The 33rd annual Santa Cruz Paddlefest is in the history books. This year's event was another showcase of the world's top paddle-surfing talent displaying their skills at the famous waves of Steamer Lane.
There were fun contestable waves all weekend, but sadly they became quite small by Sunday. Luckily, sets of waves rolled through that had enough size for the best competitors to go big and battle it out for the top spots. Airs, tubes, floaters and even a few whitewater freestyle moves were on display this year.
The best thing about this year's Santa Cruz Paddlefest was seeing the next generation of paddlers stepping up and doing well against the seasoned athletes. The winner of the High Performance Open Men's class was the young high-flying ripper from Spain, Odei Etxeberria. His absolute mastery of surf kayaking was something to behold.
Besides all the amazing surfing at the Lane, there was also a vendor area with everything from paddling gear to free massages and Onewheel demos. On Saturday night, everyone rolled into the historic Rio Theater for the first-ever SUP Film Festival. The films on offer were top-notch!
The Santa Cruz Paddlefest is not only about the impressive surfing at the Lane, the intense 5- and 10-kilometer SUP races on Saturday morning, and the viewings at the film festival. In the end, it's more about gathering the paddle-surf tribe.
Paddle-surf enthusiasts from all walks of life, and from around the globe, gather in Santa Cruz each year to share stories, demonstrate skills, and enjoy the waves at Steamer Lane together. Sure, the competition might be intense at times. But, in the end, everyone is stoked to see fellow participants advancing their personal paddle-surfing skills while progressing the sport as a whole.
A huge thank you has to go out to all the sponsors who help make this event possible. This year AT Overland Equipment and Mega Performance Kayaks stepped up as presenting sponsors. Also, a big thanks to Mathew Hoff and Tiffany Hall for putting on the event. Without their hard work behind the scenes, this event wouldn't happen.
Top Surfing Results
High Performance Open: 1, Odei Etxeberria. 2, Xabier Olano Olarra. 3, Dave Johnston.
High Performance Women's: 1, Devon Barker-Hicks. 2, Laura Zulliger. 3, Julie Mitravich.
International Open: 1, Zach Boyd. 2, Jim Grossman. 3, Bryon Dorr.
Kayak Masters Open: 1, Jim Grossman. 2, Matt Radis. 3, Dave Johnston.
WaveSki Open: 1 Ian Macleod. 2, Jeff Hille. 3, Shelly Palmer.
SUP Open: 1, Poenaiki Raioha. 2, Zane Schwitzer. 3, Josh Riccio.
SUP Women's: 1, Fiona Wylde. 2, Lara Claydon. 3, Lucia Cosoleto
SUP Masters Open: 1, Derek Hama. 2, John Griffith. 3, Steve Drottar
Kayak Intermediate Men's: 1, Gwenn Bezard. 2, David Grigsby. 3, Nova Love
Kayak Intermediate Women's: 1, Debbie Hathaway. 2, Sophia Sotelo. 3, Kim Mclennan
Kayak Intermediate Junior's: 1, Buey Grossman. 2, Victor Bezard. 3, Leo Bezard
SUP Surfing Intermediate Men's: 1, Bob Rueter. 2, Jack Wygal. 3, John Walsh
SUP Surfing Intermediate Women's: 1, Kitsy Nipper. 2, Nikita Tournebise. 3, Miskaka Yamamoto
SUP Surfing Intermediate Junior's: 1, Maximilian Torres. 2, Thomas Nilsen. 3, Bodie Von Allmen
Read Dorr’s previous SCPF coverage with ‘New Era of a Classic: 2015 Santa Cruz Paddle Fest‘ plus more stories from past years at the Santa Cruz Paddlefest, as well as look back at the history of the storied event, and its colorful founder Dennis Judson.