Hobuck Hoedown Paddle Surf Festival 2019 Summary
The Northwest coast welcomed this year’s Hobuck Hoedown Paddle Surf Festival, held on September 28 & 29, 2019, with perfect sunny fall weather near Neah Bay on Makah Tribal lands. Luckily, this year, Cape Flattery protected Hobuck Beach for the contest, allowing surfers to avoid predicted strong Northeast winds, setting up the contest for great conditions with 3-4 foot surf. The 27 competitors included paddlers from up and down the West Coast of the U.S, many regular local competitors from both British Columbia and Washington/Oregon as well as paddlers from as far afield as Minnesota.
Competition heated up quickly on Saturday morning with the Men’s HP (High Performance) division and continued throughout the day with multiple classes surfing in two rounds of heats each. Although the first heats began at low tide with initial waves dumping into a beach break, competitors welcomed clean faces without the originally predicted strong winds as conditions improved steadily through the day. Zack Boyd from Santa Cruz, CA challenged the initial men’s heats with a demonstration of the dynamic performance moves which won him a spot on this last year’s US West Team and a trip to the World Championships in Peru. He was quickly challenged by local NW favorite, Hamp All, BC’s Jamie Sharp and Oregonian David Brigg.
The two heats of the Sea Kayak division, one of the most visually impressive classes for spectators, showcased many of the incredible BC kayakers in the event, including Costain Leonard and Mike Gill, as they challenged local NW Coast paddlers Jason Learned and Chris Bensch. Each of these talented paddlers demonstrated incredible sea kayaking skills, completing the maneuvers and showcasing the boat handling skills that sets the Hobuck Hoedown apart as a stage for sea kayakers at the highest levels of the sport. Whitewater/Plastic demonstrated to the Surf Specific kayakers that they are not alone in being able to maintain and surf the green wave face, while also throwing in signature whitewater freestyle moves. The SUP class was a terrific show of grace and fluidity, showing what is possible on a board using a single paddle. Waveski also continued to impress with a wide range of ultra dynamic styles in their own highly competitive heats.
IC (International Class) had more competitors than normal this year and featured incredibly close competition with paddlers demonstrating a variety of styles. The classic longboard style of carving is traditional to the class, while other competitors pushed the envelope with more radical HP style maneuvers. All was impressive to watch and competition was close for a challenging Sunday final.
The Women’s Battle of the Wave was one of the last heats of the day as a mixed category of surf craft that included a Wave Ski and a Sit-On-Top Kaos, as well as surf kayaks. The first day concluded with the always favorite SUP-Squatch heat consisting of two oversized inflatable SUPs containing 5 paddlers each hilariously competing to catch waves while trying to prevent their paddlers from being ejected from the craft. The Safety Crew strongly showcased their talents in this event, pulling off the win by surfing multiple waves against an event competitor crew on the other SUP-Squatch.
Saturday night, competitors, spectators and volunteers were treated to a delicious Salmon dinner provided by Linda’s Kitchen of Neah Bay during the night’s fireside social gathering. As part of the evening, an informative talk was given by Makah Cultural and Research Center Director Janine Ledford, outlining the Center’s Makah youth language, art and social programs which are the recipients of all Hobuck Hoedown profits. To close the evening, the ever-popular annual raffle of paddling schwag (made possible by several local donations including Olympic Outdoor Center in Port Gamble and Paddler’s Supply in Anacortes) raised additional funds to be donated to the Makah Museum programs. A few lingered by the fire after to share stories, but most went off to get some sleep after an long, fun-filled day.
Sunday began energetically with a separate but parallel event, The Makah Coast Race, an offshore SUP, Surf Ski and Outrigger event, competing on a 6 mile course. Simultaneously, Hoedown surf competition heats for all progressed through all Semi’s and Finals with continued great wave conditions and sunny skies. Competition in all the classes was fierce and close with most of the top paddlers competing in back to back heats in different classes of boats and displaying absolutely impressive surfing. As is usual for the Hoedown, competition wrapped up by mid-day and flowed into an afternoon awards ceremony (results attached). Memorable waves were surfed by every contestant, old friendships renewed and new friendships made.
The Ellen Debondt Aloha Memorial Award (which celebrates the most notable aloha spirit among competitors) went to BC paddler and long-time competitor Jamie Sharp for his show of community spirit, support of other competitors and spirit of aloha during the two days of the festival.
The Hobuck Hoedown Paddle Surf Festival sincerely thanks all of the many volunteers, judges and organizers which make the Festival possible as well as contest sponsors. Deserving particular thanks, although this year saw few swims or need for rescue skills, are the Washington Kayak Club (WKC) Safety Crew volunteers. These skilled instructors, marshaled by Lynn Paquette and including Esther Ladwig, Marty Ladwig, Ed Hand, Scott Duncan as well as volunteers from the ranks of competitors, collectively maintained an eagle-eyed beach watch in readiness to help a paddler in trouble - the Festival would not have happened without their dedicated and selfless efforts.
The 2019 Hoedown raised substantial funds above operating costs which are earmarked for the Makah Cultural ad Research Center, and event organizers are looking forward to delivering a donation check to the the Museum once the books are balanced in late October.
That’s the Hoedown report for 2019, come share a wave, compete or watch at next year’s Festival planned for October 3 & 4, 2020 - until then, we’ll see you in the lineup!