steamer lane

Photo: Aaron Schmidt

Santa Cruz Paddlefest 2015

29 years ago, when the closest thing to a “surf kayak” was still a whitewater boat and SUP was nothing more than a colloquial greeting, the Santa Cruz Paddlefest was born. Nearly three decades later, in addition to a SUP race from Santa Cruz Warf to the harbor and back, the competition features three divisions of surf kayaking competition and best of all, a SUP surfing contest at Santa Cruz’s most iconic break, Steamer Lane.

The competition this year starts Friday with the first round of surfing at The Lane, and afterward a party at Olitas Mexican on the Santa Cruz Warf. Cheers with a few pros and reflect on a day of good surf? Don’t mind if we do. Saturday sees round two of the surf event, followed by the Covewater Surf City SUP race and Cowells Classic Surfing event. Sunday hosts the late-rounds of surf competition at Steamer Lane and the Cowells Classic, a noncompetitive surf event at Cowells Beach. The event closes Sunday evening with the Paddlefest award ceremony at Lighthouse Point Park. See the complete breakdown of the schedule below.

Contest organizers expect one of the largest turnouts to date for the Covewater Surf City SUP race, with more entrants than last year already registered for the event. Registration is open until the race day (Saturday), so there’s still time to sign up.

The forecast is pretty darn sweet for wintertime in Central California, with mid-70, sunny days projected through the weekend. Swell is on the incline, too, with the forecast calling for consistent mid-sized surf throughout the competition. As contest organizer, Matt Hoff, put it, “Conditions will be very contestable for the surf competition. It's not going to be too big, but it will be clean, consistent and punchy. Really, it's everything you could want for a successful contest.” And for the competitors, what’s better than surfing the Lane all weekend with only a few friends out?

SUP the mag contest correspondent, Mike Fields, will be onsite at the Santa Cruz Paddlefest, so stay tuned for real-time, exclusive coverage and behind-the-scenes insight.

Event Schedule

Thursday 3/12/15

5:00pm – Pre-Paddlefest Party at Adventure Sports Unlimited (register, boats checking in, goodie bag pick up. Competitors and folks who have bought meal tickets will enjoy food and beer provided by Ninkasi Brewing.)

Friday 3/13/15

7:00am to 5:00pm – Round 1 of surfing events at the Lane.
6:00pm – Paddlefest party at Olitas Mexican Cantina on the Santa Cruz wharf. Head on over after the day's heats are finished. The following day's heats will be posted at the Olitas Party.

Saturday 3/14/15

7:00am to 5:00pm – Round 2 of surfing events at the Lane.
7:00am – Covewater Surf City SUP Race check in.
9:00am – Covewater Surf City SUP Race start gun.
10:00am to 2pm, – Cowells Classic Surfing events.
6:00pm – Covewater Surf City SUP Race awards at Pono's Hawaiian Grill. All competitors, friends and family are invited.

Sunday 3/15/15

7:00am to 3:30pm – Quarters, Semis, and Finals of surfing events at the Lane.
11:00am to 3pm, – Cowells Classic surfing events.
4:30pm – Santa Cruz Paddlefest Awards at the Lane.

The Surf Site

steamer lane

Steamer Lane on the point, Indicators in the middle, Cowells on the inside. Photo: Sean Morley

The Race Course

santa cruz paddlefest course


Santa Cruz Paddlefest video teaser: