Surf Kayaking Santa Cruz

Kayak Surfing Santa Cruz

I was fortunate enough on my SMX west conference to swindle two days of kayak surfing near Santa Cruz into the mix.

I did some research about where to rent a surf kayak, but then remembered the flippant offer from world surf competitor Sean Morely to give him a call if I wanted to surf. I managed to get a hold of him and he offered to take me out, but it didn’t work out, and he had a class to attend for a new ACA surf instructor certification. So he benevolently lent me a carbon kevlar Valley Rush and a paddle.

Sean gave some advice that Davenport, about 10 Miles north of Santa Cruz would probably be the best place to try as it is more paddle surfer friendly. Laura and I loaded up the surf kayak on our tiny rental car and drove north along California Highway 1. The drive is beautiful with a dramatic coastline and lots of open space unlike a lot of Southern California. We found Davenport Landing quite easily. I walked down the beach and checked out the break. A medium size swell was breaking in a manageable fashion off of some offshore rocks. But the waves came right up to some cliffs and rocks. On the other side of the break and further out, there were some very large faces that appeared to be more dumpy. I was clearly not going to go near that.

Day 1 Davenport Landing

I suited up and headed out. Again, paddling out on flat water is always a treat for a midwestern boy! Once out I was quite cautious because of all the rocks. but once I started catching rides I calmed down a bit. I caught a number of excellent rides and scooted off the back before they crashed into the onshore rocks. Faces were 4-6 feet at most. I managed to only wipe out once or twice. I can say that I had forgotten how awful it is to use a straight shaft white water paddle for rolling, the indexing is very iffy and I felt pretty rushed to get some air a few times.

Day 2 Davenport Landing

This day was far windier than the first. Wind was peaking at about 20 knots. This is more what I am accustomed to kayak surfing on Lake Michigan. The faces were smaller and harder to catch. I still caught some great rides. I even managed to paddle with some other kayak surfers, which is a first for me. And as it turns out fortuitous. I had the bum luck of a dumb swim. The wind and the rip carried me to the far end of the break, and I had to stand cold, tired, and feeling a little stupid on the beach. The surf was not even as big as it had been on Lake Michigan on days when I had stayed in the boat. I keep reminding myself that for a beginning kayak surfer on Great Lakes Surf with no training, maybe I should be more forgiving of my follies. Hopefully I get to make a few more mistakes!

The Valley Rush Surf Kayak

The kayak was excellent! I’ve never surfed such a fast surf craft. Once downwave this boat was unbelievable. It’s far and above the sweetest ride I’ve had yet. The power pocket tail was really helpful in getting a good takeoff. Though it seemed a little loose in the tail on some turns where I got squirted out of the whitewater. I think the fin placement could have used a little adjustment to the back to allow me to grab a little tighter.

Many Thanks to Sean for the opportunity to paddle the Rush!

Check out the picasa picture gallery:


  1. Pingback:ACA Surf Kayak Committee Announces IDW for Nov 2009 |

  2. Great trip report Keith. Looks like you are getting the hang of the WordPress. Looks great.

    Thanks for sharing your adventures. Keep it up.