By Josh Pedersen
One of my favorite aspects of the prone paddling community is the camaraderie. I’d say that 90 percent of prone paddlers that I’ve interacted with over the last 15 odd years — whether world famous Jamie Mitchell-types or local, barely known local legends — are willing to share smiles, laughs, and (multiple) beers with each other. Whether racing or just having fun, this camaraderie is a refreshing perspective on the idea of an “ocean community” compared to the relatively different vibe of strapping on a leash and doing battle in the line-up for a few waves.
Recently, Nick and I were both introduced to a new aspect of our ocean community by supporting those in need through paddling. Through local-legend Duke Brouwer we connected with Troy Nebeker and his Monster and Sea 24-Hour Paddle event to raise money for families battling cancer (search the Instagram tag #gobecauseyoucan). The event runs in cities across the US with 6-person teams paddling in pairs around the clock. Each team raises money within their community to benefit one or more families with cancer. It’s super good.
While the paddle community is mostly about having fun and pushing limits in the water, this gives us a chance to be less selfish and do good for others. In 2017 and 2018, Duke put together the Santa Cruz 24 Team, with Nick and I jumping in as #paddlebuddies (yeah, it’s a real hashtag), with a crack crew of other folks. With no real “rules” to the event other than two people paddling at all times during the 24-hour period, we set our format around a two-hour rotation of paddling. Each buddy-pair paddles two hours, rests for four, and then repeats. So we each end up paddling about eight hours total, starting at 8 a.m. on day one and ending at 7 a.m. on day two.
Each pair paddles wherever they like and it’s usually best to mix it up with a few different courses. If you’re lucky, a bunch of other local paddlers come out to support you during the event too. Here is a rough (and really fun) timeline of me and Nick’s paddle in the 2018 24-Hour Event.
8 a.m. to 10 a.m.: All six members of the team paddles for the first hour to the Santa Cruz Mile Buoy then the first pair splits off to do their leg of the trip.
10 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Me, Nick and a few of our local crew do a nice loop up to Natural Bridges along West Cliff Drive.
12 p.m. to 4 p.m.: We rested poolside at the Dream Inn and ate crispy tacos from Las Palmas.
4 p.m. to 6 p.m.: We pull out a dry wetsuit #2 and the Supsquatch to destroy the line-up at Indicators, riding waves on the beast with a couple other giggling, full-grown men. Yes, this totally counts — we were still paddling!
6 p.m. to 10 p.m.: We rest in the room, mentally preparing for a long night of paddling ahead, praying for light south-east winds.
10 p.m. to 12 a.m.: We don dry wetsuit #3 and jump in with our main man Dave Benet for a Mile Buoy Blacks Point loop in the darkness. The phytoplankton bloom is in full force and lights up the water as we paddle (very epic), a light, south-eastern breeze blowing (also very epic).
12 a.m. to 4 a.m.: We get back and snuggle up in bed, pretending to get some sleep while the other teams march in and out. Someone tells a dirty joke about a ‘used’ bootie.
4 a.m. to 5:55 a.m.: Dave Benet wakes us up with coffee and donuts and we begrudgingly get out of bed, throwing on dry wetsuit #4. Excitement is a bit low at this hour but we proudly manage to eke out the slowest recorded paddle to the Santa Cruz Harbor and back.
6 a.m. to 7 a.m.: We return at 5:55 and all the other teams are on the beach with some families, finishing the 24-hour paddle as a group. My groms are there, bringing a tear to my eye. We ride waves at Cowells for an hour, sprinting back to the beach and Dream Inn hot tub where breakfast burritos and Modelos await.
7 a.m. on: All day Modelos and lots of laughs in the hot tub.
Thanks to the generosity of our broader community each year we’ve raised over $7,500 for each of the selected families battling cancer. We’ve also been super lucky to have had dozens of local paddlers out to lend their support during the day and nighttime hours. When it ends, we all feel a renewed appreciation for our ocean community and to have had the opportunity to help others by doing something we love. I’m really looking forward to the next one.
If you’re interested in putting a 24-Hour team together and helping families with cancer in your area, all you need is 6 people, some grit, and a few paddle boards. Contact Troy Nebeker for more info and to help you start planning. Listen to Troy’s podcast interview to hear more about me and Nick’s adventure and the 24-Hour Paddle program. #gobecauseyoucan