Catching up with LBHS alumni Blair Conklin


Bob Booth

Conklin lays back on his home turf Aliso Beach. This break is home to the Vic, the most prestigious skimboarding contest in the world, where Conklin took three consecutive victories from 2016 to 2018.

Tess Booth, Reporter

Many of us know Blair Conklin as the small-town “grom” that worked his way up to becoming a world-class athlete and professional skimboarder; however, it may come to us as a surprise that Conklin put his professional career on pause when he moved to San Francisco to pursue an Environmental Studies degree at one of the most distinguished colleges in the nation, the University of California, Berkeley. As the United Skim Tour Champion of 2018 and Berkeley graduate, Conklin continues to give back to his community and environment by sharing his passion of skim-boarding and using his social media platform to promote sustainability. 


How old were you when you first fell in love with skimboarding?

“I first fell in love with skimboarding at about five or six years old. I was lucky enough to grow up in South Laguna, where I spent as much time as my parents would allow me at the beach. In doing so, I became fascinated by the Pro skimboarders that I just happened to watch. From that point on, I knew I wanted to try, and not long after, I was gliding down the slopes of the beach and into the shore break on the cheapest skimboard my parents could find.”


 Where is your favorite wave to skimboard?

“My favorite wave to skimboard is located in Ubatuba, Brazil. The wave here is much like The Wedge in Newport, but it breaks in the opposite direction. Not only is the wave incredible, but the forest that surrounds and the topography of the landscape is like nowhere else on the planet. Massive boulders protrude out of the ocean and are topped by one of the most diverse forests in the world, the Atlantic Rainforest.”


San Francisco is not the ideal place to skimboard compared to Laguna Beach. When you were accepted to UC Berkeley, was it a difficult decision to move up North knowing that you would be momentarily putting your skimboarding career on pause? 

“It wasn’t that difficult of a decision because it was by far the best school that I was accepted to. I didn’t get into a lot of the schools that I wanted to attend, and applying to Berkeley felt like shooting for the stars at that point. When I learned that I was accepted and considered my second-best options, it was a no brainer for me to go.”


How important is a college education to you personally?

“The importance of a university education is much greater than I had ever imagined. Going to UC Berkeley and befriending people with much different upbringings than myself was the most important part of my education. My friends there were so much different than myself and so much different than any of the friends I had at Laguna Beach High School. Learning about their backgrounds and their family’s history gave me such a different perspective on life and how fortunate I was to be raised in the area I was raised and by the family that I have.”  


With your degree in Environmental Studies, what are your next steps relating to your passion for the environment and your skimboarding career?

“I would like to encourage more sustainable products with the companies I represent and ride for. I think I am in a unique position where I can have an influence on the brands that sponsor me and what they decide to produce. I think that is also true for any individual who purchases goods on a day-to-day basis. I think that as an individual, we have the power to support food that is sustainably produced or brands that are striving to give back to the environment rather than take and take.”


What would be your advice to graduating seniors from high school?

“Leave Laguna. Get out of your comfort zone through travel or education. That is when you learn most.”