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September 13, 2016

Epic Surf and a Record Turnout for the 13th Annual Dempsey Holder Ocean Festival and Surf Contest

Press Release
Photo by Kenneth Johnson, Duke of Murl

Imperial Beach, September 13. Large surf and a record number of competitors marked the 13th Annual WILDCOAST Dempsey Holder Ocean Festival and Surf Contest that took place on Saturday, September 10 in Imperial Beach. “This was the best Dempsey yet,” said contest director Zach Plopper of WILDCOAST. “A huge crowd, incredible surfing, great weather, and and the waves were going off!”

The level of surfing at this year’s Dempsey in the consistent 4-6’ southern hemisphere swell, was unprecedented. Competitors from California, Mexico and South America enjoyed the ultra hollow lefts north of the Imperial Beach Pier. WILDCOAST Executive Director and Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina was ecstatic about the professional caliber surfing in the men, women and junior divisions. “It was incredible to see the talent these surfers have developed over the years. This was the pinnacle of performance at the Dempsey so far!” The Dempsey was also the second surf contest of the binational Baja Bound Surf Series, with contests at San Miguel in Ensenada, Rosarito Beach and Imperial Beach.

An important element of the Dempsey is the participation of children from the U.S. and Mexico. This year more than 75 local junior and menehune surfers competed in the Dempsey free of charge courtesy of generous sponsors and contributors.  Four local junior surfers also took home beautiful custom surfboards by Jay Novak Surfboard Designs of Imperial Beach in an opportunity drawing.

Surfing standouts included Thiare Thompson, who took top honors in the Women’s and Jr. Women’s divisions as well as Ana Laura Gonzalez, who was a runner-up to Thiare in both divisions.  Alan Cleland, won both the Boys and Jr. Men divisions. Sam and Kiko Nelson of Laguna Beach, also made finals in both the Boys and Jr. Men divisions. Longtime Imperial Beach surfer Cameron Bartz won a stacked final in the Open Mens Division and  Imperial Beach’s Anthony Zombrano won the bodyboard division. 

While there was a lot of high energy surfing in the water, the beach was buzzing with activity. Over 120 local residents wrote letters to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting his help in stopping sewage spills on the US-Mexico border. “The Dempsey is not only a fundraiser for WILDCOAST, “ said Plopper, “but an important event for advocating for cleaning up our coast and ocean.”

The 2016 Dempsey Holder Ocean Festival would not have been possible without the support of volunteers and of course the event sponsors.  WILDCOAST would like to thank the County of San Diego, Unified Port of San Diego, BajaBound, United Athletes of the Pacific Ocean, Da Kine, Jay Novak Surfboard Designs, Emerald City, Pacifica Companies, CowaBunga, Pier South, C-180, Oakley, SurfHut,  The Surfers Journal, Jolyn, K-Pasta, d’ames. Philippes, Naked Viking Surf and Kind Bars.

WILDCOAST is an international conservation team that conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife. For more information visit

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Complete 2016 Dempsey Results


1st Ron Smith

2nd David Parra

3rd Pat McCloskey

4th Mike Mross

5th Ron Murray



1st Sean Fowler

2nd Russell McClanan

3rd Ed Custodio

4th Jaime Tuckey

5th Bryan Guter

6th George Kindley



1st Craig Macia

2nd Memo Mendez

3rd Bob Bauer

4th Billy Hudleston

5th Robert Glick

6th Jorge McFarland



1ST Cameron Bartz

2nd Matt King

3rd Jay Christiansen

4th Kevin Meza

5th Daniel Dedina

6th Gary Trischman



1st Tiare Thompson

2nd Ana Laura Gonzalez

3rd Breanne Custodio

4th Dari Rose Hill

5th Paloma Lencioni

6th Beth Anne Wishbow



1st Jack Beresford

2nd Sam Coyne

3rd Henry Laufenberg

4th Casey Patelski

5th Brad Colwell



1st Alan Cleland

2nd Tanner Ford

3rd Dakota Hooker

4th Kiko Nelson

5th Jared Fearon

6th Sam Nelson



1st Russel McClanan

2nd David Morales

3rd Sidney Zoehner

4th Nick Burns

5th Lincoln Horton

6th Sammy Rahm



1st Evon Rios McCay

2nd Emiliano Mendez

3rd Tucker Stevens

4th Jake Lovato

5th Isaiah Sagredo

6th Kalany Appel



1st Hannah Dunsee

2nd Mariana Valenda

3rd Marianna Dick

4th Keanna Fowler

5th Keala Bradley

6th Jesse Hill



1st Alan Cleland

2nd Kiko Nelson

3rd Sam Nelson

4th Peter Stewart

5th Jack Stewart

6th Sammy Rahm



1st Tiare Thompson

2nd Ana Laura Gonzalez

3rd Iliana Lopez

4th Hannah Dunsee

5th Jordan Alstad

6th Lily Barraza



1st Anthony Zambrano

2nd Wally Sani

3rd Augie Cota

4th Peterson Fritz

5th Chris Bragg