Words by Bryon Dorr

Photos by Bryon Dorr (with assistance by Buck Johnson, Luke Borserio & Rick Starr)

Waves, waves are what it's all about! The paddle surf tribe gathered this past weekend for the 30th Annual Santa Cruz Paddlefest, and the waves showed up at the famous Steamer Lane once again. This premier kayak and SUP surfing event has a long and storied history, which you can get a first hand look into here: 30 Years of the Santa Cruz Paddlefest. The 30th installment was nothing short of epic for paddlers and spectators alike, with a classic kickoff BBQ at Adventure Sports Unlimited, a beautiful custom event logo by Drew Brophy, a vibrant vendor row, quality big waves, extremely impressive surfing in all types of paddle craft, a hotly contested ocean race and so much more.

(Related | Santa Cruz Paddlefest: When the Heat is On)

The surf was quite challenging for all competitors throughout the weekend. Small waves Friday made competitors get creative, and forced them to be weary of landing on "table rock" at low tide. Saturday and Sunday provided pumping overhead-plus-sized surf that moved around from middle peak to the slot, and back again, depending on the tides and swell. The big surf provided excitement on the wave faces, and up against the cliffs, when unlucky competitors got washed in that far. More than one swim happened this year, and while a few kayaks didn't fair so well, all competitors were unscathed, as the Santa Cruz Lifeguards were on top of it the whole time.

It was impressive to see both the HP men's and women's reigning champions repeat in 2016. Rusty Sage and Rachael Ward put on very impressive performances, especially in the finals, to keep their crowns. Another standout performance was Dan Crandall, one of the original innovators in surf kayaking, who took the IC class win with amazing big wave selection, critical deep take offs and impressive wave awareness. This year international competitors from Australia, Japan, England and Canada converged on the Lane to test their skills against the Americans, and enjoy the amazing waves this special place always seems to deliver. While the international contingent showed off impressive surfing, they managed just two podium spots at this year's event. One of the biggest benefits of the international presence in Santa Cruz each year is the sharing of new moves, skills and equipment, which makes paddle surfers around the globe progress at a faster rate.

Event organizer Mathew Hoff pulled off an amazing event for the second year in a row, one worthy of the milestone that was the 30th Annual Santa Cruz Paddlefest. The surfing event sold out in record time, the race hosted over 100 racers, the vendor area was jam packed all weekend, the Jay Moriarty Foundation received a $2,500 check and SO many people got to participate in, and witness, one of the best world class paddle surf events in history. Fingers crossed Steamer Lane provides the waves again next year, because you can be assured the 31st Annual Santa Cruz Paddlefest will be ready to host the best paddle surfers in the world once again.

(Full Results HERE)


Starboard SUP King of The Lane: 1-Mo Frietas, 2-Giorgio Gomez

Starboard SUP Queen of The Lane: 1-Fiona Wylde, 2-Kail'a Alexiou

Surf Results:

High Performance Men's: 1-Rusty Sage, 2-Dave Johnston, 3-Ben Doffe
High Performance Women's: 1-Rachel Ward, 2-Devon Barker, 3-Teresa Rogerson
Masters Open: 1-Sean Morley, 2-Jim Grossman, 3-Dave Johnston
International Open: 1-Dan Crandall, 2-Jack Barker, 3-Zach Boyd
Waveski Open: 1-Mike Wessels, 2-Ian Macleod, 3-Ed King
Whitewater Kayak Open: 1-Elliot Barlas, 2-Luke Borserio, 3-Toby Roessingh
SUP Men's: 1-Giorgio Gomez, 2-Brandon Rambo, 3-Mo Freitas
SUP Women's: 1-Annie Reickert, 2-Fiona Wylde, 3-Izzi Gomez

Kayak Intermediate Open: 1- Kyle Kilgour, 2-Kelly Henry, 3-Marcel Bieg

SUP Intermediate Open: 1-Tyler Bashor, 2-David Boulanger, 3-Reid Kitchen

Race Results:

SUP Female Elite 12'6 Long Course: 1-Fiona Wylde, 2-Shae Foudy, 3-Kali'a Alexiou

SUP Male Elite 14' Long Course: 1-Mo Freitas, 2-Giorgio Gomez, 3-Slater Trout

SUP Male 14' Long Course: 1-David Wells, 2-Bojan Bernard, 3-Pete Gauviin

SUP Female 12'6 Long Course: 1-Genna Flinkman

SUP Male 12'6 Long Course: 1-Eric Diggins, 2-John Walsh, 3-Rune Hoyer-Nielsen

SUP Juniors 12'6 Long Course: 1-Haakon Hoyer-Nielsen, 2-Tyler Bashor

SUP Female 14' Short Course: 1-Gina De Los Reyes

SUP Male 14' Short Course: 1-Bret Warner, 2-Peter Phelan, 3-Charlie Banfield

SUP Female 12'6 Short Course: 1-Sue Gatt, 2-Caroline Elliott, 3-Marissa Muller

SUP Male 12'6 Short Course: 1-Trevor Bashor, 2-Caio Vegner, 3-Michael Melville

SUP Juniors 12'6 Short Course: 1-Buey Grossman

Prone Male Stock Long Course: 1-Jack Bark, 2-Ben Brewer, 3-Foster Campbell

Prone Male 14' Long Course: 1-Josh Pederson

Prone Female Stock Short Course: 1-Abby Brown, 2-Sae Ackerstein

Prone Male Stock Short Course: 1-Brian Thomas

Prone Female 14' Short Course: 1-Dan Ackerstein

Prone Male 14' Short Course: 1-Phil Chowaniec

OC1 Female Long Course: 1-Linda Banfield, 2-Tracy Cone

OC1 Male Long Course: 1-Robi Rousset, 2-Charlie Banfield, 3-Matthew Sun

Surfski UL Long Course: 1-Carter Johnson, 2-Kenneth Howell, 3-Michael McNulty