Back from an adventure like to travel to Internation Kalemba Skim contest, we have a smile accompanied by a feelin of emptiness: an strange mix of full happiness, satisfaction and sadness.
It sound like a cliché, but is difficult to talk about the magic than you can breath during special days that only a chosen few can enjoy.
To thos who know not yet about it, Kalemba skim project is an organization created to get effective ways of steering children away from drugs, poverty and dangerous streets of Luanda through skimboarding. Using it to teach values, knowledge and receive an education and enhance their future prospects.
Every year they organize an International high level championship, trying to have some of best skimboarders arround the world from different countries to show what means porfessional skimboarding to the kids, to keep them motivated and for the goverment and sponsors can see the potencial and want to support.
One more time we flew to Luanda looking for the dreamed liners that everybody arround the world know. The Spanish Martí Avilès, Rafael Castillo and I stopped at Dubai, where we found Brasilian and American skimboarders going to the contesta: Sam, Blair, Renato, Lucas, Nadinho, Marcos, Julia, Joao and our girl, Vivian Grieco “Vuca”.
Really exitation and great hopes. All the people was waiting for us when we arrived to Kalemba, lots of international riders, partners and Kalemba kids. Time to meet our friends from other countries like our legend rider, Hugo Santos, in addition to other Portugueses, French, Southafricans, Moroccans, capeverdians…
After enjoy a funny night in Luanda, cause Sam Stinnett and Tchyina (first person responsible for the project) has to go to participate in a primetime tv show, we all woke up, mosquitos included, in the apartament than we all was sharing. Fisrt morning was dedicated to give water purification filters in the least-favoured areas thanks to one of brands than was sponsoring Blair Conklin. Meanwhile, I was in an important morning tv show with Carolina and Angela from Kalemba. One more exited experience.
In the afternoon of that day we arrived to the paradise in a bus full of super excited skimboarders, with police scort to avoid traffic jams. Luxury!
The excitement disappeared when we saw little waves contitions… But turn up when we could ride some surf and skurf wave in the pointbreak only 30 minutes walking on north. Longest wave ever for lot of us. Was awesome to see Hugo, Martí, Renato, Blair or Lucas skurfing with short and no fins boards… Seems easy, but it is not.
Before more is needed to say than all of us was treated specially well for each and every member of organization and is really important to note.
Nex day, after enjoying a memorable experience surfing among wild dolphins, the contest heats starts, despite no good conditions in the constest spot. Without big surprises, the best skimmers advances to the next rounds on next day. Rafa, Martí and Hugo advances like firsts.
After first rounds only eight riders left in PRO division: Lucas Fink, Blair Conklin, Martí Avilès and Mega on first semifinal and Hugo Santos, Sam Stinnett, Renato Lima and Rafael Castillo on second one. And 4 best girls: Vuca (after a really good semifianl with Mayne Taylor) against Julia in a 1vs1 final for the victory, and Pipa and Mayne agains 3rd position that finally was for the portuguese athlete.
The final round, was an awesome brasilian face to face, She was two of best skim girls arround the world, totally sure, and Julia was only 13 years old in that moment! Was an epic battle where Vuca gets two really good waves to win ahead of little Sununga local. COOL!
Was a great new for us, Dogflut, but was a shame too… Because our guys coul not advance by tenths of point:
First semifinal was a 15 minutes round with four top riders and on first seven minutes no good sets arriving to the shore. For that reason Sam looked for little but opening liners to did his skills and got some points to placed first. Meanwhile, Lucas and Martí tried some nasty newschool tricks and Mega expected for bigger waves. Lukas chosen killing it on little liners and Martí, with a good score, chosen to wait to big set, trusting himself as always. But unfornatelly, that set never arrived and he was 3rd by less than two tenths of point.
Second semifinal was all the opposite… It was a big show! From first minute really good sets on shore and the four competitor did an epic round. Blair, killing it during all contest gets two awesome skills. Rafa remained srtrong in a round with three of best ten skimboarders arround the world and scored more than 6,5 points in six of his nine waves… A madness! Was a sad that he have not any brilliant valued wave and only was couting two best waves. With the American in first, Hugo and Renato fought for the other place into the final. Brasilian guy chosen technical tricks meanwhile our Portugues legend got best in&out of all trip. Finally after recount Renato wins ahead Hugo for hundrendths of a point, not like in the quarter final when Hugo won the first position ahead Renato.
Final, as could have not been otherwise, was a great show. The youngest Brasilian prodigy failed to perform like the rest of the event and stayed a little behind, but the other three monsters smelled blood and went for it like sharks. Tricks and maneuvers that only a few can control… It is the reason that Blair, Sam and Renato are considered three of the five best skimboarders in the world, with absolute certainty. It was a party of unreal maneuvers and spectacular tricks. Nobody knew who had won when the horn that marked the end of a great championship.
Finally Sam was 1st, Renato was 2nd, Blair 3rd, Lucas 4th, Hugo 5th, Martí 6th, Rafa 7th and Mega 8th
Apart from the results, which in the end is what matters the least, it was a spectacular event, once again, with all the attendees getting involved. From Dogflut, as every year, we collaborate within our possibilities and this time we gave two new boards to the project, to Kalemba continues growing strong!
In addition, French guys Yan and Doud, like Southafricans and Blair donated their boards to the project. Everything is for helping to dream coming true and doesn’t stop to grow and improve. Kalemba skim project and liner from Cabo Ledo (according to Blair and Lukas, waves of last morning are the best liners that have ever skimmed), are a perfect mixture to continue to triumph.
Personally, I sincerely thank Tchi, Bruce and all the kids for award me “Joao Decidido thophy, to the person who has helped to pull the project Kalemba skim”, which was one of the most exciting moments of my life. And also to Rafa, Hugo and Martí for another epic trip shared, to Vuca for special moments and to take his Dogflut board to the top again and the whole team of judges, Pedro, Ray, Ze and Doud for listening, sharing my ideas and enjoy it together. The third time, despite not having time to skim a lot, was a big pleasure and an honor. I can’t wait for the fourth.
*PHOTOS: Sean Jahnig, Joao Luz, Sergio Gil ‘Shein’.