Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Surf & Sun & Fun at the Hobuck Hoedown Paddle Surf Festival 2015

By Hamp All and Barbara Dekeyser

Sunshine, blue skies, a bit of offshore breeze and clean, consistent 3–4’ swell with the occasional 6’ green wall out in the lineup! For both competitors and spectators alike, the weekend of 3–4 October provided the 2015 Hobuck Hoedown Paddle Surf Festival with near perfect conditions on the beach, in the water and around the campfire.

This year, the newly reconstituted festival was organized and run by an all volunteer group of dedicated Northwest Coast paddle surfers. The event brought together competitors from Washington, Oregon, California and Canada in a truly North American Pacific Coast event and is now non profit (all profits are donated to Makah Nation youth programs). The festival still features the highly competitive paddle surfing that consistently makes the contest an exciting event for everyone in attendance.

New this year was the inclusion of a highly competitive stand–up paddle board division (SUP) and an overall “Battle – King of the wave” event open to any competitor and any craft.

Also a first was the Skookum division, encouraging newer paddle surfers to compete in an open, relaxed and encouraging event at a reduce price.

The Skookum division provided enthusiastic competition in challenging conditions first thing Saturday morning. As a result, Skookum was easily as exciting as the more established competitive classes like High Performance Kayak (HP), International Class (IC), Whitewater (WW), Waveski and Sea Kayak (SK). Skookum saw outstanding surfing leading to first through third place medals for James Manke, Hunter Vincent (at 12 years old, the youngest competitor in the festival) and Dave Crocker.

The Sea Kayak, SUP, WW and Waveski divisions all provided incredibly competitive and beautiful to watch surfing in every class, with stand-out performances on the wave by Chris Bensch, Costain Léonard and Travis Young (SK), Glen Pearson and Jason Bennett (Men’s SUP), Ayu Othman (Women’s SUP), Jeremy Beninger, David Brigg and Jeffery Steelher (WW) and Travis Boothe, Ken DeBondt and David Brigg (Waveski), resulting in medals for each of them.

The perennially competitive IC and HP classes were as entertaining and inspiring to watch as always, with extremely aggressive and fluid paddle surfing by all competitors in challenging beach–break conditions. This year Paul Guinea expertly surfed his way to wins in both HP and HP Masters against an extremely fierce field including medalists Zack Boyd, Hamp All and Dan Ward while in women’s HP Ayu Othman surfed with style in an extremely tight win over new competitor Jen Bailey. In the equally combative IC Division, Chris Bensch surfed beautifully to pull off a win despite strong competition from Zack Boyd and Jeffery Steehler.

In the “King of the wave” event, long time North West Coast surf paddler Hamp All held off exceptionally determined surfing by Zack Boyd and Chris Bensch in smaller Sunday conditions to win the first medal in this new division and the Kayak Scramble distance race around the offshore rocks was dominated by Jamie Klein with a determined effort by Costain Léonard achieving a strong second place finish.

Two final awards were given during the weekend. The first, the memorial Ellen DeBondt award, is designed to recognize the spirit of aloha of Joyce resident, surf paddler, local outdoor athlete and friend Ellen DeBondt (tragically killed in 2011 by a DUI driver). The Ellen Debondt award was presented by unanimous vote of the event committee to Jen Bailey in recognition of Jen’s spirit of aloha, her contributions to the local surfing community and her welcoming approach to surfing.The second award, a one–time “Best Dressed” prize donated by local paddler and previous Hoedown organizer Bill Walker, was given to David Briggs in recognition of his exotic and patriotic attire.

The Saturday night catered dinner was a blast as usual, with many laughs, stories and fun. Exceptional fresh seafood and veggies were provided by Linda’s Woodfired Kitchen in Neah Bay, local lore and tribal stories were provided by Makah Elder June Williams and a fun raffle enabled by sponsors’ donated prizes helped raise funds for Makah Youth Programs.

On Sunday afternoon, after a sunny and warm awards ceremony, the tired and sun–baked crew of surf paddlers headed out from beautiful Neah Bay back toward their daily lives, knowing that they had helped raise $1000 for Makah Youth Programs while making new friendships, and with memories of amazing surf paddling, maybe a few sore muscles, and large smiles.

The 2016 Hobuck Hoedown is currently planned for 1–2 October 2016. Check after January 1st 2016 for news.

Many, many thanks to the Hobuck Hoedown paddle surf festival committee and all volunteers for their passion and dedication in supporting this festival as well as to sponsors; including the American Canoe Association (ACA), Adventures through Kayaking (Port Angeles, WA), Alder Creek (OR), Fluid Moves Surf Kayak Training, Kayak Academy (Issaquah, WA), Kokatat Watersports Wear, Olympic Outdoor Center (Port Gamble, WA), Olympic Raft and Kayak (Port Angeles, WA), P&H Sea Kayaks, Snapdragon Design and Sound Bikes and Kayaks (Port Angeles, WA).

Full festival results are available at

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