Lucas Fink Floater in the Final | Photo by Matt Folsom
On July 15th in Santa Cruz, California, the TAC Skimblast brought 25 professional skimboarders to Third Ave for the second stop of the Men’s division on the 2023 United Skim Tour. After missing the first stop of the tour due to injury and scheduling conflicts, Lucas Fink returned and claimed the top spot. The contest included riders from Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Florida, Southern California and Santa Cruz.
The swell was forecasted to be 2-5 feet for weeks leading up to the event. However, about five days before the event, a large rock garden appeared at the contest site, leading to very troughy conditions. The incoming swell helped groom the slope on Thursday and Friday, improving conditions and removing many of the rocks. While Saturday still saw very rocky and very troughy conditions, the 2-4 foot swell was very contestable. The difficult conditions made wave selection paramount throughout the event, as the top performing riders were those who could find clean open faces often linked with technical combinations.
During the morning rounds, standouts included Bill Bryan who managed to find buzzer beater scores in each of his first three rounds, advancing him to the quarter finals. Reef Grell in his UST debut also had great early morning heats with his stylish approach to one of his home breaks in Santa Cruz. Chad Wadsworth was another skimboarder to watch out for, as he was spinning 360 backside blow-tail turns in almost every heat he had through the morning.
In the afternoon rounds, contest organizers waited for the tide to bottom out and start rising before starting the quarter final rounds. This proved to bring better conditions as the rising tide helped ease the troughy conditions. In the semifinals, Lucas Fink faced up against Zac Henderson, and in that heat Lucas had perhaps the best ride of the contest, linking a 360 shuvit out to a wave to a spinning 360 backside turn and then driving into a troughy barrel. The crowd erupted and Lucas advanced to the final soon after. In the other semifinal heat, Yahir Valencia went head-to-head with Dane Cameron. Yahir pulled ahead with one of the highest heat totals of the day, that was accented by a very critical 360 shuvit airdrop that he stomped into the rock garden and rode up to a roaring crowd.
The final once again saw Yahir matched up against Lucas, a matchup we saw in three different finals last year. These two competitors brought a tech battle to the troughy conditions and really excelled in finding the best waves during the 12 minute heat. Yahir had some awesome rides including a backside line to big spin airdrop onto the sand. About 5 minutes into the heat when each rider had 3 rides down, it seemed like Yahir was pulling away, with 17.17 points compared to Lucas’s 11.04. A few minutes later, Lucas hit a huge troughy wall and stuck a 360 shuvit on the lip and accelerated down the beach onto the sand. He soon after found a head-high lip-line floater that he powered through the rock garden. A few moments later, the announcer counted down the time, and Lucas celebrated as the winner of the 2023 TAC Skimblast.
“I’m super stoked as usual, especially in Santa Cruz. That place is very special for me,” said Lucas after his win. “It feels like home. Great friends. Great weather. Great vibes all around.” Lucas went on to explain the importance of this win for his title run. “Being away from the first stop kind of sucked, due to an injury and due to scheduling. But it was a great comeback. Feels good. Feels right. I’m still hungry and still here. Let’s go to the east coast.”
Timmy Gamboa Tre Shuv | Photo by Matt Folsom
After the event, Yahir has pulled into first place with 1671 points. In second is Chad Wadsworth with 1335, followed by Dane Cameron with 1295 and Timmy Gamboa with 1198. Bryan Lopez and Lucas Fink are tied for 5th with 985 points each.
- Lucas Fink – Rio de Janiero, Brazil
- Yahir Valencia – Barra de Navidad, Mexico
- Dane Cameron – Laguna Beach, CA
- Zac Henderson – Laguna Beach, CA