Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Swine flu fear doesn't deter world skimboarding champ

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
When the sanctioning body of the world's international professional skimboard tour pulled the plug on the Cabo Clasico in Mexico scheduled for this weekend because of health concerns stemming from the swine flu, Bill Bryan stepped in to see that the competition goes on.

Bryan, the reigning skimboarding world champion and founder of the competition in Los Cabos, Mexico, took it upon himself to push forward not only because the contest is one of the premier skimboard events in the world, but also because of the significance it has for the local economy, according to a news release.

With the help of new sponsors, including several from Orange County, Bryan is trying to pull off a scaled-down competition starting today and ending on Sunday, hoping to attract about 50 competitors instead of the usual more than 100.

The contest has been dubbed, "Cabo '09 Sooo Sick."

"There are children and families in need all over the world. It would be a shame and selfish on our part to miss an opportunity to help others by canceling this contest for our own self-preservation," said Bryan, in a statement. "Besides, Cabo has some of the best waves in the world and there is no way we are missing out. On top of that, this competition is the gateway to expanding the sport of skimboarding."

He could not immediately be reached for comment because he was en route to Mexico.

But a press release for the event in Los Cabos said that competitors and guests will bring gear and prizes to hand out to the locals, as well as raise money through t-shirt sales to be donated to Amigos de los Ninos (www.adlncabo.com), a medical non-profit organization in Cabo that helps support needy families in the area.

"As always, along with the hardcore pros and amateur riders who make the trek, the locals in Cabo are among the best skimmers of the huge, dangerous and exciting shorebreak of the area, so the level of riding will remain top-notch," according to the news release.

The Cabo Clasico is one of eight stops on the United Skim Tour, the sanctioning body for skimboarding events in United States and abroad, and usually kicks of the season that ends with a champion being crowned in November.

The UST and its board of directors last week decided to cancel the event, removing it from the tour for 2009. Because of the economic downturn, the body also will score only six events in determining a champion this year, said Trigg Garner, a UST board member and general manager of Victoria Skimboards in Laguna Beach.

"I would have gone down there and other team members would have gone down there," Garner said. "We didn't find that it was big concern for us as individuals. … (But) as an organization, we didn't want to have to say it's mandatory you go down and ultimately didn't want to put people in a health risk."

In its announcement cancelling the Cabo event, the UST said: "The Center for Disease Control has recommended that people avoid all non-essential travel to Mexico at this time. While this was a difficult decision, the health and safety of the UST participants and skimboarders in general are our first priority."

But Garner said he salutes Bryan's effort to host an event in Los Cabos anyway, since Bryan founded the contest in Mexico.

"I think it's great and if people wanted to go down there I think that's great," Garner said. "We're still gonna be back on schedule for next year. It's a great way to start off the UST season."

Bryan is also expected to compete at the 33rd annual Victoria Skimboards World Championship of Skimboarding on June 27 and 28 at Aliso Beach in Laguna (www.wcs.victoriaskimboards.com), now considered a skimboarding mecca.

Read UST's Cabo Clasico cancellation announcement at www.unitedskimtour.org

Check out the video from last year's Cabo event, visit www.unitedskimtour.org/video/2008/cabo/index.html

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