Trinidad to Little River Dash 2015

By Jason Self

Trinidad, Northern California, is an ocean paddler’s paradise. Nestled in the middle of the Emerald Triangle, isolated from big city encroachment behind the Redwood Curtain, this small but thriving coastal community is part of the California Coastal National Monument, noted for it’s spectacular coastal scenery, including numerous offshore rocks and wildlife, secluded beaches, headlands, bluffs, and towering redwood trees. What started as an idea hatched during a memorial paddle-out for a local waterman in 2010 turned into the First Annual Trinidad to Little River Dash; A word of mouth, under the radar, friendly open-ocean downwinder SUP race.


Racers enjoy the seclusion of the California Coastal National Monument Photo: Jason Self

Competitors in this small down home event launch in Trinidad Harbor and paddle out of the protection of Trinidad head towards open ocean where they turn South to catch the prevailing NW wind and swell. After a three mile paddle to Camel Rock, paddlers must take on the surf zone at Moonstone Beach and enter the Little River for a short sprint to the finish line.


Paddlers cross the finish line at the Trinidad to Little River Race. Photo: Jason Self

Interest in the race grew over the next four years to the point it could no longer remain an underground event. After a brief exchange of ideas after the 2014 race between Pacific Outfitters’ Jason Self and event co-founder James Bavin, a partnership was born. Pacific Outfitters became the official host in 2015, assuming liability for the event and opening it to the public. With the addition of local sponsors including KHUM Radio, Mad River Brewing, Humboldt Hot Sauce, Franco’s Bones & Beeds, and industry support from Riviera Paddlesurf, Clif Bar, and Sea to Summit, the event will continue to flourish and grow.

Conditions for the 2015 Trinidad to Little River Dash were ideal. Sunshine, NW wind to 15mph, NW swell 4-6ft at 11 seconds with waste to head high surf at the finish line were challenging, but not extreme for this group of salty paddlers. As racers gathered at the launch beach, low clouds and drizzle blew in from the North, adding the challenge of low visibility to the competition. Board selection and strategy are the key to this race. Starting in flatwater, transitioning to open ocean swell and chop, with a transit through the surf zone to the beach forces paddlers to utilize all of their skills. A stout lead on the ocean with a race board can quickly disappear against a surf class board in the surf and soup, it’s anyone’s game. Competition classes include Unlimited (over 14ft), 14ft & under, 12ft 6in, 12ft, 11ft, and 10ft & under.

James Bavin (14ft Class) and Hugh Holdt (Unlimted Class) pulled ahead early on, paddling neck and neck for the first two and a half miles. Just as they approached Camel Rock, Hugh appeared to lose a bit of steam and conceded the lead to James, who navigated the surf zone with perfection, finishing first over all and taking first place in the 14ft Class with a time of 28:11. Hugh Holdt finished strong, taking the Unlimited Class with a race time of 29:51. Tyrone Trent took the 12’6″ Class at 30:57, followed by 12″ Class winner Steve Monk with a time of 32:20. Chris Donnelly won the 11ft class at 32:41, followed by 10 & Under winner Jay Scrivner at 36:34.

In true Humboldt down home fashion, competitors, friends, and family gathered after the race at Merryman’s at Moonstone Beach for awards, fresh grilled Humboldt Bay oysters, local craft beer, and live surf music from local group the Sand Fleas. After all, that’s what this event is all about; A gathering of the tribe and a celebration of the ocean and this beautiful spot on the planet we call home. No matter how the event grows in the future, you can expect the friendly Humboldt vibe to remain at the core of the event for years to come.”

Paddler's reconvene after the race for celebration and awards. Photo: Jason Self

Paddler’s reconvene after the race for celebration and awards. Photo: Jason Self