Blair Conklin Wins the 2013 Tac SkimBlast – UST Stop #7

Words and photos by Steve Taylor

We arrived at 26th Ave in Santa Cruz for the 1st Annual Tac Apparel SkimBlast to find a very small swell lapping with a low tide rising. Morale was low like the tide with the fear that it would be flat all weekend, and everyone would be stuck battling it out in a waveless contest. Fears were put aside as Round 1 of the Pros took to the water after preliminary grom heats. The tide was filling in and there was enough swell to find a fun corner, and even a few siders were refracting off the southern end of the beach. It was a brave move to go for the sider but guys like Morgan Just, Perry Pruitt, and Jackson Tenney were able to pick off some small siders and secondaries to roll through the first two rounds of competition. The biggest upset came when Tim Fulton was knocked out of Round 1. The conditions diminished for Round 2 on Day One competition and so did the highlights, we prayed for more contestable conditions come Day Two.

Day Two was upon us and a little more South swell had filled in. The contest site was similar to the day prior, however just North of the scaffolding around the rocks, there was a nearly perfect A-frame wave coming in with each set. There’s a small reef just off the beach which drew just enough energy to make perfect little waves. Contest Director Ben Koscielniak made the call to move up the beach for the Pros to give them the best conditions possible and showcase their true skill. The Pros were hyped and Round 3 was off to a bang. Standouts in Round 3 were Sam Stinnett, Blair Conklin, Austin Keen local hero David Haefele. Morgan Just barely lost out to an in form Perry Pruitt and Blair Conklin in the gnarliest of the Round 3 match ups. Blair Conklin locked into the wave of the contest a head high backside wrap in and out mid heat that took him from most likely 3rd in the heat at that time to standout 1st. Brad Domke mixed things up with super creative frontside airs and grabs, and Brandon Sears was up to his usual solid wraps and backside airs routine. From Round 3 we went into man on man QuarterFinals. The United Skim Tour has been pushing hard to make as many Man on Man heats for the pro’s to give better wave selection opportunities and a more exciting format for spectators as well as allowing judges to focus on each ride better. The crowd was hyped. With the entire crowd flocking onto the rocks we had a stadium type event for the rest of the contest. The QuarterFinals were heavy. Local Hero, David Haefele fell to Sam Stinnett in the final heat of the quarters but not without a good fight. Blair Conklin edged out Brandon Sears, Austin Keen took care of Brad Domke who struggled to stay on his board unfortunately, and Perry Pruitt squeaked past Jake Stinnett.

The Semi’s were the highlight for me personally. Sam Stinnett and Blair Conklin man on man, and Perry Pruitt against Austin Keen. Both heats were head to head from start to finish. Sam and Blair were matching each other wave for wave, liner to 3 shuv, liner to big spin, wrap barrel, backside air, and then Blair locked it in with one of the cleanest wraps of the day. Perry Pruitt was edged out by Austin by only .2 points. The dreads were on fire. Austin seemed to get waves that had just a bit more size, and were a tad more difficult and Perry was getting silky smooth backside wrap after backside wrap. So we were left with two, Austin and Blair.

The Final saw a dropping tide and a bit of wind hit the water, but as far as contest conditions go it’s as much as we could ask for. It was still barreling and still super rip-able. Austin and Blair went blow for blow and it seemed like Blair just had a little extra energy pent up for the Final, as he was able to loft a huge backside air and tuck into one of the better backside wrap waves that came through. In the end it was Blair Conklin taking the win back to UC Berkeley where he recently started his first year of College. Thanks to Ben Koscielniak and Tac Apparel for putting on the best Santa Cruz contest that I can recall, and to all those that helped out. We’ll see you next year SkimBlast.

Final Results:
1. Blair Conklin
2. Austin Keen
3. Sam Stinnett
4. Perry Pruitt
5. Jake Stinnett
6. Brad Domke