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By Eddie Trujillo

Imperial Beach, November 7. With a super fun 2-3’ south swell running and more than 170 contestants, the 12th Annual WILDCOAST Dempsey Holder Ocean Festival and Surf Contest on Saturday, November 7, was a huge success. “The morning conditions were perfect,” said contest director Zach Plopper of WILDCOAST. “With a record turnout cheering them on, competing surfers loved the rippable peaks and especially the lined up hollow lefts that reeled off the Imperial Beach pier all morning.”

Surfers from throughout San Diego County and Baja California battled it out all day in the highly competitive event. First place winners included Mariana Valencia (Menehune Girls 11 under), Tiare Thompson (Junior Women 12-17), Sydney Zoehrer (Women 18+), Charlie Liange (Menehune Boys 11 under), Peter Stewart (Boys 12-14), Shane Berchtold (Junior Men 15-17), Jay Christenson (Men 18+), Sean Fowler (Masters), Larry Kraus (Grandmasters), Jeff Knox (Kahuna), Shane Berchtold (Kneeboard), Terry Gillard (Longboard), and Anthony Zambrano (Bodyboard).

This year for the first time, the Dempsey was part of the binational Baja Bound Surf Series to tie together the sport of surfing across the Californias. “We were stoked to sponsor such a competitive surf series in Baja and San Diego County,” said Geoff Hill of Baja Bound Insurance. “It’s a perfect venue to highlight how surfing benefits our economies on both sides of the border and brings together surfers from both countries in friendship and competition.” The series will end with a third event, the Baja Surf Club Invitational at San Miguel in Ensenada, Mexico, on January 16 and 17. The top ten men and women in the leader standings after the Dempsey and the Walter Caloca will be invited to compete. Stay tuned for details.

During the 12th Annual Dempsey, more than a 1,000 people came out for the contest on the north side of the Imperial Beach pier and enjoyed the perfect weather. Many took the opportunity to write letters to federal legislators to ask for infrastructure upgrades to clean up the Tijuana River. “It was so inspiring to see our community advocate for cleaning up our coast and ocean,” said Paloma Aguirre of WILDCOAST. “We were stoked that so many volunteers from so many organizations and schools, including the San Ysidro Girl Scouts and Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach, came out to help out with the event.”


Picture by Eddie Trujillo

The WILDCOAST Dempsey Holder Ocean Festival and Surf Contest is a tribute to legendary surfer, lifeguard and City of Imperial Beach Parks and Recreation Director Allan “Dempsey” Holder who was a big wave surfing pioneer in California and a renowned waterman. “It is so special to help put on a surf contest and ocean festival in honor of my grandfather,” said John Holder of WILDCOAST, who is leading efforts to clean up the Tijuana River Valley and estuary. “I know he would be honored to see so many people out celebrating a clean coast and ocean.”

During the event, San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox, a member of the California Coastal Commission and the White House Oceans Commission, presented WILDCOAST with a proclamation announcing November 7, 2015, as “WILDCOAST Live Well San Diego Day” in recognition of the organization’s status as a Live Well San Diego partner. “It is awesome to receive the recognition by Supervisor Cox and Live Well San Diego,” said Plopper. “We know that our mission and programs focused on preserving coastal and marine ecosystems fit perfectly with Live Well San Diego’s three components of Building Better Health, Living Safely and Thriving Communities.”

WILDCOAST would like to give a special thanks to local Imperial Beach shaper Jay Novak for shaping four incredible boards just for this event. The boards went to an opportunity drawing of all of the event’s youth participants. Four grommets got to take home a brand new board regardless of how they finished in the contest! The winners were Charlie Liang, Illiana Lopez, Kalany Appel and Luke Wilson.

This year’s Dempsey sponsors included the Port of San Diego, County of San Diego, Borden Ranches, California American Water, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, Pacifica Companies, Sterling Tours, Emerald City Surf, Jay Novak Surfboards, Pacific Realty, Alan Cunniff, CEL-FI-Nextivity, Cowabunga, and Baja Bound. In kind donations were provided by the City of Imperial Beach, Pier South Resort, D’ames Day Spa, Sea180, Coronado Brewing Company, Boca Rio Ink, Isla Surf and SUP, Kind Bards, Oakley, Naked Viking Surf, Surf Hut, The Painted Surfer, Jolyn Clothing, The Surfer’s Journal, The Outlets at the Border, K-Pasta, Home Depot, Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, Barrel’s and IB Pet.

Pictures of the event here.   Tag us on social media or use #SurfDempsey to see more of your awesome pictures!


Jeff Knox 1
Ron Murray 2
Brad Colwell 1
Randy Morris 2
Hutner Johnson 3
Joseph Coyne 4
Jeff Wallis 5
Tom Fish 6
Larry Kraus 1
Craig Macia 2
Robert Bowen 3
Ron Smith 4
Billy Huddleston 5
Memo Mendez 6
Sean Fowler 1
Jaimie Tuckey 2
Todd Ingalls 3
Sean Malabanan 4
Ed Custodio 5
Michael Hastings 6
Sydney Zoehrer 1
Daphne Mannhalter 2
Jasmin Aguilar 3
Cassie Hero 4
Anthony Zambrano 1
Matthew Webster 2
Soufain Bensmail 3
Augie Cota 4
Peterson Firth 5
Kevin Jimenez 5
Charlie Liang 1
Emiliano Mendez 2
Shea Kuntz 3
Cooper Olson 4
Tyler Kavanaugh 5
Samuel Zoehrer 6
BOYS (12-14) FINAL  
Peter Stewart 1
Kiko Nelson 2
Jack Stewart 3
Liam Casey 4
Sam Nelson 5
Sean Carlin 6
Tiare Thompson 1
Madi Laski 2
Sydney Zoehrer 3
Gaby Robledo 4
Iliana Lopez 5
Jaden Stepowski 6
Mariana Valencia 1
Hanna Dunfee 2
Keanna Fowler 3
Jordan Alstad 4
Abigail Brownlee 5
Mercedes Zazueta 6
MEN (18+) FINAL  
Jay Christenson 1
Matt Beres 2
Jason Belgau 3
Sean Pearson 4
Kevin Whatley 5
Kevin Meza 6
Terry Gillard 1
Sean Malabanan 2
Jack Alldredge 3
Nichols Burns 4
Sam Nelson 5
Shawn Linquist 6
Shane Berchtold 1
Kiko Nelson 2
Jack Stewart 3
Jared Fearon 4
Peter Stewart 5
Lance Mann 6


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