cramikfest #6Sept. 26th, 2009
cramikfest 5 & 6 (teaser) by cramik
Excratible. That’s all I can say. Last year’s cramikfest was lookin icky, due to conditions at most of the local beaches not looking so hot, when a day before the event Dustin & Kelly (I think) found The Cove. Last year’s event then went from uh-oh to stoked, as good waves and great weather greeted all who showed. This year, in the midst of Indian Summer and good weather and waves at many of the local beaches leading up to the event, there raged a grand debate as to where this year’s cramikfest would be held. BUT, day after day leading up to cramikfest, Deebo and VacaDoug were updating us on how The Cove was super set up for the event. The decision was made on Thursday and the issue was laid to rest: The Cove.
But let’s back up just for a second. It was July 22nd when Ozzy prompted the eternal question, when is cramfest? A full month later, 3 Wheel Fenster (aka 3 Ball Buttnut) chose the date of Sept 26th, over another whole month away. It has always amazed me how contest are run in June, July, August, year after year with very fickle results. The best conditions are always in the Fall, specifically late Sept to mid Oct. I guess the summer dates are usually chosen because kids are out of school and it’s easier for them to travel. With most skimmers in the Bay Area over 20, summer break does not mean a whole lot. So, I can’t say that we’ve actually been “lucky” getting exceptional conditions on 3 of 6 cramikfests (with the other 3 being definitely decent). But, that being said, we were extremely lucky with the conditions this year.
There are 3 elements that can naturally work against you when planning an event like a skim contest. 1. Conditions, 2.Location, 3. Date. As with any non waiting period event (meaning a specific date and time, rather than a week or a month or long in which to run the contest when the conditions look like they’ll be right), you can definitely get skunked. But 2 things the cramikfest has going for it, is that the location “floats” and the time of year is right. Though the date is chosen in advance, we have flexibility with location (so if a big swell hits on the pre-selected day, you can go to a place like Lefts (see cramikfest 3). Lefts is a place you would never plan a dated event for, it’s totally fickle and only breaks a handful of times a year). Additionally, because we don’t break down the event by age group or divisions of any sort, our skim “window” can be much more defined and we can wait for the right time to run heats – we don’t have to start at 9:AM.
Enough of the background. With the forecast for Saturday getting closer, it was looking hard to believe. A swell was coming, the dub was dying, the heat was increasing. The forecast for Saturday in Bodega was 80 degrees, no fog, no dub. Needless to say, if you’ve lived in the area long enough, you simply don’t believe the weather forecasts. As Fenster and I arrived at around 8:AM at the cove, the fog was way offshore, the air was warm, and you could almost taste victory. After hiking down to the beach, you could also taste defeat. The hike sucks. Not so bad when you’re just walking down with a board and a wetsuit, but when you add a cooler, cameras, a jacket (just in case), a bullhorn, etc., it definitely blows. For those that did not attend last year’s festivities and/or had never been to the cove, it was even worse as the original directions from last year (remember, they had JUST found the place) were outdated and had parking areas designated more than twice as far as the shortcut (sorry!).
Getting to the bottom of the trail we see a tent right at the bottom and we’re thinking, ”that’s kind of stupid to camp right there” until we found out that it was Beer, Cadiz, Sealy, & Rene who drove up from LA/Santa Barbara and arrived at 2:30 in the morning after driving the last several miles at 20 MPH in split-pea thick fog, going to a place they’ve never been to before and then hiking down the steep, narrow trail tired as hell. If it were me, I probably would have pitched tent right in the middle of the street!
Hiking over the rocks we saw 4 or 5 guys already in the water, among them Kelly, _4255, and VD, already tearing up the glassy onshore conditions. A number of other people were milling about, such as Kevin and Deebo who had also camped down on the beach that night. I decided to snap a couple pics and then couldn’t hold out anymore and had to get in the water. Over the next hour the beach filled up with a steady stream of people. Suddenly The Cove started to look tiny. Luckily, the whole cove was breaking. As Deebo noted, The Cove often has just one side working, but today it was breaking of both ends with peeling wrap coming in for both sides. There were essentially 2 sand peaks on the beach, and by natural order, most of the reggy footers went to the right peak and the goofys to the left with a pretty even spread. There were probably 20 guys on each peak, with sick waves being had at the same time on both. Simultaneous board claps from both sides were often heard and collisions were nearly missed (and sometimes not) when skimmers from each peak went frontside into each other.
About this time a dilemma started to develop. A long standing mainstay to the cramik is the MegaHeat in which all skimmers ride at one time in one big free-for-all. But, there were simply too many skimmers to hold in one megaheat. Many ideas were discussed, such as having 2 megaheats, or having 2 sets of judges (one on each peak). The decision was haunting me, plus the skim was good and so I tried to put off the decision for as long as we could. Finally, we struck a balance that I think worked pretty well. Colon walked the beach and told everyone whether they were an odd or an even. We decided to run an hour-long megaheat alternating every 10 minutes with odds and evens. This enabled us to cut the field in half, get the riders a break, and also give us a good cheering section. We set no boundaries this event, so everyone was able to skim the entire cove during the heat, but they were warned (Kevlar) that skimming way down the beach was detrimental to their survival out of the megaheat.
With the heats under way, led off by a nice solo backside wrap by Johno, the action was fast-paced and crazy as always. The waves were fantastic, with 1 to 4 foot waves on average with set waves that were maybe head high. Colin was great at getting names of those we didn’t know who were tearing it up, like Rene, Seabass, and dude with black shorts. Ozzy was great at holding the megaphone while I babbled, and Craig was expertly chiming in on the mini-mega (yes we had dual megaphones!).
After an hour-long + megaheat, we narrowed it down to 12 riders who would ride the semi-final megaheat:
Taylor (missed most of heat #3 and almost got nicked by the judges for it. But he’d already skimmed well enough to get in and since he did finally show for the end of heat #3 he eased in)
Deebo (penciled in)
Paul (Old Dark Horse was back to his old self and tearing and taking family breaks in between heats)
Rene (got a lot of good rides. Unknown to the judges, he quickly became known)
Seabass (local boy out of Sebastapol impressed the judges a number of times)
Vacadoug (was upset that his idol, Kelly, did not make the semis and wanted Kelly to take his place. Kelly was tearing all day, not sure how the judges missed him in the megaheat)
Daver (brought the grill)
Jackie (showed up with like 4 minutes left in the megaheat after driving 4 and a half hours from SC. First waves gets a nice backside wrap and made the semi’s)
Square (brought the trophies in 57’s absence)
Andres “Selva Skim” (Kevin (Selva’s buddy), who took a beating all day and badly twisted his knee, could be heard cursing from miles away on often an occasion (and earned the nickname from Rhino “New Swears All The Time Dude), supplied ice cold Tecate to help Selva make the semis – but Selva was ripping and the gratuities were unnecessary)
Glen “You’ll Love it at” Levitz (charged the set waves and got some nice ones)
Chris “Bodega Bay Surf Shack” _4255 (has a baffling screen name, brought prizes from the shack – oh, and skimmed really good).
We took a break for lunch so people could rest before the semi’s. But did they? Noooo. The skim fired through the high low tide, the air temp stayed above 80 degrees, and the dub was non-existent. This is when we would usually host the long drive competition. But, when I had reached Fenster’s house at 6:39 AM I remembered that I had forgot the balls and my driver. Craig’s a lefty so we were hoping for someone else like Josh or Lonnie to come through with a righty, but we only had like 15 balls to mosh. In any event, it was fortuitous because there really was no time for it. The waves were just too good. Plus, Lonnie got stuck working at the shack all day and showed up around 5 to host the long drive. I was too burnt by that time and I don’t know what happened.
Time for the semi’s rolled in and commenced in more reckless fashion as 12 skimmers charged everything there was to offer. Waves were still pumping and rides were had all over the place. Breaking it down to the final four was a chore. I’m not sure how long the semi was, but it was probably around 30 minutes or so. It was fun to watch and everyone kept wanting it extended past the original non-designated time that the heat was going to run.
The finals must have felt like freedom to the remaining 4 riders as they were free to charge, without 11 or more other skimmers threatening to go on every wave. Things loosened up and the riders were able to take better angles for the rides and we saw some really good action. Square was dead-set on being the most drunk finalist, and I think he may have succeeded. But, if you didn’t know him, you would have thought he was stone-sober as he attacked the biggest set waves of the day and was also throwing some good tech trickery that the judges frowned on and landed him in 4th (jk). Taylor, also steadfast after Square’s goal of being under the influence, managed to take out the defending cramik world champ and got a solidly deserved 3rd place. ODH was conserving energy and probably went for half the waves that the rest of the guys did. But, it paid off. ODH was, in my estimation, able to get 2 of the best 4 rides of the heat, which is saying a lot. His backside rail grab barrels on the set waves were sick and he earned 2nd place.
Which leads us to 1st place. This guy is largely responsible for the massive crowd at the fest. Most of the people at cramikfest were north-bay loc’s (north of Santa Cruz) – which, considering the size of the turnout, is quite remarkable. Not only did he find the cove and salvage cramikfest 5, but he regularly updates people on the what, where, and when’s of the Bodega skim scene. Having really been the person to discover the sider at Wrights, he used to often have to skim the great Bodega waves solo. No longer is this the case as he has really nurtured and cultivated a healthy skim scene in the area. So, on his home turf, he was free & comfortable to put on a show – and he did. Quite frankly, and this is no disrespect to the others in the final, Deebo simply ran away with the title this year. I think it was fairly evident halfway through the final as he was tearing frontside and backside lines to perfection. He approached one wave while the whole beach watched, he was really just a blur as he was going so fast and floated the lip for like 15 yards to a sick stomped air drop that had people on their feet (well, they were already on their feet, just standing taller and hollering). Even Thomas may have had trouble keeping up with Deebo on this day (haha).
So that’s how it ended. Deebo got the huge Budweiser (not an official sponsor) trophy that he hadn’t held since 2004. Thanks so much for the prizes provided by:
Daly Wear – donated some sick hand air-brushed t’s and came through with some cramik skimfest stickers.
Square – sweet plywood trophies
DAK – Dickson couldn’t make the event, but he made it special by giving his entire complete collection of Skimboard Magazine from the 80’s. I still have mine, there’s no way I’m giving them up, but it was cool for them to be passed down to another generation. Why haven’t these been scanned and put online (Tex?). These are great part of skim history. He also donated an issue of his own magazine from the early 90’s called Chili Skim that had Heins on the cover. Heins was supposed to sign it on the spot, but since he was a no-show the Ebay value of the issue instantly plummeted. Still – another valuable piece of skim history. He also blessed 4th place with a Dungeons & Dragons rule book (well worn, I might add). Lastly, he stoked 2nd and 3rd places with some old Victoria newsletters.
Bodega Bay Surf Shack – where you can experience surf on the Sonoma coast. 4255 kicked down with some nice gear and even a 3rd place loser gift certificate in true cramik style.
I would like to thank everyone for showing up, having a great attitude, skimming great, and packing your trash. I want to thank Craig Kay, aka 3 Wheel Fenster, for all his help but ESPECIALLY for selecting a perfect day! Also, thanks to the judges: Colin, Matt, Craig, and Ozzy for doing an incredibly difficult job and taking it as seriously as was humanly possible at a cramfest. Thanks to the old-schoolers for showing like Matt, Ozzy, Baco, Bike Mike, Rhino, Sil, Dano, etc.. Thanks to the photographers like Maddison, Baco, Molly, Mad Dog, VacaDoug, + many more. Already looking forward to next year (but please don’t ask me when and where it will be (Baker)).