Surf’s up! Charlie the yellow Labrador retriever wows crowds at California dog surfing championships as he drags his board into the water and rides the waves

  • This year’s event was held at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, 15 miles from the Bay
  • Charlie, a seven-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, travelled to this year’s competition with his owner Jeffrey Niebor from San Diego by car
  • He claimed second place in the large-to-very large dogs category behind a Pitbull
  • Judges rate performances on several factors: the length and duration of the ride, position and technique, size, courage, and intensity of waves
  • Dogs can surf in tandems: with another dog, on their own or with their owners

Charlie the Golden Retriever showed off his skills in front of a large crowd and other contestants at the World Dog Surfing Championships in California, as he dragged his board into the water and rode waves all on his own. 

This year’s event was held at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, 15 miles south of San Francisco, on August 6, where dogs from all kinds of breeds competed in different categories based on size and whether they are alone, riding with a person or another dog. 

Charlie, a seven-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, picked up surfing during his early days as a two-year-old puppy. He had traveled to this year’s championships with his owner, Jeffrey Niebor, from San Diego by car. 

He was cheered on by a crowd of at least 50 people prior to being called to compete for the category of large-to-very large dogs. The retriever then impressively dragged his surfboard into the water, before getting on it and catching as many waves as he can.

He ended up coming in second place and even managed to do a few spins during his cameo on the water. 

Charlie, a seven-year-old yellow Labrador retriever from San Diego, California, came in second place on Saturday in the large-to-very-large dogs category at the Dog Surfing Championships held in Pacficia, California. Pictured: Charlie dragging his board into the water from the beach by himself

With a bit of help from his owner, Jeffrey Niebor, Charlie managed to get on his surfboard and catch some big waves despite the cloudy weather 

OUR TIME TO SHINE: Charlie stands up on his four legs as his owner pushes his board deeper into the ocean water before riding several waves

Charlie’s owner said of his performance: ‘I’ve had other surfers tell me I’m the hardest working guy out there because Charlie likes… he won’t sit still. He gets so excited he doesn’t stay still.’

‘He’ll jump off the board, jump on the board, jump off the board. And his weight is definitely a factor for me because I’m not the youngest guy out there and he’s not the smallest dog out there, but together we work well.’ 

‘He knows what to do. And we do pretty good most of the time and we have a good time doing it,’ Neibor added.

Judges rate performances on several factors: the length and duration of the ride, position and technique, size, courage, and intensity of waves. 

Some dogs prefer to ride on surfboards while standing up on all four paws, while others prefer to crouch or to sit, leaning on their front two. However, Charlie stood up tall with no fear in mind. 

‘It started with a camping trip to the beach,’ Charlie’s owner, Jeffrey Niebor told The Dodo. ‘When Charlie was a puppy I pushed him around on some really small waves.’

THAT’S HOW ITS DONE: Charlie impressively caught a few waves and was still full of energy when he came back to shore

MINE: Charlie was offered help to bring his surfboard back to shore but the retriever ended up doing it all on his own

Charlie, who started surfing when he was two-years-old, came in second place at the event as a bulldog called Faith claimed top spot

The retriever loved it so much that the beach became his favorite spot to go and have fun, instead of staying at home and doing his usual activities, which involve napping on the couch, treats and getting petted. 

‘Once he started figuring out what to do, he was way into it, right off the bat,’ Niebor recalled. 

Charlie got used to surfing so quickly that its sometimes hard for his owner to keep up with his pace and intensity. 

‘If I have the board on the sand, I have to literally sit on it because he’ll grab it and take off,’ Niebor further said. 

Charlie’s owner said that’s when he decided to enroll his dog in dog surfing competitions, which usually raise funds for animal centers. 

The surf-loving retriever is no stranger to competition, as he made it to the finals the first two times he was signed up. 

He went on to win several prizes, even though he didn’t come up in first place on Saturday.

The World Dog Surfing Championships in Pacifica have several categories that dogs can compete in: surfing with another dog (pictured) , on their own or with their owners 

Faith, a Pitbull from Washington state (center, wearing goggles), claimed the top prize in the large-to-very large dog category

Owners and dogs from all across the country come to participate in the event, usually held in the San Francisco area. Pacifica is 15 miles south from the Bay Area

As a matter of fact, it was Skyler, an Australian cattle dog, who snatched the top prize, coming in first in the Top Dog Final Overall Championship. 

Faith, a Pitbull from Washington state, who competed in the large dog category came in second place.

‘It was amazing to see so many dogs come together and just surf. This is the first time I’ve seen dogs surf so it was really good, and I hope my dog will be inspired,’ said Prerani Rani, a dog owner from Santa Clara, California, who had just come to see the event.

Saturday’s surfing competition, labelled as the ‘premier dog surfing event in the world’, has been organized in the San Francisco area since 2006. It’s an opportunity for dogs to showcase their talents and to get adopted.

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