Blair Conklin Is Switched The Fuck On
Meet Laguna Beach’s UC Berkeley-educated environmental science and 4’6 foamy enthusiast.
It’s 11:30 PM in Central Texas. I’m standing on a balcony, overlooking a milky green wave, watching a man with a curly blonde head of hair and sunken eyes, toting a tiny board bag that looks like it belongs to a 9-year-old NSSA warrior.
He takes in his warm, and muggy surroundings.
“Hi, I’m Blair,” he says in a confused tone.
Before we can be properly acquainted, Puerto Rican elfi Hector Santamaria jolts upright from his reclining position on the floor with a spinning kick, the beautiful weirdo, and clasps Blair’s hand with two of his own.
“You’re like a sunflower, man,” Hector gushes. “You’re yellow! I can see.”
I offer Blair a beer. He accepts. “Oh, you’re Morgan.”
“Yeah, sorry for the late hit...”
Blair rides Catch Surf's Blair Conklin Model, 4'6"
Wearing Catch Surf's ENSIGN S/S STRIPED KNIT - NAVY/WHITE and PONTO PANT - WHITE.
Blair Conklin is fresh off a 50-plus-hour jaunt from Tonga. Stab had interrupted his visit to a friend's freedive/snorkel tour with humpback whales, with the news that the world champion skimmer had earned a crowdsourced spot into Stab High, our surf contest “held mostly in the air.” He cut the trip short; in fact, he was only in Tonga for 24 hours.
Mr. Conklin was but a blip on our radar in 2015. He’d released a clip riding a foamy in Mexico doing some very impressive leaps. We hadn’t seen anyone surf a sub-five-foot foamy like that, ever. So, we ran it.
A year or two later, the same man would slip into a hefty Wedge sider, a dead-ringer for two-time world champ John Florence’s finless twin, his back knee slightly cocked, his tube riding, effortless. We also ran it.
See, Blair isn’t your average pro surfer; actually, he’s not a pro surfer at all. He is, in fact, a three-time world skimboard champion, what he calls, “probably the jankiest tour of all time.”
Wearing Catch Surf's IVAN S/S POLO - HEATHER GREY/MAROON and PONTO PANT - WHITE.
While discussing the Skimboard World Tour, which has seven stops, three on the West Coast of the US, three on the east, one in Cabo San Lucas and the occasional international event in either Europe or Brazil, in San Francisco a few months following Stab High, I asked him the simple question, “What’s your occupation?”
He laughs, “I’d guess I’d call it more of a hobby than an occupation. But at the moment, I’ve been skimboarding and surfing a lot. Actually, recently I’ve been surfing more than I normally do.”
“So, are you a professional skimboarder—is that a thing?”
“Umm… yeah,” he pauses. “I’ve been skimboarding for 18/19 years, it’s what I started out doing and is by far my first love, surfing came second. I’ve been competing and traveling around for skimboarding on a more frequent basis than surfing.”
Wearing Catch Surf's RANDY L/S WOVEN - GOLDEN PALMS and THE PARTY PANT - GOLDEN PALMS.
Blair lives in a house on the bluff overlooking Tablerock and West Street beach with two close friends. The house is huge, slightly decrepit and is million dollar real estate. The interior has not been modified since the 60s. It has the vibe of a college crash pad (patterned wallpaper, shag rugs) and a view reserved for the rich and famous. A choice set up for any 23-year-old recent college grad. “Living in Laguna Beach, especially South Laguna, it’s much better for skimboarding than for surfing. It’s really all shore break. It’s an easy way to have a whole lot of fun, and you get more waves.”
To our knowledge, Mr Conklin is the best in his weird little surf niche. His Catch Surf Pro Model is four-foot-six-inches and the surfing he does on it is jaw dropping. He can tuberide with aplomb, grab-rail cutty, high rotate and shuv-it. And although his skimboard accolades are interesting, the work he does on his “surfboard” is what piqued our interest. On the topic of his Stab High Wildcard inclusion, he’s still a bit taken back.
“I did not expect to get into the event [Stab High], especially after hearing all the really talented surfers going for it. I figured there was no chance, but I think the skim community had a big role in getting me the spot. It’s a small community but it’s a very tight knit group of friends.”
Wearing Catch Surf's DESMOND HOODED FLEECE - HEATHER GREY and PONTO PANT - LIGHT KHAKI.
Blair rides the Catch Surf Blair Conklin model, 4'6'.
While those from South Orange County, particularly Laguna Beach, can get pigeonholed into a stoner/slacker persona, Blair is not. Yes, the gent enjoys a beer and occasional puff, but he’s incredibly switched on.
Last year, Blair graduated from UC Berkeley, the number one ranked public research school in the United States, typically reserved for those with a high school grade point average of straight A’s.
“I worked fairly hard in high school,” quips Blair on the subject. “I was lucky to get in, I didn’t have my sights set on Berkeley. I kind of surprised myself when I got it.”
“I studied environmental science,” he continues. “The way humans interact with the environment and the trails we leave behind is something that interests me. In the coming years, I’d like to get into sustainable agriculture, maybe take a bit of a farm route. Who knows? I’ll assess that when it comes. I’m going to ride out the skimboard and surfing thing as long as I can, because if I can do this for a bit, then why not?”
Wearing Catch Surf's IVAN L/S POLO - BLACK/WHITE and PONTO PANT - LIGHT KHAKI.