Friday, May 20, 2016

OVER THE BOW: PADDELFEST SANTA CRUZ

PHOTO BY TOM GOMES
When asking Dan Crandall about 30th Annual Santa Cruz Paddlefest, this past March his eyes lit and  a big smiled came across his face. "I had a great time at Santa Cruz, when there was big water like that." said Crandall, "It was a beautiful wave." Santa Cruz Paddlefest is the largest and oldest continuously held surf kayak competition. Paddle surfers from around the world gather one weekend every year at Santa Cruz, California's famous Steamer Lane surf break.

Current Adventures Kayak School & Trips owner and founder, Dan Crandall is no stranger to Paddlefest and surfing the epic big waves with fellow US and International kayak, wave ski and SUP surfers. "It's been 28-years straight for me." said Crandall, "I have five or six times between that. The waves are world class stuff."

And just like the paddle surfer, the waves and waves and waves showed up providing a heart pumping overhead-plus-sized surf that moved around from middle peak to the slot, and back again, depending on the tides and swell. “We could not have asked for better conditions for our event,” told event organizer Mathew Hoff to KION-TV “It was amazing.”

“Number one, I’d rather be patient and take a Middle Peak wave than anything else,” said Crandall before his run to Canoe & Kayak Magazine writer Paul McHugh, “I’ll look for a medium-size wave, one with shoulder that will hold up, so I can run it down the line. Much as I love big drops, the biggest ones are folding over and dying off quicker today. Long run-outs, that’s what I want.”
Crandall, won the Open international Class final against a strong field of great kayak surfers, including the current World Champion Jack Barker from England, the former World Champion Darren Mastervibe Bason from Australia and local star Zack Boyd from Aptos, California. Here is how McHugh described Crandall's winning rides in Canoe & Kayak Magazine Online.

Crandall positioned himself outside of Middle Peak on surfer’s left, and when a big ‘un came along, he committed to a slashing right cut across beneath the pitching crest. It was a distinctive Crandall move, quite familiar from contests past, demanding equal parts of boldness and the fast hull speed of an old-school boat. However, it also was the exact opposite of his announced strategy. His big wave did hold up, though, and he was able to sashay back and forth with mild cutbacks in the pocket all the way to the judges’ stand. That bagged him a score of 22.

Crandall went for his second wave. It was a mirror of his first. Big, bold, and starting off with a cut across under the lip. He made his section, then let the pocket catch up to him, whereupon he performed his customary side-to-side wallowing until he passed the judges’ stand. Score: 23. His heat plan might’ve been in tatters, but maybe that was a good thing.  

Sea kayaker and photographer Tom Gomes was able to capture Crandall's run to glory offering us a taste of the event.  Check out Gomes on Facebook for more stunning kayaking and outdoor images.

Over the Bow is a feature from Outside Adventure to the Max, telling the story behind the image. If you have a great picture with a great story, submit it to us at nickayak@gmail.com