Yahir Valencia places first in OBX Skim Jam after interference penalty knocks Lucas Fink out of top spot

Published 4:24 pm Saturday, July 29, 2023

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The 2023 OBX Skim Jam skimboarding competition, presented by Skim USA, was held at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head from July 21 through 23, 2023. The event drew competitors from around the world, with a $12,000 prize purse up for grabs. Men and women professionals competed as part of the United Skim Tour (UST), the world’s premier international professional skimboarding tour. The Outer Banks was the third stop out of six on this year’s world tour for the professional men’s division, and the second of four stops for the women’s.

Two-time world champion skimboarder Lucas Fink was favored to win the pro men’s division, locked in at the number one seed and coming off of a big win at the prior tour stop in Santa Cruz, California. The 24-year-old Brazilian spoke with The Coastland Times early last Saturday morning, and shared that he started skimboarding when he was 6-years-old. As he developed his skills, Fink enjoyed the fact that skimboarding mixes elements from surfing and skateboarding together to create a fun, action-packed sport. “At the end of the day, we’re just kids having fun,” he said. “I keep having fun with it. It’s a dream come true to be able to do this every day … the true stoke of being on the board … that’s what keeps us coming back.”

The final heat in the pro men’s division came down to Fink and 19-year-old Yahir Valencia from Barra De Navidad, Mexico. Five minutes into the final, Valencia had priority as he picked up his board in anticipation of a wave. Fink and Valencia both ran for the same section of the same wave; because Valencia picked up his board, the judges deemed he showed intent and was entitled to catch the wave. Lucas 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.

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In the pro women’s division, 2022 women’s UST champion Casey McCullough of Stuart, Florida placed first at the 2023 OBX Skim Jam. The Coastland Times caught up with 29-year-old McCullough prior to her first heat of the competition. The champion has been skimboarding pro for 10 years now, and to those who might be interested in picking up the sport, she shared some advice: “It’s all about practice,” she said. “Really, being at the beach and getting that kind of activity for training is better … when it comes to wanting to compete and riding through the waves … it’s so unique that your best training is just doing the sport.” As for UST, McCullough said this competition is one of her favorites.

Other international competitors involved in the weekend’s event included Shota Fujioka of Japan, Bruno Sa of Brazil and the 2021 men’s UST champion Gerardo Valencia of Mexico, the 28-year-old brother of Yahir. The event also saw some local faces, including Perry Pruitt of Kitty Hawk and Brady Green of Kill Devil Hills. Pruitt served as a judge this year for OBX Skim Jam, but has competed in the past. Green competed and placed 18th in the pro men’s division.

Skim USA also features amateur divisions for both men and women in a wide variety of age groups. Eight-year-old Brody Chandler-Thompson from Dewey Beach, Delaware was looking forward to participating in the “Minis” division (8 and under) prior to his first heat. As for skimboarding, Brody shared that his favorite part of the sport is “how much fun you have.” He placed second in Virginia Beach and New Jersey prior to OBX Skim Jam, and placed second in the finals at the event.

All final results from the 2023 OBX Skim Jam can be found at unitedskimtour.org. Remaining UST tour events include the Zap Championships in Dewey Beach, Delaware, the Vic West in Laguna Beach, California and the Exile Oktoberfest in Newport Beach, California.