Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival (much delayed post)

In late March, myself, little bro Kye, and girlfriend Emilee went on a month long roadtrip that started on Haida Gwaii BC. We left with one destination in mind: the 24th Annual Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival. After some stops on our way down thru BC, including some tasty whitewater in good ol’ Terrace BC, and a few days snowboarding at Sun Peaks Resorts in Kamloops, we crossed the border and began making our way down the Coast.

(surfing at home in BC)

As training for the trip, we spent the few months previous living at home on Haida Gwaii BC, enjoying big waves but super cold water. Our first notable surf stop on the trip was a place called Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast. This was our first chance to get some surfing in since leaving Haida Gwaii and I think it is important to mention that this was the first time we had squeezed into our surf boats since at home during a blizzard in full swing and half a foot of snow on the beach. Needless to say, it felt great to suit up and head out! After a few nice rides, I managed to take the full impact of a solid 10 footer right onto my deck, which promptly imploded, leaving me quite a ways out, all alone and with a long uncomfortable swim to the beach. Day #1. Welcome to Oregon.

Unfortunately, we were on a bit of a tight schedule so had to blast the rest of the Oregon Coast,and then a bunch of the California Coast, in order to arrive in time for the competition in Santa Cruz.I will definitely be going back to spend some time on that coastline…. Unbelievably beautiful, and full of beaches with fantastic surf potential.

I had planned to pick up a new boat in San Francisco, had arranged it with the company (who will remain nameless) more than a month in advance, but upon arrival learned that my boat was in fact in Salt Lake City (approx. 16 hrs out of the way). After much cursing, we located a guy in San Fran who was willing to lend us a boat, which was of huge help. The boat turned out to be a bit of a tub and we didn’t end up using it, but huge props to Les from San Fran, all the same!

We arrived in Santa Cruz on the night of the 24th, and the competition was to start on the 26th. The next day was spent in a huge scramble of trying to gather/borrow/buy gear to use while competing. Again, the kayak company of the boat I was to pick up will remain nameless….. The night before the comp, a BBQ was put on and much fun was had by all. The next morning we woke up to this...

(Note the kayaker in bottom left hand corner of above photo)

The Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival is held every year in (duh) Santa Cruz California, and is the largest annual kayak surf competition in the World. I was competing in the Plastic Pro Challenge, and Kye was competing in the Intermediate High Performance Class. My division consisted of 3 heats, one per day with the Finals held on day 3 (Sunday), and Kye’s division had 2 heats, one on Saturday and the Finals on Sunday.

(myself surfing in 1st heat, day one)

My first heat went well despite it being my first competition, being in an unfamiliar boat, and competing against some very good kayakers. At the end of the day, I was surprised to find myself sitting in 1st place.

Day 2, after some confusion with heat times I managed to miss my 2nd heat all together. I was choked, but did well enough on day one that I still qualified for the finals on Sunday, despite surfing only one of my two heats. Kye on the other hand was ripp rarin’ to go and surfed well, coming in 1st in his heat, and 2nd in his division.

(kye going strong)

Finals on day 3 went very well for both myself and Kye. I had a bad start to mine, and got rag-dolled by three boomers right off the bat, but managed to shake them off, get a few nice ones and ended up with a silver medal. Current world junior freestyle champ Jason Craig took gold, and Jackson paddler Ruth Gordon got the bronze. Kye killed in his Final Heat, and got came away with the Gold Medal, beating out guys more than twice his age. Mad props to the little fella!

(myself about to get hammered in the finals)

After Santa Cruz, Kye flew home and myself and Emilee decided to drive down into Mexico to find some surf. Ended up breaking down in a small dusty town and spend a full week twiddling our thumbs and dreaming of surf. When we finally got going again, we opted to bail, and drove back to the states, were we ended up in Salt Lake City for some snowboarding before cruising back to Canada. Until next time…….