EVENT: Pacific City Surf Off

Sept. 29-30, 2012

The second annual Pacific City Surf Off was the first event in the first annual Pacific Paddle Surf Series. It was my first time competing at one of my “home” breaks. Pacific City is a great spot because it can hold big swell, is sometimes wind protected, has a number of breaks, great on beach parking, camping across the street and a brewery overlooking the surf zone! Alder Creek, Keen, C&K Magazine and many other sponsors stepped up in a big way to make this event happen. Huge props to Chris Bensch from Alder Creek for organizing. The surf kayak tribe came together, from as far away as Cali and Montana, to compete in IC, HP, Plastic and Surfski classes.

(My Event Overview Report & More Pics at Canoe & Kayak Magazine Online)

Saturday morning the heats kicked off with big swell and building offshore winds. My priorities were squarely set on doing well in the HP (high performance) kayak class in my Vally Rush MKII. In order to fill out the field I also entered the IC (international class) kayak class, using borrowed boats for each heat. My first heat, and first time in a surf kayak in over a month, was in IC with a borrowed Mega Jester, thanks Jeffery. I quickly tried to figure out the unfamiliar boat in the big pounding surf. The offshore winds had picked up so much that even with a 9’+ boat paddling at full speed on a 8’+ wave face it was hard to make the drop!!! I managed 2nd, of 3, in my heat with a very low score. After that heat I decided to save my energies and skip my afternoon IC heat, as it was best 2 of 3 heats to move on to finals, with the 3rd prelim heat Sunday morning. I refocused on HP and battled the conditions hard, but only managed a 3rd, of 4, in my first heat. I knew I had to step it up to make finals, and start the points series off right, and worked some huge waves in my final heat of the day with a solid heat win. Saturday was all about dealing with the conditions, and especially trying not to get caught inside.

Jeffery, Dan & Shawn prepare for their next heat.

At least the seagulls enjoyed the high winds! I really thought this wave was going to be solid, until it closed out in both directions!

The surf judges were great and worked hard all weekend.

Me dropping into another WINDY wave!

Dinner & beers at Pelican Brewery with some serious score tabulation and Sunday heat seeding.

Amazing Saturday sunset captured by Jim Grossman on his iPhone. Thanks for sharing the image Jim!

Sunday had much smaller surf and a bit less wind. The waves did pack a punch though and there were lots of closeout sets. The first heat of the day was my final chance to do well in IC and get into the finals. I was unable to borrow any of the newer designed IC boats, as they were being used in my heat, so I ended up in an old Necky Groovy. Super fun boat, but doesn’t carve that hard and is less fast than it looks. I worked really hard and went for broke surfing the bigger outside set waves. It paid off and I got a commanding win in my heat, just sliding me into finals. In HP I also needed a top 2 finish in my heat to have any chance of moving on to finals. I managed a few big waves and hard turns to win another heat. It was now going to be a busy day of surfing with 2 finals!

I’m not super happy with my performance in finals. First up was HP and I was basically exhausted. I surfed hard, but kept getting caught inside and pushed into the “gas chamber”, which requires you to hike back down the beach to get back into the lineup. I even took my first ocean swim during my heat, but still pulled it together and got back out there for some more waves. In the end I managed a 3rd place, behind Jim and Jeff. Jim is a seasoned competitor and dominated HP all weekend with powerful moves and quality wave selection. The final heat of the day was IC finals. I again ended up in the Groovy and got some fun rides, but nothing that I could really be proud of. Jeffery and Jim battled hard for the top spot, with 14yr old Jeffery taking the overall win! I ended up in 4th in IC.

My first kayak swim in the ocean ever. Just plain got beat up in a big closeout set, went over the falls a few times, missed a few rolls and ran out of air. The way I figure it is that I got it out of the way and now I can stay in the boat the rest of the year;)

(Photo: Neil Shulman) I was working hard to keep all my gear as the sets landed on my head and the strong southbound rip was dragging me down the beach. Body surfing seemed to work best, but I wasn’t stoked to have my fined boat behind me in the big waves! Thanks for the great shot Neil!

Me gettin’ Groovy with it. Lots of smiles paddling this boat:)

Got caught inside and pushed down into the “gas chamber” many times. Only thing to do is get out and march back down the beach to find an opening. Head down and on a mission to catch another wave!

Organizer Chris Bensch hooking Jeffery Steehler, IC winner, up with a sweet Keen messenger bag.

Jim Grossman, HP winner, being congratulated by organizer Chris Bensch.

There was a big wedding on the beach just behind the brewery Saturday afternoon and this was their wedding car. Our contest scene was probably in the background of every photo:)

How cool is this hand-made wood surf kayak! Love the color as well:) Sad I didn’t get to see this thing in action.

Very cool MAN overland rig in the parking lot. Sadly they got away before I got a chance to say hi. Looked like a very well sorted and traveled rig though!

Pacific City Surf Off Results:

High Performance-HP

1. Jim Grossman
2. Jeff Daniel
3. Bryon Dorr
4. Chris Bensch
5. Dave Mottershead
6. Sean Watson
7. Jeffery Steehler
8. Dan Ward
International Class-IC
1. Jeffery Steehler
2. Jim Grossman
3. Allen Warnicke
4. Bryon Dorr
5. Sean Watson
6. Dan Ward
1. Jack Rovles
2. Jason Li
3.David Brigg
Plastic Open
1. Jeffery Steehler
2. David Brigg
3. Andrew Hansen
4. Sarah Jenkins
5. Chris Massey
6. Sarah Idriss

(My Event Overview Report & More Pics at Canoe & Kayak Magazine Online)

I’m headed up to the Hobuck Hodown, stop 2 on the Pacific Paddle Surf Series, in Washington today, for the 3rd straight year. Looking forward to another great weekend of surf kayaking and enjoying time with the surf paddling tribe. Wish me luck!

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