By Hamp All
The hard rain began at 4:45 Saturday morning, but it did little to dampen the spirits of the crew
at this year’s Hobuck Hoedown Paddle Surf Festival. By the time the sun was up and coffee
brewing, smiles and easy banter were quickly established as both old and new friends made
ready for the first day of competition on the stormy Pacific NW fall morning.
This year’s Hoedown was notable not only for the variety of conditions encountered in the two
day event, but also for the extremely high level of skill displayed across all classes. In
particular, the standout level of paddling skills displayed by competitors in the “Battle of the
Wave” and both women’s and men’s HP events impressed judges, spectators and competitors
alike and resulted in cheers audible not only up and down the beach but also clearly audible to
competitors on the water.
Despite the cold temps, stormy surf, occasional hard rain and even a bit of hail on Saturday, the
contest on the water quickly warmed up with spectacular surfing seen in the initial Mens High
Performance (HP) heats by Californians Zack Boyd, Mat Hoff, Oregonian David Brigg and local
surf paddler Hamp All.
Women’s HP and Men’s International Class (IC) set the same standard with strong surfing by
Jameson Riser (who as Head Judge managed to sneak off the judging stand for the occasion),
Ayu Othman, Kate Hives and Barb Gronseth and in IC with Hamp All, Zack Boyd, Mat Hoff and
Steve Heigle all setting the bar high for the rest of the weekend. Waveski and Master’s HP
events also saw strong performances by perennial competitors Ken Debondt, Chris Bensch and
The trend of amazing performances in the lineup continued in Sea Kayak with standout
performances by Kate Hives, Chris Bensch and Costain Leonard and in the SUP event where
Canadian friends Glen Pearson, Rick Hornbook and Anton Fruehwirth all established a standard
of shred that they were to display all weekend long.
The Whitewater (WW) event, this year judged to a new standard that rewarded maneuvers both
by the normal surfing standard on the “green” wave face and also, in recognition of their
performance potential, rewarded maneuvers in the breaking wave, saw incredibly dynamic and
entertaining surfing by David Brigg, Costain Leonard and Jeremy Beninger and every other
class competitor. The resurgence of this class generated optimism for the future of the sport
and for the potential to have a growing presence in the surf by the community of WW boaters in
In the Skookum class, a class designed to encourage newcomers to the sport with reduced
entry fees, a less competitive approach and a focus on fun, the larger number of competitors
present this year allowed the event to be split into their own SUP and kayak heats. Both were
highly entertaining and provided many smiles to competitors Bradley Schaff, John Almquist,
Duncan Mack (Kayak) and John Sindelar, Kevin Long and Jen Bailey (SUP). Local traditional
board surfer Jen Bailey, in her first time ever on an SUP, generated cheers from the crowd for
her efforts with the big board and paddle.
By far though, the most entertaining event of Saturday was the “King of the Wave” preliminary
heat that saw the first ever entry of a double sea kayak in the contest, a boat paddled by Jamie
Sharp and Becky Rogers. The skilled Canadian team demonstrated stand out paddling and
impressive boat control, surfing the massive craft with a skill that wowed judges and the beach
crew alike. As a capstone to the first day’s competition, it could not have been more impressive.
As twilight faded and the last free surfers straggled from the water, the competitors gathered
around the fire for a dinner of amazing locally sourced fish and veggies, a series of tribal
vignettes related by Makah elder June Williams and the usual fire side stories and laughs you’ll
find in any group of surf paddlers anywhere. The last event of the night was the widely
anticipated gear raffle, an event that thanks to our many sponsors support, was both
enthusiastically received and helped generate many additional donations to the Makah. A late
night led to a seemingly early Sunday morning, finals day.
To the relief of organizers and competitors alike, Sunday morning dawned with improving
conditions, cleaner swell and no rain. The hard surfing began immediately with the Sea Kayak
heat showcasing the incredible skills and even more incredible maneuvers possible by these
boats in dynamic conditions. Ultimately dominated by a spectacular performance by Kate
Hives, this heat set the tone for the day.
The exceptional surfing continued into the Men’s and Womens HP finals, won by Mat Hoff and
Jameson Riser respectively, as well as Men’s IC, WW, SUP and Waveski with awesome
performances by Zack Boyd, David Brigg, Glen Pearson and Ken Debondt dominating those
respective events. The Battle of the Wave Final saw a spectacular head to head contest that
narrowly resulted in Glen Pearson edging out the dynamic double of Jamie Sharp and Becky
Rogers for the win.
The final competitive event of the weekend, the Scramble distance event, involving a paddle out
through the surf and an approximate two mile race out and around the offshore rocks, saw
David Brigg speed past the field with his surfski hybrid, but also saw Kate Hives dominate the
rest of the competitors with a swift second to third place finisher Costain Leonard and the rest of
As the awards were handed out and final surf stories were told, the event committee
unanimously awarded the Ellen Debondt Memorial Spirit of Surfing Award to David Brigg for his
spirit of aloha during the event, pointing out that his ready smile, willingness to volunteer and his
welcoming spirit captured the ideal of the event and the special attitude present among paddle
surfers in the Pacific Northwest.
As competitors and spectators headed home with smiles, sun (or was it rain ) burns, tired and
sore muscles, and with the occasional medal swinging from the review mirror, the event
committee packed up the tents and judging stand while preparing to donate proceeds of the
contest to Makah tribal youth. Until next year we will have to look forward with excitement to
more friendships, spectacular surfing and aloha on the Northwest Coast.
More information, full results and pictures available at http://www.hobuckhoedown.com and