SKINDOG ON THE RANCH

THE MID­DLE OF CAL­I­FOR­NIA IS ONE BIG FARM. THAT AND KELLY'S MAD WAVE POOL. BEN SKIN­NER HAS JUST BE­COME THE FIRST BRIT TO RIDE IT...

Carve - - CONTENTS - IN­TER­VIEW BY STEVE ENG­LAND PHO­TOS COUR­TESY WSL

The luck­i­est man in Bri­tish surf­ing scored a Wonka Golden Ticket to go play on the Ranch in the al­mond groves of Cal­i­for­nia.

As we go to press the Surf Ranch Pro is on. Just be­fore the CT crew took over the joint for the big show the WSL in­vited some of the world’s top long­board­ers for a test ses­sion. Ben Skin­ner was one of the golden ticket hold­ers who got the nod and so be­comes the first Bri­tish per­son to ride Kelly’s tub. Steve Eng­land racked up the phone bill call­ing Ben in Cal­i­for­nia as he waited for the Re­lik long­board event at Tres­tles to start.

So how was the Ranch?

It was in­sane. It is ac­tu­ally even bet­ter than it looks. Ob­vi­ously, it takes a few waves to work it out, and I didn't have too many, so I can only imag­ine how much bet­ter it is once you get it to­tally di­alled. The peo­ple there were amaz­ingly wel­com­ing and just made the ex­pe­ri­ence even bet­ter.

How did the in­vite come your way? Ba­si­cally, through the WSL, They wanted to start bring­ing long­board­ing to Kelly's wave, and I was one of four lucky men to get the call. Thank you WSL!

How many waves were you al­lowed to ride? I caught four rights and three lefts, and then poached a few waves through the ses­sion which was a fun part of be­ing there. If some­one fell in front of you, then you go!

What board did you ride? Did you have to shape one up for it?

Well, I wanted to make some­thing for the wave to try and fill its full po­ten­tial on the nose, off the tail and in the tube. So I made a board sim­i­lar to what I ride in hol­low waves, but with more of a nose for nose rid­ing. It felt great.

How does the wave com­pare to Wave­g­ar­den? Lin­ing it up, catch­ing it and power wise?

The power and speed are the first things you no­tice. You are def­i­nitely go­ing faster and the wave as a real punch to it. Catch­ing it is very sim­i­lar, in fact, a lit­tle bit eas­ier be­cause of the ex­tra power of the wave. They ba­si­cally tell you to line on pole 21 and wait. The wave comes to you.

What are the sec­tions like? I heard they can change one to make it more doable on a long­board.

The hard­est part about surf­ing the wave is read­ing the sec­tions. On a nor­mal wave you can see ahead of you what is go­ing to hap­pen, whereas, on Kelly's wave, you just have to know where to be be­cause it hap­pens right un­der you. But yeah, they have a lot of dif­fer­ent set­tings, that part was mind-blow­ing. So we got to choose be­tween two dif­fer­ent set­tings, ‘CT2' and ‘CT3'. One has the two bar­rel sec­tions, and one has more of a wall with the bar­rel at the end. Pretty in­sane!

Looks like a lit­tle step in the bar­rel sec­tion that could be tricky as the bot­tom drops out? Yeah for sure, that is what I was say­ing that it lit­er­ally hap­pens un­der­neath you. If you're not in the right spot, you miss the bar­rel, or you lose the whole wave.

How did Harley and the other long­board­ers find it?

Loved it. The boys smashed it. Harley and Tay­lor were stand­outs to me.

Did you see the air sec­tion in ef­fect? How was that?

Yeah, watched Pat G hit­ting it quite a lot, it looks good, but again, its all about tim­ing.

The power and speed are the first things you no­tice

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