The sun shone bright, the waves loomed large, and paddlers in bright colored fiberglass kayaks tumbled and cut across the big ocean surf in Santa Cruz, California. March 22-24 marked the 27th annual Santa Cruz Paddlefest, the most renowned paddle surfing event in the world. This year included two site locations so everyone from the usual world’s best athletes down to amateurs could compete in kayaks, wave skis and stand up paddleboards.
“It’s a pretty amazing event,” says Devon Barker, one of the favorites to win the women’s international class. “I mean, you’re sharing the best surf spot with only three other people. What could be better?” Galen Licht later agreed, “I’ve surfed all around the world, and nothing compares to this spot and this event.”
For the first time ever, the Santa Cruz event was split into two contests: the Elite Steamer Lane and the Cowell's Classic. The two-day Cowell's contest gave beginner and intermediate paddlers a chance to compete in mellower waves, avoiding the hammering that Steamer Lane hands out to all but the most-skilled surfers. World-class athletes competed at Steamer’s, considered one of the world’s premier surf breaks. These athletes competed for two claims: to be the west coast kayak surf champion of the Pacific Paddle Surf Series and to represent the U.S. West in the Australian world championships in July of this year.
High Performance Men: Sean Morley
High Performance Women: Kate Duncan
International Men: Jim Grossman (ID)
International Women: Devon Barker (ID)
The Wave Ski Open: Tyler Lausten (HI)
The Kayak Intermediate Open: Cate Hawthorne (CA)
Overall champions of the Pacific Paddle Surf Series 2013.
Wave Ski : Tyler Lauston
Surf Kayak : Jim Grossman
SUP : Dave Boehne