By Bryon Dorr
Sometimes less can be more. In stark contrast to the big waves and high winds that started the Pacific Paddle Series only a week ago at the Pacific City Surf Off, this weekend’s Hobuck Hoedown in Neah Bay, Wash., offered up small, clean waves and amazing weather: 70s and sunny. The competition was fierce though, with every paddler nabbing waist-high peelers in each heat, allowing competitors across the paddling disciplines--surf kayak, waveski, and SUP-- to showcase their skills and creativity.
The Hoedown has been running in one form or another for at least six-plus years and is an amazing gathering of all types of ocean paddlers. A few things that really set the Hoedown apart from the other competitions in the series, however, are the scramble surf races, the energetic Canadian contingent, attendance by many top-level sea kayakers, and the fact that it is the only event judged by paddlers (versus hired surf judges). The scrambles are le mans-start events that require competitors to paddle through the surf, around a rock outcropping about three-quarters of a mile offshore, paddle back through the surf zone, and then finish in a sprint up the beach. There are both sea kayak and SUP scrambles at the Hoedown. The Canadian contingent grows each year and brings a ton of energy to the event and all competition classes. The Canucks also bring a large group of highly skilled sea kayakers, many are members of The Hurricane Riders, who, along with the highly skilled U.S. sea kayakers from the Pacific Northwest, really highlight the amazing capabilities of a sea kayak in the surf zone.
This year's Hoedown had a very well represented and highly competitive whitewater plastic boat class, plus an HP open class that was also quite large with 14 entries and some big names in the lineup. The HP and Sea Kayak women's classes were hotly contested and extremely fun. The event was best captured by the huge smiles on everyone's faces watching a whitewater raft surf some waves at the end of the competition. The competition was fierce all the way around, but in the end everyone just had a great weekend at the beach with good friends, old and new.
A huge thanks to Olympic Raft & Kayak, Ruby Creek Boathouse, Linda's Wood Fired Kitchen, the Makah tribe, Mega Surf Kayaks, Valley Surf Kayaks, Pacific Kayak Surfing Institute, plus many other sponsors and people who collectively made this event such a huge success. The Saturday night fish dinner was amazing, the raffle prizes plentiful and the awards medals appreciated. A special thanks to Ayu Othman for the event logo that is truly a work of art!
HP Open- Hamp All
HP Masters – Ken DeBondt
HP Women – Kate Hives
IC- Hamp All
IC Women- Jameson Riser
Wave Ski- David Brigg
SUP- Ken DeBondt
SUP Women- Kyle Jeffery
Sea Kayak- Ben Doffee
Sea Kayak Women- Kate Hives
WW Plastic- Forrest Wells
WW Plastic Women- Kate Hives
Sea Kayak Scramble- Bob Putnam
Sea Kayak Scramble Women- Ayu Othman
SUP Scramble- Forrest Wells
SUP Scramble Women- Kyla Jeffery
Ellen DeBondt Memorial Spirit of Surfing Award- Bryon Dorr
The next event in the point-based Pacific Paddle Surf Series is next weekend at the US Wave Ski Championships in Ventura, Calif. The series’ final two events are the Davenport Paddle Surf Classic in November and the series finale at the Santa Cruz Paddle Fest in March.