The 10th annual Logjam! presented by the Big Stick Surfing Association took a stylish cross-step back in time last weekend, April 24-25, at the Dirt Farm and Pleasure Point on Santa Cruz’s Eastside. True to the mantra of “old boards, no cords,” some 100 participants competed for two days on yellowed, 20-pound vintage longboards that were crafted prior to 1970.
The event was not so much a competition as a gathering of tribes, as surf clubs from up and down the coast met in appreciation of the roots, history and culture of California surfing. Mother Nature embraced the revival with summery offshore conditions that saw some intrepid surfers pull on their board shorts, while others kept their wetsuits zipped up snugly against spring-like water temperatures.
Vintage boards were littered along the cliffs, keeping one another company in between heats, providing shade for stray dogs and spectators alike. Some water-logged, others well-kept, the boards were the stars of the event, with pedigrees such as Hobie, Yater, Noll, Hansen and Bing hauled out of rafters and garages, dusted off for the show. There was no lack of variety among the coveted “big sticks” and, just like the old days, most remained in place for the day, tipped against the rocks like foam and resin monoliths. There they waited patiently until placed with care in water by their masters, displacing their mass and breathing new life back into these old “logs.”
Competitors in several divisions ranged from juniors to grandmasters, with paddle racing, tandem riding and aloha team surfing as well. The aloha rounds provided some of the best entertainment value, as pairs took off on waves together on separate boards and attempted to synchronize cross-stepping, go-behinds, jump-to-tandem rides and even drink cocktails in sync (no arrests were made). True to the spirit of the event, first round heats on Saturday were mixed with competitors in each category blended into each heat, getting a chance to score on the best two out of three waves in two 15-minute heats. Semis and finals on Sunday took the classic configuration of like-classes of surfers pitted against one another.
Juniors like Kai Madeiros and Liam Hession rode boards at least a couple decades older than themselves, demonstrating maturity and dexterity beyond their years in navigating the kelp balls and the slippery, mossy, low-tide reef pockets. Like the classic boards they were riding; leathery, barrel-chested old-timers trimmed up to speed and shed years with each nimble step. Some of the most graceful surfing was done by the wahines (women), like Cathy Mayerhoffer and Ashley Lloyd, who found the equipment complemented their natural grace and style.
This year’s Logjam! was dedicated to past director and Big Stick official photographer Phil Matthews, who passed away earlier this year at the relatively young age of 58. Known for his tireless volunteerism, organizational skills and stoke, like a surfing Kris Kringle, bearded Phil embodied the Aloha Spirit of the club, the Point and the event. His spirit of generosity lived on during the event, with last year’s Senior Men’s champion, Ryan Devine, loaning his vintage stick to a junior men’s grom, and other similar acts of kindness repeated over the course of the weekend.
The event was a fundraiser for the Big Stick scholarship fund, which supports “young surfers who rip in the waves and excel academically.” Funds also go to the Ride a Wave Foundation that brings surf riding to underprivileged and disabled kids, and the Surfrider Foundation in Santa Cruz, which is the custodian of our coast. Boards for the raffle were provided by local surfboard makers City Fog, Paradise, Junod, Arrow, Coffey, Freeline, GP and Surftech, who rounded out an army of more than 20 longtime sponsors that showed the deep reservoir of support for surfing and giving back to our sun-kissed community.
Longevity, health and stoke of the surfing habit was well-represented in the Legends final, which came down to an epic showdown between Michel Junod (1), Steve Bigler (2) and Rym Partridge (3). Team standings resulted in a very tight finish between SCLU (1), PPSC (2) and BSSA (3). Special Honor awards went to several deserving candidates: Waylon Olsen received the Jay Moriarity Award, Tonya Pham the Phil Matthews Award, and the Hot Dog Logger Award went to Michel Junod.
Full results can be found via the following link: http://www.bigsticksurfing.org/
Photos by Mike Wallace