LAGUNA BEACH --- At 10 years old, Laguna Beach native Brandon Sears first competed in the Victoria Skimboards World Championship of Skimboarding with a Victoria “foamie” board.
He’s been a mainstay at “The Vic,” making it to the final heat of the professional division several times but never coming out with a win.
That changed Sunday, as Brandon C. Sears – also known simply as “BCS” – got his win, taking the professional division final at the 33rd annual event held over the weekend at Aliso Beach. And the win wasn’t even as controversial as college football’s BCS, either.
“I can’t believe it, I’ve been skimming for so long,” said Sears, now 25. “It’s taken me 15 years. I’m just super-happy.”
All four skimmers in the pro final, which took place with less-than-desirable wave conditions, ha d Laguna ties. Paolo Prietto took second, while 16-year-old Sam Stinnett of South Laguna equaled his best pro showing with a third-place finish.
Skim legend Bill “Beaker” Bryan, also of South Laguna, was unable to win The Vic for the 15th time. He took fourth in the 15-minute pro final, where riders’ top-five waves were counted and at least two frontside and two backside rides were needed.
The win couldn’t have been sweeter for Sears, who now resides in Dana Point but said he’s in Laguna “every day” practicing his craft. He was announced winner, as were champions for all age divisions, at a post-tournament party at Seven Degrees. The after-party also gave Bryan and brother George a chance to premiere their new skimming video, “Up in Stoke.”
“I just had a good feeling this whole weekend, you know?” said Sears, who received a $2,400 check. “It’s that much better to finally do it at The Vic final, after being so close. It feels good.”
How challenging is The Vic? Last year’s pro winner, Laguna native Brandon Rothe, didn’t make it out of his first heat. Brad Domke, who was leading this year’s United Skim Tour points standings after two events, finished eighth.
Bill Bryan didn’t feel too bad about his fourth-place finish, in what he called bad conditions with “one-inch” waves. He said the weekend was more about the spirit of community.
“It’s all about the pride and camaraderie,” said Bryan, 36. “We just went out there and put on a show, given that the waves were mediocre for the finals. Everything else has turned out good. The movie went off, the waves were good for Saturday … We actually had a really successful event waves-wise, but in the finals, the swell didn’t hold out for us. It wasn’t the best year in history, but it was definitely close to the smoothest.”
Victoria Skimboards general manager Trigg Garner was pleased, as well, although he said the smaller swells Sunday were more like East Coast conditions.
“Brandon definitely looked good all weekend,” Garner said.
In the women’s division, Laguna native Pamela Simpson took fourth, but that’s OK with her. She is excited about the future of women’s skimboarding with riders like division winner Anna Prophet, of Florida, and Hawaii’s Keiao Gucwa-Bucasas, who took second.
The division was without usual title-holder Shonna Cobb, another Laguna native. Simpson said Cobb, who now lives in Long Beach, couldn’t get out of work commitments and found out too late that The Vic had been pushed up from its usual late-July timeframe.
Simpson, 34, who runs the SkimChick.com Web site and is working on a film with the same name, said her future in The Vic is up in the air.
“This might be my last one,” she said. “I’m old. My bones hurt … [but] I love it.”
Sears was awarded best trick for a 360 backside maneuver, while Bryan earned best barrel and Prietto got the best wipeout.
Other winners by division were as follows:
8-years-old and under – Johnny Mitchell; 9-to-11 – Turner Tenney; 12-to-14 – Blair Conklin; 15-to-17 – Kyle Wiley; 18-to-21 – Austin Keen; 22-to-24 – David Sterman; 25-to-29 – Kelly Hawlish; 30-to-39 – Lance Brooks; 40-plus – Brad Dickey