Welcome to California’s dog surfing championships

What do you get when you cross California’s official Surf City with a beach-load of excitable four-legged wave lovers? The Surf City Surf Dog Championships, of course.

Taking place every September on the sunny shores of Huntington Beach, a laid-back town 40 minutes’ drive south of Los Angeles, the tail-wagging hoopla gives adventurous hounds the chance to show off their wave-shredding skills in a bid to be crowned champion surf dog.

Dogs travel in from all over the States to attend the fun but deadly competitive event.

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Kitted out in flouro-green life jackets, pastel-pink wetsuits, sunnies and caps, they ride the waves solo or tandem, cheered on by 4,000 odd spectators.

From the small and furry westies to the cuddly bulldogs, here are some of the dogs set to take on the waves at this weekend’s surf championships.

Meet Petey, an athletic snow-white westie who’s riding the waves this year to raise awareness for Westie Rescue of Orange County and Beyond. Petey is hot on the heels of Joey the Rescue, a surf veteran who retired after last year’s event with a cabinet full of medals at 13 years old. This year, Petey will be riding the waves solo, launched by his handler, who’s been training him in Huntington Beach over the summer. When he’s not surfing, you’ll find him hanging out in the westie tent with his fluffy entourage.

Gidget the pug 

An unlikely looking champ, at first glance Gidget may appear to be a nonplussed pug sporting a Barbie-pink baseball camp and wetsuit, but in fact she’s one of this year’s hottest contenders, and is such a good surfer that she even surfs backwards, performing 360-degree spins along the way. Gidget’s owners first picked up on her surf skills when the former agility dog hopped on a paddleboard and cruised her way across the ocean. With stable legs and a serious core, they realised they had an athlete on their hands. This year the tiny pug will be competing in the ‘under 20 pounds’ category.

Skyler the Queensland heeler

All eyes are on Skyler Valentine Henard, who’s back in the shredder division following a string of wins over the last few years, including 2nd place in the shredder division in 2018 and 1st place in the tandem dog and human division in 2017.

The red Queensland heeler first got into surfing when her owner, Homer, took his paddleboard out on the harbour and Skyler jumped right on. In surf events, you’ll find her out back riding the big waves instead of sticking to the white water, all while raising awareness for several surf-therapy organisations, including Waves of Impact, Ride a Wave and Walk on Water. 

Cherie the Frenchie 

Cherie the Frenchie has made quite a name for herself, not just as a pro four-legged surfer but as an Instagram star. With over 30,000 followers and counting, when the eight-year-old pooch isn’t out in the ocean you’ll find her promoting healthy snacks and shampoo, enjoying massages on the beach and raising money for the French Bulldog Rescue Network. The fashion-focused Frenchie takes her clothes as seriously as her sport – catch her in pink bikinis, Metallica t-shirts, flower garlands and neon-pink shades. This year, she’ll be going for gold in the owner launched category of the competition. 

Rothstein the bulldog 

Wave-loving bulldog Rothstein will be travelling up from San Diego for this weekend’s event, in a bid to be hailed surf king of Huntington Beach. When he’s not competing, you’ll find him out on the waves at Pacific Beach, bonding with his owner John Garcia and capturing up-close Go Pro footage of his weekend surfing action. And when he’s not on the water, he’ll be cruising the streets in his Hawaiian shirts, or watching the San Diego Padres, his favourite baseball team.

The Huntington Beach Surf City Surf Dog Event is free to attend this Saturday 28 September 2019.

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