Northeast Skim Tour 2013 Finals Write Up
Words by Stan Parker
Photos by Corey MacLeod
CHATHAM, Mass., — The Northeast Skim Tour’s summer season wrapped up Sunday on the outer beaches of Cape Cod with its fourth and final event of 2013.
In the men’s division, Cape Cod native Noah Barmmer took home top honors, out-skimming Rhode Island’s Drew Plourd, Maine’s Alex Csajko, and Ocean Bluff’s Sean Kenneally in the final round.
Alex Csajko came in second, and Drew Plourd, the season’s overall points leader, came in third. Sean Kenneally finished with his best result of the year, taking fourth place.
For the junior men’s division, the top three spots were swept by the crew from Ocean Bluff, Massachusetts. Ian Wright, topping off a great season with a win at the finals, was also the all-season point leader with two other NEST competition wins under his belt. Andrew Spaulding took second place, and third place was Jamie Kelly.
Each morning for the two-day event, a ferry skippered by the good-natured captain Jimmy C, shuttled skimmers and spectators from the Chatham fish pier out to North Beach Island. There, it’s open ocean all the way to Europe, making for the best chance at long-period swell.
The weather was mostly cooperative. Decent swell gave the skimmers plenty to work with Saturday morning, allowing time for the seeding rounds in the men’s division and a full round robin for the junior men’s competitors.
Then the wind kicked up in the afternoon, crumbling most of the nice peaks the riders saw in the morning.
On Sunday, boats to the island went out earlier, hoping to make the most of the tide. With everyone ready to go by prime tide, heats started firing off.
First a men’s non-elimination round, followed by the loser’s bracket elimination heat. The conditions started tapering, but the wind held off. And enthusiasm stayed strong for the quarterfinals and semi-final rounds.
With the final four selected for the men’s division, an expression session let the junior mens division show their style and push for progression.
After a short break, the finals for the junior men’s led into the final face-off in the men’s division.
That’s when Cape Cod native Noah Barmmer sealed the deal. Home-court advantage? Who knows.
This competition series, in its current incarnation, is in its second year under the name “The Northeast Skim Tour,” and the third year under the direction of Massachusetts skimmer (and good friend of mine) Colter Miller.
The roots of the current tour and contest date back to the early-2000s, when New England skimmers started gathering on Cape Cod for what was originally a nameless skim gathering. Those skimmers called themselves the Reckless Skim Crew.
Two of the Reckless Crew, Cape Cod skimboarders Sean Stevens and Tom Wrinn, did much of the legwork to set up the Cape Cod competitions in 2006, 2007 and 2008 under the name White Crest Washout.
“Sean used to skimboard in Wellfleet, and didn’t like to skim alone. He would always try to get people to come out and skim on the cape,” Colter said. “ And we were always happy to oblige.”
Then, in 2009, Massachusetts skimboarder Josh Craig brought in Florida-based Skim Invasion and skim legend Paulo Prietto. Skim Invasion ran the contest, by this time known as the Cape Cod Nor’easter. Prietto ran a youth skim camp and helped judge the competition.
“Paulo put on a show like none that had ever been seen before while attacking the fabled Cape Cod liners,” Colter said. “That was a great year for liners because there were a few full-on sandbar-style point breaks.”
Fourth-place finisher Sean Kenneally said this was the moment that brought the regional skim community together.
And, if these guys will excuse the Facebook stalking, a Tuesday night series of posts seems to solidify that.
After Exile’s Steve Taylor congratulated Noah Barmmer on his win at the finals, Josh Craig chimed in:
“This kid has come so far. I remember seeing you trying to ride a skimboard that was basically as big as you. I feel like we owe a lot of our progress to Paulo Prietto. Since he visited, I feel a whole new energy in the sport in our area. And seeing riders like Noah, proves that with the right motivation and good teaching, great things can happen.”
Noah, who had attended Paulo’s skim camp that year, responded: “Thanks, Steve and Josh. After Paulo came, it definitely hyped me up on skim boarding, and bet it did that for the other kids in camp. Definitely a game changer.”
Skim Invasion ran the contest for one more year. Then, in 2011, Colter picked up the reigns of the Nor’easter.
In 2012, the Northeast Skim Tour was born: a four-stop competition series, hitting up beaches in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
The series is steadily gaining in popularity. Over the course of the 2013 season, NEST hosted a total of 56 competitors, averaging about 30 per event. That’s up about 30 percent from last year.
In addition to growing participation, the tour has also attracted an increasing sponsorship roster. Exile Skimboards and Let’s Party Traction have become integral in seeing this tour come to life. But a lot of supportive companies have thrown their weight behind this tour as well: Hurley, Vita Coco, Surf-Vival Sunscreen, Honu Sandals, Alley-Oop Skim Shop. And the tour also got help from local board shops like Boarding House, Warm Winds, Zapstix Surfshop, and Levitate.
As the tour’s director, Colter sees the importance of an organized community and format for competition in any sport, especially for one he loves as much as skimboarding.
“There’s always been a number of smaller pockets of skimboarders, but they didn’t have enough people to build upon. People would skim with their friends, and then when their friends moved, away, they would stop skimmimg,” he said.
The hope is that by strengthening the regional network, skimmers will always know there’s someone to skim with.
“[I want to create] a positive environment for people to test themselves and learn how to interact with others in a competition environment, while still developing healthy friendships and relationships.”