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...
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