Canine Surfers Catch Waves at World Dog Surfing Championships

Nevena Nacic
by Nevena Nacic
KK Stock/Shutterstock

The World’s cutest surfing competition took place on Saturday, August 5th, 2023 at Linda Mar Beach, in Pacifica near San Francisco. The annual event is part of the World Dog Surf Championships, bringing together adorable four-legged surfers from across the nation.

Outfitted in wetsuits, colorful life jackets, goggles, and sunglasses, the pooches were a sight for sore eyes as they rode the waves in an attempt to win first place in one of seven categories. This year’s event attracted a big crowd that reveled in the day filled with fun dog-themed activities, including a pet wellness fair, beach dog fashion and costume contest, mobile pet adoptions, and yappy hour after event. 

Visitors had a chance to find a new four-legged best friend through mobile pet adoptions and owners could get expert advice on pet care, ask any questions, and get their current dog checked out by a licensed veterinarian. 

This event isn’t just about dogs riding waves - it’s also a fundraising event for local animal rescue and welfare groups like Rocket Dog Rescue and Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA. Also, a portion of the money raised is set for environmental and surfing nonprofit organizations. 

First to hit the waves were small dogs, followed by medium, large, and very large canine surfers. To help a four-legged surfer catch the perfect wave, two human surfers held the board with the dog on it. And when the right wave rolled in and was small enough for the dog to safely balance on it, they would let the board go. 

The pooches would ride the wave to the shore, before jumping off to the beach to be greeted by loyal fans. A panel of judges picked the winners based on the length of their ride on the wave and their surfing style. 

Carson and Delilah shared first place in the small dog category and Cherie, an 11-year-old French bulldog won for medium dogs. Her owners Amy and Dan Nykolayko told the San Francisco ChronicleShe loved the water from the start. Her first time at the beach she bolted to the water.” Dan and Cherie learned to surf together and attended their first surfing competition a week before Cherie’s second birthday.  

This was Cherie’s second time winning at the World Dog Surfing Championships as the took the title in 2019 too. “She picked it up faster than me,” Dan said.  

The waves this year come quickly and were choppier, creating challenging conditions for canine surfers. But that didn’t stop Faith, a 12-year-old American pitbull terrier from San Diego to win in the large dog category. Fath’s owner James Wall explained “It was like, as soon as you clear one wave, the next one is right behind you. It’s great for humans but a little tough for humans with dogs.”

In addition to solo categories for dogs of all sizes, humans could participate with their pooches in a human-dog tandem category. There was also an award for the best dog-dog surf tandem of the day. 

Nevena Nacic
Nevena Nacic

Nevena is a freelance writer and a proud mom of Teo, a 17-year-old poodle, and Bob, a rescued grey tabby cat. Since childhood, she had a habit of picking up strays and bringing them home (luckily, her parents didn't know how to say NO). When she's not writing for her fellow pet parents, Nevena can be found watching Teo sleep. To her defense, that's not as creepy as it sounds!

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