March 20, 2016, Santa Cruz, California – We saw excellent conditions last weekend at the 2016 Santa Cruz Paddlefest along West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. For three whole days the city’s most fabled break, Steamer Lane, provided good-sized waves and glassy surf for the three different elite classes competing at the event: Surf Kayaks, Stand Up Paddle Boards and Waveskis.
Naish’s youngest new team rider Annie Reickert competed in the Open Women’s class for stand up paddling. While surfing amongst more experienced competitors on the SUP World Tour, Annie displayed expert consistency and commitment throughout every heat. On the final day Annie managed to out-surf her competitors and claim the first place championship title. We caught up with Annie to get her take on the win and find out what it was like to surf at this break.
N (Naish): What board did you choose to ride during the contest?
A (Annie): I was riding my Naish Hokua 7’3″ LE. The contest stretched over three days and each day had very different conditions. The first day was small, the second day was big and breezy and the third day was big and glassy. As a pro performance wave board, my Hokua LE handled all of these conditions perfectly.
N: How big were the waves and what were the conditions like?
A: The waves were lots of different sizes. It varied from waist high to double overhead. On the final day, I definitely surfed in the glassiest water I have ever seen! Meanwhile, the weather was perfect. It was cloudy off and on so I never get too hot or cold. When the clouds left, the sky was bright blue and beautiful!
N: How competitive was the contest? Would you say it was more fierce or friendly?
A: My competitors were both very fierce and friendly. Some of the best SUP surfers in the country were there. We are all friends at the end of the day but when that buzzer sounds and the heat starts, it’s go time and my goal was to win.
N: Were there any moments that you weren’t sure that you would get a good score? Any particular heat that was difficult or you saw a competitor get a really good wave?
A: I would say that in my second heat I had a hard time finding waves, the peak was shifty because there were two different swells coming from different directions and the waves didn’t have a lot of shoulder. In the end, I got the scores that I needed to win that heat. My final heat was very exciting. The waves started pumping the minute the buzzer sounded and I had to be really smart about my wave choice. I got two decent scores right away and then got caught inside. Meanwhile, I saw Fiona Wylde get an amazing wave that made it through to the inside. At that point, I knew that I needed to get one of those longer rides and I did right at the end of the heat and finished with a strong off the lip right in front of the judges.
N: How do you feel about winning the contest and what are some take-away moments from the trip?
A: I am absolutely thrilled to win this event! I have been training and surfing daily and am really excited that my hard work paid off. Surfing Steamer Lane in such perfect conditions—with only the people in your heat—was unbelievable! The marine life in the bay was incredible; there were dolphins, otters, seals, and whales. It was also pretty wild to surf amongst the kelp.
One of my favorite moments was freesurfing with Fiona Wylde and Team Naish rider Bernd Roediger right after the contest ended. We rode and shared waves that started on the outside and went all the way to the inside, with about 8-10 turns. It is always a blast to surf with good friends!
#NaishSUP #SantaCruzPaddlefest #NaishHokua #NaishStandUpPaddling #SUPcontest #TeamNaish #StandUpPaddling
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