Santa Cruz PaddleFest - First-Timer

[ Cali Paddler was eager to learn and share about last weeks Santa Cruz PaddleFest. We are stoked to share with you all this report back from Gina De Los Reyes of Santa Barbara, who took her first trip up to this event and that part of our state. Check it out!

Be sure to read all of our previews and reports back from 2016 Santa Cruz PaddleFest here! ]

Santa Cruz PaddleFest

Hi there Gina! We are stoked to hear that you just got back from The Santa Cruz Paddlefest presented by Starboard. We were excited about this event since it encouraged the participation of multiple crafts, (and we are big fans of Santa Cruz area too)! Thanks for taking some time to let us know what your first time there was like.

What were some of the highlights of the event for you?
Besides seeing others wearing a Cali Paddler hats in NorCal, the highlight of the Santa Cruz paddle festival was watching all of the young amazing talented SUP athletes like Fiona Wylde, Izzi Gomez, Sean Poynter, and Mo Frietas shred the waves in the surf contest. Along with the pros, there were a lot of skilled Open paddlers out there handling the waves like champs. Really cool to see a lot of old timers out in the surf kayak division. Also great that they added the OC1 division to the 10k distance race so now i know for next year I can race both SUP and oc1 :)

Santa Cruz PaddleFest

What did you participate in while you were there? And did you do and how was the field?
Unfortunately because of a knee injury I was only able to participate in the 5k distance race that included a beach run. I'm used to racing a 10k so it felt weird doing a short course. There was a lot of tough competitors out there and I was fortunate enough  to take home the first place medal in the Open Women's 14 foot SUP division.

Can you tell us a little bit about the venues where the races and competitions were held? (i.e. all in one place, or several?)
The distance race started at Cowells beach, went around the pier to the harbor and back. The surfing portion of the festival was held down the way at Steamers lane.

Where are your home waters and how was the water/conditions different than where you are used to paddling? And how did that make it fun or challenging?
Santa Barbara is my home base.  Everybody warned me that water temperature in Santa Cruz will be a lot colder than SB so I came prepared with a vest. Yes, it was chilly, but not too bad.  The water was a little bumpy, but it wasn't anything I wasn't used to.

What new craft did you see up there if any?
This was my first time watching surf kayaks. I had know idea how awesome they could shred those waves!!

Santa Cruz PaddleFest

Can you describe the coolest experience of your trip?
Starboard put on such a great festival this year, it was 3 days of nonstop surf action. This was my first time visiting Santa Cruz so overall it was a pretty awesome experience.

Such a great little town with such a mellow vibe.  Sunday was the SUP finals and being able to watch the talent out there and the tricks they were busting on the waves was pretty awesome. The weather was cooperative and as soon as the final heat was over it started pouring rain. Talk about perfect timing!

Any last tips for those who may want to visit next year?
The water is a little chilly, so be prepared!

Thanks Cali Paddler, hope to see you all out there next year!

On behalf of the Cali Paddler Tribe, thank you so much Gina!

 [ Photo Credit and Sincere Gratitude to Jim Brewer. ]

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