Short questions and big answers from the key players in the surf world.
Blair Conklin is the poster boy for the ocean multi-rider —from skim to boog, to standup boog, softboard, and shortboard, no athlete has better infiltrated and cross-pollinated, the various surfing tribes. At the Spring Classic Surf Invitational, Conklin was the star attraction. Wherever he and his trademark blonde locks went, a small percentage of his 250K Insta fans gathered. In a new weekly series, Wavelength caught up with the Laguna Beach local and Reef Ambassador to ask some short questions that needed big answers.
WL: What is the most scared you’ve been in the ocean?
BC: I was surfing Nicaragua. I was surfing a solid building swell on this left point, and I pulled into a barrel but got the heaviest closeout of my life. The hold down was gnarly and then I hit my head on the reef. I was pretty close to getting knocked out, I saw stars and then got another one on the head. My leash broke, and I was the most exhausted and winded I’ve ever been. Eventually, I got rolled in and was safe, but it was a terrifying experience.
WL: Who is the funniest person you know?
BC: Kalani Robb is pretty out there. He’s rad to be around and always puts a smile on my face. He’s got a personality and sense of humour that will turn anyone’s day around.
WL: Who’s the tightest?
BC: That would be my team manager at Catch Surf, Beefs, or Chis Monroe. We travel on a budget with that guy and make it work, but every dollar is a prisoner.
WL: When were you happiest?
BC: Some of the happiest moments I’ve had recently have been in wave pools, which is something I’d never expected. A few years ago, I did a trip to the Waco Pool with Mason Ho and that was one of the coolest trips I’ve done. We had a rare wind that made it perfect for airs on the right, and we were testing new waves the engineers had come up with, on our own. I was riding my skimboard and I landed the biggest air I’ve ever done on a skimboard. I did a huge alley-pop 360 and landed super clean, and Mason was there, so it was an insane feeling. I was pretty happy at that moment. Big up to Reef for making that happen, it was easily the coolest team trip I’ve been on.
WL: What do you most dislike about your appearance?
BC: It’s my hair. It’s what makes me, but it can frustrate me. It can be so hard to manage. I do little maintenance, and it gets dreaded and so salty and fried to a crisp that sometimes bits of hair just fly into the air. It’s a fire hazard. However, it’s a big part of who I am and how people recognise me, so I guess I’m stuck with it for a while.
WL: What is your most treasured possession?
BC: It’s a petrified wooly mammoth tusk that was my grandfather’s, who has since passed away. He was a citizen scientist or amateur archeologist and he found it near his home in Washington in the Puget Sound. It’s in amazing condition. He was a big reason I went to school and did science education, so it means a lot.
WL: If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
BC: Well, coming straight from the last question I’d have to say a wooly mammoth. That would be pretty freakin’ cool to see in person. And especially as that was my grandfather’s passion; he was always looking for mammoth fossils.
WL: Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
BC: That would be my Youtube channel. When I first started it, I had a business partner and we ended up taking different paths in life. After 12 months I ended up buying his share of it. At that time that cost me half what the channel had made and I hadn’t anticipated the revenue. So it was pretty huge for me. (Blair launched his Skim Kids channel in 2018. His videos have amassed 330,508,191 views and he currently has 376K subscribers.)
WL: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
BC: Taco Tuesdays. I enjoy a margarita and in California, most taco places have a happy hour on a Tuesday. I’m a sucker for the half-price deals, so it’s always an excuse to get a little loose.
WL: When and why did you last cry?
BC: Usually after one of those Tuesdays. But seriously, it’s pretty standard, but it was when my childhood dog died. That was a bummer. Dogs are too good for us humans and this dog was an absolute love hound. Losing that little guy was hard, man.
WL: What keeps you awake at night?
BC: I tend to think a lot about what the next steps in my life are and what I can do to get the sport of skimboarding more popular and legitimised. At the moment there’s not a platform for people to make a career or living out of it. There’s a skimboard tour, but it doesn’t have the backing. I’ve lucked out with YouTube and social media, but others don’t have that.
WL: What would be your funeral song?
BC: Mister Big Stuff, by Jean Knight. It’s a happy, funky song and would send some good vibes.
WL: Tell us a joke…
BC: It’s not a joke, but a funny story. Recently we went to make some margaritas at our house. My girlfriend pulled the tequila out of the freezer and found it was frozen. Now, alcohol doesn’t freeze, and she joked that someone in the house was drinking on the sly and adding water. We all laughed, as the youngest person living there is us, way above the drinking age. Then my 87-year-old grandma piped up and confessed. She’d been told by the doctors to not drink, but she’d been having a few cheeky margaritas on the side and topping it back up.