Conklin Returns to Win the Vic while Fink Clinches UST Title

by Chandler
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Blair Conklin Backside Wrap | Photo by Tyler Brooks (IG)

The 46th annual Vic skimboarding competition took place on August 26th and 27th at Aliso Beach in Laguna Beach, California. For the professional men’s division of the UST, this was the fifth of six events. The pro men’s division included 42 skimboarders including riders from Brazil, Mexico, Japan, the east coast, and California. Blair Conklin of Laguna Beach returned to competition for the first time since 2021, and he claimed the top spot. Lucas Fink of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil finished in second place ahead of Yahir Valencia from Barra de Navidad, Mexico. Fink’s second place finish ahead of Y. Valencia’s was enough to secure the points lead in the UST standings, and Fink clinched the 2023 Men’s UST title, his third UST title. 

The conditions saw 2-4 foot waves on Saturday and 1-3 foot waves on Sunday. Throughout both days of competition, the conditions were clean with minimal wind. On both days of competition, the best riders sought out liners running from the north end of the beach to the south, with many riding as far as 40 yards down the beach. The competition also saw plenty of wraps throughout the event, with the best wrap of the weekend caught by Gerardo Valencia, Yahir’s brother. G. Valencia caught the biggest wave of the event on Saturday. He slid far out over dead water to wrap the overhead wave, glided down the face celebrating with his arms up high and then did a 360 shuvit before tucking into a small barrel. G. Valenca received an award for the best ride of the weekend for that wave.

Yahir Valencia Backside Rail Grab | Photo by Tyler Brooks (IG)

Other standout moments from day one include Joāo Lucas from Brazil who attended his first UST event and made it through the qualifying round. Conklin’s first round was the highest scoring performance of the whole weekend, as he opened the heat with a searing frontside slash and then quickly took the air on his second wave. The final heat of round two saw three high-ranked riders face off with Y. Valencia, Timmy Gamboa, and Bruno Sa. Sa ended up with a 21.20 heat total, which would have gotten him 1st in any other heat in that round, but it wasn’t enough to advance against Y. Valencia and Gamboa who scored 22.66 and 21.37 respectively. 

By Sunday morning, the pro field had been whittled down to the top 8. In the second heat, Fink went up against Bill Bryan who has won this event 14 times. Fink put together a well rounded heat and took a relatively clear win over Bryan. Despite losing in the quarters, this performance marked the 31st year that Bryan had advanced to the quarterfinals or better at the Vic, a record that is sure to stand the test of time. In the fourth quarterfinal heat, Chad Wadsworth received an interference on the final exchange and lost to Conklin who advanced to the semifinals.

Vic Podium | Photo by David Haefele (IG)

In semifinal heat one, Conklin faced off with the UST points leader Y. Valencia. Valencia took a more technical approach, finding long backside liners and landing 360 shuvits throughout the heat. Conklin found the biggest wrap barrel of the heat in the final seconds, and that was enough to give him the edge to advance to the final. In semifinal heat two, Fink and Gamboa went head to head. Fink took a more technical approach, throwing 360 shuvits before his rides, while Gamboa took a more explosive approach that included a big backside 180 airdrop to the sand. Fink ended up coming out on top at the end of the heat. 

The final was a matchup we hadn’t seen in skimboarding in many years, Conklin vs. Fink. On his third wave of the heat, Conklin lined up a clean frontside turn on a frontside liner, drove down the beach, and then popped a big alley-oop bigspin on the end section. This was the highest score of the heat with a 7.87. He quickly backed it up with a big backside straight air. During the second half of the heat, Fink turned on. He landed a clean backside full rotation air. Later he stuck a 540 shuvit out to a small backside bash. Despite Fink turning it on late in the heat, the judges ultimately sided with Conklin who had some of the longer rides of the heat. Conklin was awarded the win of the 46th annual Vic.

Dane Cameron Backside Wrap | Photo by Nick Souza (Website | IG)

UST Points Race
With a second place finish, Lucas Fink clinched the pro men’s UST title for the 2023 season. With 3823 points for the season, he has pulled far enough ahead that no other competitor can catch him. Yahir Valencia has also locked his position in second place with 3531 points. Behind that, there is plenty of opportunity for things to shake up at the final event of the season in Newport. Dane Cameron sits in third with 2900 points. Timmy Gamboa is in fourth with 2565 points, and Zac Henderson wraps up the top five with 2352 points.

Pro Men

  1. Blair Conklin – Laguna Beach, CA
  2. Lucas Fink – Rio de Janiero, Brazil
  3. Yahir Valencia – Barra de Navidad, Mexico
  4. Timmy Gamboa – Laguna Beach, CA

See Full Pro Men 2023 Standings

Words by David Haefele
Photos by Tyler Brooks (IG) and Nick Souza (Website | IG)

This post was originally published on this site

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