Santa Cruz PaddleFest 2014: The Basque Invasion

Interview and Photos by Bryon Dorr 

Basque Team results at the 2014 Santa Cruz PaddleFest:
Edu Etxeberria (2nd Open HP, 1st Open IC)
Ibon Agirrezabala (1st Open HP)
Odei Etxeberria(7th Open HP)
Oier Uruburu (13th Open HP)
Teresa Carranza (2nd Women’s HP)

Bryon Dorr: How did you personally get into surf kayaking?
Edu Etexeberria: I started in slalom, raft, freestyle, creek and sea kayaking during summer camps as a kid. I then found and enjoyed surf kayaking. I’m now 41 yrs old.

How do you get so many youth into the sport of kayak surfing?
I work for the public school system through a social club (www.rcnss.com). The club consists of 1,200 members of all ages. There are about 25 kayak surf club (http://ehkss.blogspot.com/) members currently, down from about 35 not that long ago. I was asked to keep the club small right now to keep the costs of the infrastructure down. The main way we encourage youth to get into surf kayaking is through basic courses in public schools. It is easier for youth to get started in a group environment. The group makes them feel good and provides support when the waves are scary. I work with 10, 11 and 12 year olds in the public school system. Currently eight-plus young people train every week, 4 times a week. Ibon and I are the trainers. 

What brought you and the team to the Santa Cruz Paddle Fest this year?
We have wanted to come for a long time, as it is a 28-year-old surf kayak competition. It is a must in a kayak surfer’s life. If you haven’t been here you haven’t been a kayak surfer.

Is your home break similar to Steamers Lane?
No, mostly beach breaks. Our home break is San Sebastian, which can be very crowded by surfers like Steamers Lane. We don’t train there in the summer due to the crowds and smaller waves. We do have a great left at Mundaka.

That was amazing sportsmanship when you and Ibon helped fellow competitor Matthew Hoff in HP semi-finals when his skirt imploded. What motivated you to go back in and get his gear once he was safe?
Just the right thing to do, we are all friends in kayak surfing.

Any final thoughts on the Santa Cruz Paddle Fest? Will you be coming back?
For sure, we like. The people are now our friends. We will keep that even more than the competition.

Going big at Santa Cruz PaddleFest   The Local Torch Bearer

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