NOTE to our Catalina Classic Family;

The Catalina Classic mourns
The Passing of Legendary Waterman, Mike “Bones” Bright
11/3/1937 – 9/22/2017

Mike was a multiple record holder in the Catalina races of the 1950’s. He was winner of the Diamond Head race and numerous national and international paddleboard races. The legendary Tom Zahn claimed, “Bones” was the fastest paddler he’d every seen. Mike was a L.A. County Ocean Lifeguard and a top ocean athlete, dominating many lifeguard paddling events. He was a member of the USA lifeguard team invited to compete in the first International Surf Lifesaving Carnival, held in conjunction with the 1956 Melbourne, Australia, Olympic Games. Bones and fellow team members introduced the Aussies and the world to the modern balsawood and fiberglass surfboard, now called a Mal, slang for Malibu. This truly international exchange of equipment, training, competitive events, and organizational strategies advanced ocean life saving worldwide.

Mike’s athleticism went beyond his ocean skills. He was an All American Basketball player at Mira Costa High School and an Inductee into El Camino College’s “Basketball Hall of Fame”.

Bones is probably best remembered for his legendary volleyball skills. An All American from 1960-1964, he was a member of the USA National Volleyball team in 1960, competing at the World Championships in Brazil. In 1963 he earned a silver medal at the Pan Am Games. He was a two-time Volleyball Olympian, 1964 and 1968. In beach volleyball he competed in 44 Open Tournaments from 1958-1970. He was a 5-time winner of the Manhattan Beach Open, and is remembered with a plaque on the Manhattan Beach pier’s “Walk of Fame”. He was enshrined in the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 1993.

Mike grew up on Hermosa Beach’s 17th street and Strand. He and his young friends formed a club called the “17 th Street Surfing Seals”. Many of these young Seals grew up to be legendary Waterman, leaders in Lifeguarding, the Surfing Industry, boat building, the Dive Industry, law, local politics, and more. Mike and friends spent their time on the sand and sea, surfing and volleyball was a way of life. They lived what is now marketed as “The Beach Life Style”.

Mike was the owner of Malibu Divers dive shop and was an early advocate for the Scuba Diving Industry. Sadly, at the age of 37, he suffered a dive accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Confined to a wheelchair, he continued to work at his shop, swim, and coach volleyball. During his final years he lived with his daughter, Bonnie Bright Counts, in Vista, CA. In 2014, the Catalina Classic dedicated that year’s channel crossing to Mike, honoring the legacy of excellence he’d brought to our sport of paddling. Due to his declining health, he was unable to attend the 2014 race, but he did pass on his words of encouragement and appreciation for being honored.

Mike will not only be remembered for his amazing athletic achievements, but for his humility, sportsmanship, sense of humor, and humanity.

Our condolences go out to Mike’s four surviving children, Jodi, Lari, David and Bonnie, as well as his sister, Donna Bright Dobson.

A Paddle Out is planned for Saturday, October 28, 2017, 9:00 am Hermosa Pier.

Last year’s race was dedicated to the memory of Bob Hogan, a former LA County Lifeguard, who worked with the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce, to create the first Catalina to Manhattan International Paddleboard Race in 1955.

August 26, 2018 marks the 37th consecutive year running of the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race. The event is organized and conducted by the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Association, Inc., a volunteer 501c4 non-profit organization. The Association promotes a traditional and original paddleboard race from Catalina Island to the pier of Manhattan Beach, California. Established in 1955, the Catalina Classic is the oldest and most celebrated endurance paddleboard race in the world. This historic 32-mile marathon, which starts at Catalina’s Isthmus cove and ends at the Manhattan Beach Pier; attracts paddlers from all over the world and is known as the “Grand-Daddy of all paddleboard races.” This is a race by paddlers for paddlers.

The Catalina Classic Paddleboard Association makes donations to local non-profit organizations that work with youth groups, education and water safety. Past recipients include the L.A. County Jr. Lifeguard Scholarship Fund, The Round House Aquarium, Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, The Lanterman Fund, ECF Kayne Eras Center and 1% for the planet.

Many of the paddlers also utilize the Catalina Classic to raise money and awareness for their favorite charities, including:

  • The Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, with the US Marine Corps relay team from Wounded Warriors Battalion-West
  • The Ocean of Hope Campaign for the Sarcoma Alliance

We are also proudly supported by Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association.


Our Sponsors

Beach Sport
Dive N Surf
Body Glove
Read our history

Every year, the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Association makes donations to local non-profits, that have included: 1% for the planet, Los Angeles County Junior Lifeguard Scholarship Fund, MB Roundhouse Aquarium, Jimmy Miller Foundation, Ocean of Hope, the Lanterman Fund, YMCA and ECF Kayne Eras Center.

Read our history