Blain Conklin is from Laguna Beach, California. A three-time United Skim Tour Champion and Berkeley-educated environmental scientist, he’s known for being able to ride any type of board in any type of water-based environment. From getting barrelled on a skimboard at the Wedge, to pulling huge rodeo flips on a 4’6” softboard at Waco, he has built a career that fuses all areas of board culture, environmental activism, and having fun.
As a Reef ambassador, Conklin is heading to the UK for the Spring Classic Surf Invitational to be held in Combesgate, North Devon over the last weekend of May. Wavelength caught up to see what the quintessential Californian kid expects from his trip to North Devon, and what we can expect from him.
WL: Have you been to the UK before, or surfed here?
BC: No, my trip over with Reef for the Spring Classic Surf Invitational will be my first time to the UK, so I’m pretty pumped.
WL: What have you heard, or what are you expecting?
BC: Well, I’ve heard the water’s pretty chilly, but you can still get fun waves in spring. Mainly, I’m just looking forward to seeing the culture and meeting some new people in the surf community out there. I think that’s my focus. I’m just excited to experience a new country.
WL: What quiver will you bring?
BC: I plan on bringing at least one skimboard in case I stumble upon something that looks skimmable. Also, if I get a day at The Wave in Bristol I’d love to skimboard there. I’ll also pack a couple of soft boards and something with a lot of volume to play around in if it’s small. I’ll be ready for whatever the Atlantic throws at me.
WL: We’ll be honest, we don’t have a huge skimboarding scene over here. What conditions or types of beaches do you look for?
BC: Mainly, we look for waves that are breaking close to the sand. Your classic shorey. Most of the places in the world that are good for skimboarding have an interesting ocean topography; usually deep water right off the coastline that gets shallow really quickly near shore. The Wedge near home is a classic example. I’m hoping the Brits will have a few high tide spots they are willing to share with me.
WL: You’ll also be surfing in the Spring Classic Surf Invitational. That’s obviously about having fun, and riding different boards, but how competitive are you? I mean you’ve won three Skimboard World Titles, so there must be a competitive animal in there somewhere?
BC: Ha, these days I would say I am the opposite of competitive. I think the main reason I fell in love with the ocean from the beginning was that I loved experimenting with different boardsports. I was just always trying to improve in whatever the heck it was I set my mind on, be it surfing, bodyboarding, or skimboarding.
The best approach, for me anyways, is to just go out and have fun and do what I love. That’s what makes me happy and when I perform the best too. So, that will be my approach in the Spring Classic Surf Invitational. I’m going to mess around with new mates and have a good time. The paddle battles can wait.
WL: You did an environmental science degree at Berkeley; do you use much of that in your life now?
BC: I can’t say I am using my degree in my career that much as I’m too busy traveling and surfing. However, I have been doing some partnerships with Surfrider Foundation and helping those guys with education and awareness. I also keep up to date with the science as much as I can. I could probably do a better job, but I also try to think about my impact on the planet every day and how to minimise it.
WL: You seem to be pretty good at everything you put your hand to. There’s some good music playing at the Spring Classic, so how are your musical talents?
BC: That’s the one area where I let myself down. I do not have any musical talents and I’m a pretty horrible dancer as well. But, I love listening to music and everyone knows the UK music and festival scene is world-class. So, that’s another aspect of the trip I’m frothing on!
WL: This trip has been organised by Reef, who are a partner of the event. How long have you been riding for those guys?
BC: We’ve had a cool, long-term partnership. I signed up not long after I graduated college about five years ago. I like how they are a very environmentally conscious brand, and they back some great initiatives and partnerships. I’ve also been helping the Rob Machado Foundation which empowers young people to make sustainable choices. Another one is Waves for Water, which aims to correct the imbalances of water scarcity in developing communities around the world. So, it’s a good fit and I’m stoked Reef is getting behind the Spring Classic. It’s going to be a blast!
You can catch Blair showcasing his skills and paddling out at the Spring Classic Surf Invitational in just a few weeks’ time.
Tier 3 tickets have now sold out and we’re onto the final release of tickets, so grab yours now to get locked in for the best weekend of spring!