Big-Wave Kickoff

First annual Pacific Paddle Surf Series starts in grand fashion

By Bryon Dorr

The newly minted Pacific Paddle Surf Series links together five paddle-surfing competitions on the West Coast in which paddlers earn series points in three disciplines: SUP, Waveski and Surf Kayak (HP and IC open classes). The points are weighted by the number of entrants in each category at each contest, and by the score of each competitor’s top three events.

The series kicked off this past weekend at Pacific City, Ore., with the second annual Pacific City Surf Off. Big, heavy waves and high offshore winds were what competitors battled for most of the weekend. Saturday was the big day in terms of waves and wind. I’ll be the first to tell you how crazy it is when you paddle at full speed in a 9-foot composite boat and can’t drop into a steep, 10-foot-plus wave face because the wind is blowing up the face so strongly! Sunday saw slightly smaller waves, building winds throughout the day and some big beach-break to contend with in order to get some high-scoring waves on the score sheet. Besides the amazing talent in the highly contested composite categories, the plastic class was a huge success with many new and seasoned whitewater paddlers tackling the tough ocean conditions.

The big upset for the weekend was 14-year-old Jeffery Steehler coming out of nowhere to win the IC open class, beating out seasoned competitor and HP winner Jim Grossman. Washington soul-surfer Jeff Daniel finished with a strong second in HP with strong maneuvers and quality wave selection. In the WaveSki class, Jason Li was just edged out by his father Jack Rovles for the win. David Brigg came in third and had one of the biggest rides of the comp in prelims on Saturday. Jeffery Steehler was also able to use his youthful energy to edge out a win over David Brigg in the Plastic category.

Huge shout-out to all people that made the Pacific City Surf Off happen: Alder Creek Canoe & Kayak, Keen, Canoe & Kayak, all the other sponsors, the surf judges and the organizer Chris Bensch. I know that many of the competitors will be back to Pacific City next year and are looking forward to the rest of the Pacific Paddle Surf Series. See you in the lineup!

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