Photo by Chris Bensch

Photo by Chris Bensch

Chris Bensch and I drove to California on November 8th at four in the morning for the “2012 Davenport Surf Classic”. Now for those of you that don’t know Davenport Surf Classic is a Surf Kayak Competition, one of five in the Pacific Surf Paddle Series. This is one of the bigger ones. The biggest one in the Pacific Northwest is the Santa Cruz Paddle Festival being held on March 22nd-24th next year.

Chris and I arrived in Santa Cruz, California later that day (twelve hours later to be exact) and looked at the surf for Steamer Lane. We both wanted to get in the water but did not want to be shoved in a Surf Kayak after being shoved in a car for twelve hours. We both decided to get up early in the next morning to go because you can’t go to California and not surf at The Lane. After that we went to our hostel , The Pigeon Point Lighthouse, which was not what you expect from a hostel but much better and would be are temporary home for the next 4 days. We unloaded the boats and our supplies from the car and went to bed for the busy weekend was just ahead.

We got up at about five thirty or six to go to the Lane for a surf session (the surfers don’t like us kayakers). Luckily we didn’t have any problems and we had some great rides, The Lane is always a good time. After our fun surf session we planned to go to Davenport to get some practice in before the competition the next day. When we got there we met up with Bryon Dorr. Bryon travels all over with Exploring Elements living out of his Sportsmobile van. We caught up with him and looked at the surf that Dan Ward caught earlier that morning. It was all over the place as well a carnage fest. And again we decided that the bed seemed so much better. What was sup- posed to be a quick nap turned into several hours, at least for me. A spaghetti dinner hit the spot after a busy day and was just what we needed before we hit the hay.

The next day we needed to get up early for a competitors meeting then we were off to compete. I had afternoon heats while Chris had the first heat of the day at six. It was a tough day of competition with the waves not being the best, it was difficult for some to choose the best waves but always fun surfing with the best ocean surf kayakers in the world (of course they didn’t have any problems). At
this time I was taking pictures of Chris in his heat and all the others before mine while trying to figure out my own strategy. When my HP heat was up, I got geared up and ready to go… didn’t go as planned. Everyone told me how weird the waves were to catch but you really don’t know till you get out there. I caught one wave in that heat and soon realized to make it to finals I would have to get out.

farm. The party was great and you can’t beat free and delicious food (even if I didn’t know what it was). After that we went to our hostel to edit photos and we got a lot of good ones but there were so many I fell asleep while editing.

Again we had to wake up at around five a.m. which I’ve done before, but hard after being as exhausted as I was. But we did it and were on are way to Davenport beach hoping the surf was going to better. We arrived to a surprise, there were no waves at that break! They decided to move the competition down the beach to a different break which had waves I was use to, but a small problem was some of the waves ran into

a reef. My first heat was at eleven, so I had time to figure out my game plan. My first heat was my HP heat and I felt much better about my surfing as so did a lot of the other competitors, but sadly that still only got me third. Next was my IC heat which am known for from Pacific City and Hobuck Hoedown . I did very well the previous month finishing first at Pacific City Surf Off and second at the Hobuck Hoedown, so I was pumped! However after getting out there to get ready for my heat to start I ended up getting a little pummeled and was no big deal as I rolled up. I then realized my skirt had came up on one sideband and with a leaky skirt in the first place I put it back on thinking it would be alright as I didn’t have enough time to empty it. Once my heat started I instantly felt a lot of water in my boat and my leaky skirt also started to fill

it even more. I fought it my entire heat! Not feeling as good in that heat as I hoped I still finished and I got third again. The day finally ends and the awards ceremony has come! With me being he only Junior I got a first place Junior Davenport Surf Classic Water bottle (trophies this year) and to my Surprise Geoff Jennings also greets me with a new pair of fins. I was definately excited about this! After awards, Chris and I said our goodbyes and headed for our twelve hour drive back to our real home.

by Jeffery Steehler

Jeffery Steehler was a member of the US West Surf Kayak Team who placed third in Worlds in 2011. He is currently in the running for a spot on the Oregon Rafting Team and is a straight “A” student who loves to play the saxophone and trombone. This story was originally published in the Oregon Whitewater Association’s January newsletter. Jeffery is getting ready to emark on his third trip to the Santa Cruz Paddlefest and is trying hard to make the US West Team for the second time to travel to Australia this summer for Worlds.