Austin Keen Wins The 2014 Cabo Clasico – UST Stop #2
By Aaron Peluso
Last weekend 37 of the best pro skimboarders in the world converged upon Cabo San Lucas for the annual Cabo Clasico. This year’s pro field was particularly ‘international’ drawing competitors from Portugal, Brazil, Hawaii, mainland USA, and of course… Mexico. However the country list doesn’t do justice to just how diverse this competition was. Brazil’s top riders Leandro Azevedo and Renato Lima were on hand to scare just about everyone who got a heat with them, and to demonstrate how to properly ride a skimboard when not in a heat as well. One of Portugal’s top riders Emmanuel Embaixador was on hand to turn some heads and send some competitors packing. And finally there was the Mexico contingent. Seasoned event finalist and Cabo local Juan Carlos (“Bullo”) was on hand to snag probably the best waves of the entire event and pump up the crowd like no one else, but so too were other Mexican competitors like Gerardo Valencia and Jose Eduardo who skimmed impressively throughout the event and knocked out some big name skimboarders. Hawaiian competitor Jesse James Solomon definitely got some cheers from me as he skimmed the Cabo shorebreak as if he had been doing it all his life. All of this was in addition to every top UST pro from 2013 making it a true challenge for all who dared enter.
Conditions for the three day event were the best in years. A solid swell provided near perfect conditions leading up to the event, and indeed, through the event. Wind which is always a factor in Cabo led the event organizers to choose a 7:30am start time in order to get as many glassy heats as possible. This worked well and over the three days almost every pro heat ran in glassy near perfect Cabo shorebreak. The event organizers made one controversial call which was to try and give the amateurs some time in the favorable conditions. This was great for the AM’s, no doubt, but it also meant that the pro’s had to run Round #3 in extremely difficult wind blown late evening conditions. Needless to say, a few gripes were overheard.
But they were quickly forgotten the next morning as near flawless waves greeted competitors for the final day of competition. Twelve competitors remained, six ‘Americans’ and six non-‘Americans’. Spectators couldn’t help wonder if this would be the year that a non-US skimboarder finally took the Cabo Clasico. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have been surprised. Leandro and Renato were both on top of their game taking the top spot in their first Sunday morning heats joined by Tim Fulton and Teddy Vlassis. Tour verterans and top UST competitors Sam Stinnett and Austin Keen took second going into the quarter final in close battles.
But then it was down to eight and the man on man heats came into play.
Due to their performance throughout the event thus far, Leandro and Renato had grabbed the top seeds for the quarters drawing Perry Pruitt and Austin Keen respectively. Leandro was able to edge out Perry Pruitt but Renato couldn’t quite find the waves he needed to unseat the reigning champ. Meanwhile Bullo got the best of Tim Fulton and Sam Stinnett did what he does in his heat with Teddy Vlasis.
It was then down to four. Leandro and Bullo squared off in a epic battle to make the final with neither rider coming away with a decisive win, but with Bullo getting the nod on paper. In the second semi, 2013 #1 and #2 battled it out to make it to the final and also to acquire the precious points they will need to contend for the UST title this year. In my eyes Sam Stinnett probably had the best of Austin throughout the heat culminating in what appeared as though it would be a trademark ‘final seconds heat winning wrap’ that Sam does like no one else. Sam glided out to a perfect looking backside wrap as the final seconds ticked down, rode it perfectly coming back around for what everyone expected would be a cavernous barrel, except that it never really opened up the way we all expected. It was still a barrel, and still a good one… just not a great one. With even less time on the clock everyone’s attention turned to Austin who was already running for a difficult late wrap. This one however worked out much better than expected opening up perfectly for Austin’s outstretched arms, embracing his path to the final.
So it would be Bullo and Austin in the man on man final.
For whatever reason, Neptune wasn’t quite doing its thing for the final and great waves were in short supply. In these conditions Austin who is in my opinion probably the most well rounded skimboarder in the world, was able to find the little bit extra he needed to best Bullo, who probably would have won the whole thing if another one of those big goofy wraps came through.
So that was it. The 2014 Cabo Clasico. If anyone has questions (or comments) leave them below!
- Austin keen
- Juan Carlos (“Bullo”)
- Sam Stinnett
- Leandro Azevedo
- Renato Lima
- Teddy Vlasis
Photos by Aaron Peluso, Jaleesa Peluso and Marco Arroyo