The second annual World Dog Surfing Championships drew crowds of over 1,000 spectators on Linda Mar Beach, California a few weeks ago. But don’t worry; none of the dogs were forced onto surfboards. They were all monitored by professionals beforehand and were required to wear life jackets at all times. Dogs could surf in categories based on their size and there were also prizes for tandem surfing, either with a human & a dog or two dogs together. Three judges evaluated the dogs’ surfing performance based on two main criteria, ability to stay on the board and how happy the dog looked.
One of the judges told the San Francisco Chronicle that judging is a highly subjective process.
“It’s a feeling. You’re looking for ability to stand, ride, move in the wave,” said judge Sam Stahl. “You’re looking for style. How panicked or how calm the dog is. That makes a difference.”
As well as surfing, there were competitions for Frisbee catching and ball fetching (from the water). Those not quite so keen on the sea could also compete in a doggy fashion contest. There was also a wellness fair where dogs could be checked over by a vet, have their nails and teeth examined and even get a doggy massage.
The event is free to attend and take part in but participants are encouraged to fundraise for local charities, with proceeds going to surfing, animal and environmental non-profit organisations.
Although this is only the second annual event, dog-surfing was actually invented many years ago with occurrences being documented as early as the 1920’s in California and Hawaii. A silent movie from the 1930’s entitled ‘On The Waves In Waikiki’ depicts a man and his terrier surfing together on a wooden surfboard. Dog-surfing now happens all over the world and competitions can be found in California, Florida, Australia and the UK.