In the aftermath of The Vic skim boarding contest at Aliso Beach, contestant Blair Conklin found himself in a gauntlet of hugs and high fives, as family and friends took turns congratulating the 18-year-old SoLag favorite on his first hometown pro victory. “It’s always something I’ve dreamed about,” said a humbled Conklin, overwhelmed by all the adulation.
This year’s two-day Vic also marked a milestone for women, as the 37th running of the sport’s oldest contest became the inaugural event on the newly formed, three-event women’s United Skim Tour. The other two events will be held in North Carolina and Newport Beach.
With the last weekend in June already marked on her calendar, defending champion Keiao Guewa-Buscasas
was excited about the opportunity to compete in the first women’s UST event. “I definitely had to get out here,” said the Oahu native.
Battling a record field of 14 women and what many were calling the biggest waves in Vic history, “I was able to pull out a couple of good waves and got lucky I guess,” said Guewa-Buscasas.
“We all want to see big barrels right on shore there,” said Charles “Tex” Haines, contest promoter and owner of Laguna Beach-based Victoria Skimboards.
So when the forecast called for a series of large southern swells to collide with a northwest swell on contest weekend, “we about died,” said Haines. “That’s all you could ask for.”
Big waves weren’t the only overhead obstacle competitors had to deal with. Over the days leading up to the event, pounding surf created a huge berm that skimmers had to descend as they began their approach to the surf. It was “hard to get down it and carry your speed,” said Conklin.
Add to the berm a freakish midday cold front on Sunday that wiped out the sun and unleashed a fierce sea breeze that made it difficult for skimmers to control their boards, and you had a recipe for a men’s semi final that featured outstanding rides as well as embarrassing diggers that sent seasoned pros sprawling on the sand.
The first of two men’s semi final heats matched Conklin’s aerial maneuvers against the technical prowess of 14-time world champion Bill Bryan. It was close, but Conklin’s style seemed to be the difference.
The second semi pitted two-time defending champ Sam Stinnet against Brandon Sears, the 2009 winner. They came out swinging like two heavy weights, throwing everything they had at one other.
At one point, Stinnet stood atop the berm and gave a thumbs up in tribute to a beautiful barrel finish by Sears. Stinnet then proceeded to close out the heat with his own long, trick-filled ride that took him way up the beach.
In the end it was Sears and Conklin for the final, with Conklin easily out scoring Sears, who couldn’t seem to find his waves. Conklin’s victory moves him from seventh to second in the UST point standings behind Stinnet.
Women’s Pro Results
1. Keiao Gucwa-Bucasas
2. Lanakila Kelliher
3. Steff Mags
4. Skylar Wilson
5. Sioban McAuliffe
6. Yasmyn Andrade
7. Erin Carpenter
8. Kumiko Sawada
Men’s Pro Results
1. Blair Conklin
2. Brandon Sears
3. Sam Stinnett
4. Bill Bryan
5. Teddy Vlasis
6. Morgan Just
7. Brad Domke
8. Jake Stinnett
For complete results of the 2013 WCS, visit http://thevic.victoriaskimboards.com