The competitors came out with their dogs, and they had fun in the sun along with a beautiful day to surf.
It was a sunny Sunday morning to mid-afternoon but with enough clouds and a little breeze to not make the heat unbearable. The 2017 Ohana Surf Dog Competition had 30 competitors, which is the maximum the competition can hold.
“Seeing all the happy dog faces,” said William Cram, who is also known as “Boog.” “And then basically the owners are obviously they’re real excited to get back out on the beach. We haven’t seen them or they’re repeats.”
The competition had two rounds consisting of 22 heats. The dogs had one round with 12 heats before they took a mid-morning break and started the second round for heats 13-22. Each competitor had 10 minutes to show off their dog surfing to the judges.
“Just the dogs, you can see the people anytime, but you get more concentration on the dogs during something like this,” said Matt Hansche, who is from Houston.
They had six judges, and the scoring was based off of how much the dogs went solo, the amplitude of the waves if the dogs caught air and how relaxed the dogs looked. Cram explained these categories were used for all the heats and the final heat.
“I think the favorite part I did is the excitement of the kids because they run to the heat sheets, and they want to know where their dog is at, but then once they find out how they did in their prior heat,” Cram said. “They got first or second, and they kind of run off, and they’re pretty ecstatic.”
The crowd was laughing and smiling all day Sunday as they watched the dogs surf. However, Surf Gidget The Pug did showed off her Southern California moves by doing a 360-degree turn.
“I like that the owners are having so much fun with their dogs, and the dogs are having fun too,” said Janet Barrington who is from Austin. “… We came in to see Gidget The Surfing Pug. … She stayed on the board all the time, and she did a nice spin around, so she had a lot of style points.”
Many people came from different places in Texas to watch this event. Some spectator’s were watching the surf dog competition for the first time. This was Laura Springer’s first time at the surf dog competition who drove down from Missouri City said it is entertaining, and if the dogs are having fun then she was good with it.
“Remember it’s always for a good cause, and that’s most important thing. So we’re here for fun today,” Surf Gidget’s owner Alecia Nelson said. “We just came here for the humane society, … so that’s what important is that we represent SpeakPug, Ohana Surf and then the humane society.”
Surf Gidget The Pug also managed to surf the board backwards. Many other dogs could surf backwards. One dog even held its paws on the front-end of the board.
“She did awesome,” Nelson said. “I think she did much better (the second time) from a pug’s perspective.”
The competition’s average amount of spectators throughout the day was 250 people, but at one point, they had as many as 300 to 400 people standing on the beach.
“The joy I get from it is obviously because we’re helping the shelter,” Cram said. “And without the Galveston Island Humane Society, then obviously we don’t have any sort of insight as to really the plight that which they face, so just seeing a dog getting adopted today as an example, just excitement from that.”
The Galveston Island Humane Society had three dogs adopted during the surf dog competition. Animal health manager Dani Gavin even entered her dog Thunderkats, and said she was impressed with how well people were prepared with their dogs, and she could tell the owners were much more tougher for Sunday’s event.
“I guess just how smooth things went,” Gavin said. “The competition was probably the best part of it. … One of my favorite years.”
The final heat had four dogs, which were Atticus, Hank, Emma and Riptide. In the final heat, Riptide would come out victorious and claim first place. Riptide’s owner, Debbie Markwardt who is from Dallas, said she just wanted to show even a Doberman likes water.
“I wanted to prove to everybody no matter what breed you got or if it’s a purebred, mix or rescue, go on and do something with your dogs and you can accomplish anything,” Markwardt said.
Before the winner was announced, Cram said the event will be better next year with the new sponsors they got from this year to help with the surf dog competition in the future.