Friday, February 23, 2024

Valencia and McCullough Take First Wins of 2023 at OBX

by Miles
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Yahir Valencia Backside Liner | Photo by Maggie Fernandez (IG)

On July 21st-23rd in Nags Head, NC, the OBX SkimJam brought 24 professional men and 7 professional women to battle for a $15,000 prize purse, the largest prize purse in OBX SkimJam history. In the professional men’s division, Yahir Valencia walked away with the top spot after a fierce battle in the final against Lucas Fink. For the professional women, Casey McCullough defeated UST rookie Jaclynn Koder in the final to claim her first UST victory of 2023. 

The contest site at Jennette’s Pier saw a one-to-three foot swell throughout the three-day contest. Most of the best rides in the contest areas were right hand liners throughout the weekend, providing backside liners for goofy footers and frontside liners for regular footers. The professionals mostly ran during high-tide windows on Saturday and Sunday. While the conditions were occasionally difficult, often with hard-to-reach set waves, the conditions were nonetheless clean and contestable throughout most of the contest. 

Casey McCullough Frontside Bash | Photo by Salty Tides Photography (IG)

On the women’s side, Delaware native Sydney Pizza was a standout in the early rounds, taking first in her round two heat with 2022 UST champion McCullough taking second. On the other side of the draw, UST points leader Chabe White defeated Koder and Amber Torrealba in their round 2 heat. In the semifinals, Koder pulled out an upset in her UST debut, defeating Pizza by just 0.3 points. McCullough defeated White in the other semifinal heat, setting up a final between Koder and McCullough. 

For the men’s side, early round standouts included Elian Juarez who had the highest heat total for round 1 with 21.56 points. Timmy Gamboa had memorable rides in his early round that included tricks like big spin airs off the lip that he landed onto the open face and down the line. As the heats moved on, Brazilians Leo Freitas and Bruno Sa took their technical riding styles all the way into the quarterfinals. By the time the men’s field got whittled down to the semifinals, the same four pro men remained as they did at stop two in Santa Cruz, with Dane Cameron, Zac Henderson, Valencia and Fink making strong showings to advance into the semifinals. In the first semifinal heat, Fink defeated Henderson taking a very technical approach that included one ride in particular that started with a tre-shuv out to a spinning 360 turn and followed by a big spin after the wave. In the second semifinal heat, Valencia kicked off the heat with two rides in the 7-point range, the second of which was a far slide out where he spun a 360 out, banked off the whitewash into a liner and then popped a big spin after the wave. Valencia’s momentum in the heat held strong and the final match up was set for the second contest in a row with Valencia and Fink.

Alex Sheckells Backside Liner | Photo by Maggie Fernandez (IG)

The women’s final started with UST rookie Koder utilizing her frontside on the north end of the beach. After a few exchanges, McCullough answered back with a 360 backside turn and finished her ride with a shuvit. On the very next wave she ran left and laid into a fierce frontside bash. These two scores pushed her ahead in the heat and McCullough ultimately ran away with the win. “My win at the OBX SkimJam was really important because it’s setting me up for a good start on the United Skim Tour,” McCullough said after her win. “I’m really excited to be able to be competing again and coming off a win going into the next contest.” 

Jaclynn Koder Backside Air | Photo by Maggie Fernandez (IG)

The men’s final with Valencia and Fink started strong, and after four waves from each competitor, the scoreline was 21.03 by Valencia and 21.13 by Fink. About five minutes into the final, Valencia had priority as he picked up his board in anticipation of a wave but Fink started running first. Fink and Valencia both ran for the same section of the same wave. Because Valencia had already picked up his board before the wave and held priority, the judges deemed he had shown intent and was entitled to catch the wave. Fink was penalized with a major interference penalty, which cost him his highest score and made his scoreline two waves instead of three. Valencia took home the title in OBX, with Fink falling to the second-place spot.

In the points race on the Men’s side Valencia has advanced his first-place lead with 2656 points. Dane Cameron sits in second with 2084 points. The next three competitors are tightly grouped with Lucas Fink in third, Timmy Gamboa in fourth, and Chad Wadsworth in fifth with 1867 points, 1764 points, and 1741 points, respectively. The women’s side sees Chabe White maintain her lead with 1810 points, followed by Ashley Poshard maintaining second with 1431. Behind them sits Amber Torrealba in third with 1319 points, Julia Dias in fourth with 1246 points, and Sydney Pizza in fifth with 1207.

Results

Pro Men

  1. Yahir Valencia – Barra de Navidad, Mexico
  2. Lucas Fink – Rio de Janiero, Brazil
  3. Dane Cameron – Laguna Beach, CA
  4. Zac Henderson – Laguna Beach, CA

See Full Pro Men 2023 Standings

Pro Women

  1. Casey McCullough – Stuart Beach, FL
  2. Jaclynn Koder – Pensacola, FL
  3. Chabe White – Mazunte, Mexico
  4. Sydney Pizza – Dewey Beach, DE

See Full Pro Women 2023 Standings

Words by David Haefele
Photos by Salty Tides Photography (IG), Maggie Fernandez (IGand Devin Demenezes (IG)

This post was originally published on this site

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