. Despite the conditions being against them, the professionals managed to put on a great show for the crowd. Skimboarders know how to make the best out of nothing; because most of us started skimboarding when the waves were too small to surf, and then we fell in love with it. Although the waves were lacking in size, they were lining up pretty well, which helped the professional competitors with small wave experience to dominate. The skimboarder’s whose day one performances stuck out in my mind were Austin Keen, Brad Domke, Max Smetts, and Shawn Kenny. All of which have spent their fair share of time making the most of tiny shore break.
As I walked towards the royal blue contest tents on day two, I was pleasantly surprised to see an increase in the swell, and what finally looked like real North Caroliners. The contest officials were wise and chose to run the last two final rounds of professional heats near high tide, which was a drastic difference from the morning tide due to the moon waxing very close to full. As usual, Morgan Just was the lone goofy footer to excel in the east coast liners on his backhand. Morgan seems to thrive in conditions that other goofy footers struggle in. I was also very Impressed with Max Smetts performance which not only included his usual tech game, but also a few powerful frontside hacks that blew the crowd away.
The four riders who earned their way into the final heat of the event were Brad Domke, Austin Keen, Max Smetts, and Morgan Just. As the tide continued to fill in and the sun began to set, the waves continued to get better. Even as the event’s award ceremony was underway, I watched perfect liners roll through in awe. Within the final heat, it felt like there was a separate man on man heat going on between Brad Domke and Austin Keen. Inception. Brad and Austin were matching maneuver for maneuver. Both skimboarders managed quite a few corked out back side three sixties with variations in their grabbing preference, Domke choosing kerrupt grabs while Austin choose the traditional indy grab. As if that wasn’t enough to take first place; the two skimboarders were also sticking almost every tech trick I’ve seen either land in a contest. When it came down to who would walk away with first place, Austin narrowly took the win by catching one or two larger waves and effortlessly pulling big combinations of huge turns and big spins down the face of the wave.
1. Austin Keen
2. Brad Domke
3. Morgan Just
4. Max Smetts
5. Shawn Kenny
6. Sam Stinnett