Santa Cruz PaddleFest - SUP Vet Perspective - Santa Cruz or bust!

[ Cali Paddler was eager to learn and share about last weeks Santa Cruz Paddle Fest. Our Team Paddler Kristin Thomas is no stranger to epic roadtrips and events in this awesome state, and she was kind enough to share all the amazingness she encountered here! Enjoy...

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

Santa Cruz PaddleFest

Santa Cruz or bust!

There’s nothing like a great destination weekend paddle event, and the Santa Cruz PaddleFest did NOT disappoint

We have been so lucky in the SUP community to be invited to participate in existing events by other paddle & water sports.  The 3 day Santa Cruz Paddlefest – originally a kayak surfing only event – celebrated it’s 30th year.  SUP is of course a later addition. but along with the original ‘main event’ of Surfing at Steamer Lane, an Intermediate Surf contest at at Cowells/Indicators (the breaks farther down the cliff) as well as a Race on the second day. New this year was the addition of OC-1s to the Race portion! New event Director, @Matt Hof did an incredible job with the numerous contests in multiple locations along the cliffs.

It’s the little things
Super happy that my friend Mel got off the wait list at the last minute and was able to join me driving up to Santa Cruz. Road trips are better with a buddy!  Quick stops to say hi to my son at Cal Poly, and a fantastic stretch out paddle tour on the Estuary at Morro Bay were highlights of Day 1.  Mary Robinson from Morro Bay Stand Up Paddleboarding was a great paddle hostess pointing out Morro rock, seals, otter, sand dollars and even a Sea Hare!

Santa Cruz PaddleFest Morro Bay Stop

3 nights – 3 venues
Most of the local races are half-day events; While it’s a great to see friends even if for a short time, weekend/destination events give us the change to actually have real conversations, and meet new people. Not only does this weekend have daily opportunities to participate or spectate, but with registration at Adventure Sports Unlimited when you roll into town Thursday, Heat Sheets posted at Olitas on the Pier  Friday evening and the Awards at Pono Grill the third night there were even more chances to mix it up with all kinds of great folks.

Surf brings folks to town!  
Sold out well in advance Both the top level Kayak & SUP surfers & the intermediate/beginning contestants are guaranteed 2 days of surfing at one of the most iconic surf spots in California.  So cool to see many different watercrafts on the big waves; Surfers from Tahiti, Hawaii, England, Florida & of course Cali Paddlers from all over the state!!

Santa Cruz Paddlefest - SUP Sights and Sounds from Werner Paddles on Vimeo.

Duke loves Duathlons
While I must admit the addition of running isn’t my favorite part of the race, it is truly a unique format to have a run on the sand in the middle of the race & at the end.  It was a perfect race morning with overcast skies and mellow surf and wind. Gorgeous views were enjoyed throughout the race as we paddled two loops around the pier & south, even skirting the edge of the Main Surf venue on the second lap.  Great to still have SC local @Duke Brower and MC @Chris Hollingsworth involved in the race portion of the event.  Especially proud of overall women’s winner Werner’s Fiona Wylde who won a the race and second in the Surf Contest, and Infinity’s Giorgio Gomez who won the Surf Contest & 2nd in the race.

Santa Cruz PaddleFest

Teams & Peeps
As always, the people of paddling are the highlight. Besides our open and friendly paddling community, I’m lucky to be a part many sub-communities. Huge shout out to @Werner Paddles for stepping up big as major sponsor of this event. As builders of American made race and surf paddles for kayak & SUP, this was a perfect event to showcase their product.  Great to see their awesome Western rep Danielle Deforest & videographer John Grace.  Had a blast in the slightly over-crowded, shared house with many of my Infinity teammates both pros & regular folks.  And always fantastic to see the Northern California local races like Jen Fuller, Michael Melville, the whole Alexiou family & many more. Great surprise to run into long time (in SUP years) friend Nikki Gregg.

Santa Cruz PaddleFest

Got to meet great new folks too, like OC-1 legend and fellow Ocean of Hope fundraiser Charlie Banfield, and Teresa ‘Tree” Roberson and some of the other charging Kayak gals.

More NOR CAL Events
See you in Tahoe … or sooner!
Already have a campsite reserved for Race the Lake of the Sky in June, but here are a few great other ones...

Until the next wonderful water weekend,
SUP mama KT
Kristin Thomas

[ Photo Credits: Departure Photography, Mark Boyd, John Grace and all other contributors. Thank you! ]

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  • Mel Wygal - March 29, 2016

    Awesome road trip and super fun weekend with the Infinity and Werner crews! The paddling community is amazing, so much camaraderie in the water!

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