History of the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Marathon Race

Legendary Waterman Mike Doyle

 

 

 

 

 

The Catalina Classic family will be dedicating our 2019 race this year to legendary waterman, Mike Doyle.

Mike Doyle was a true waterman in every way… and a really nice guy too!

Mike paddled the Classic in 1960. He was a extraordinary surfer, paddler, Lifeguard, artist, and all around lover of life. Mike inspired so many people to live their lives to the fullest. Our hearts go out to Annie and the rest of the Doyle family and friends.

This year, paddler Tom Horton, will be fundraising and paddling to raise awareness of the devastating affects of ALS.

There will be ” Live to Surf, Surf to Live” T-shirts for sale at the finish line. All proceeds from these T-shirts will go towards defeating ALS. A paddle out is scheduled at the Hermosa Beach Pier on October 20th at 10:30am.  Please contact Tom to see how you can get involved. tom@southbayboardriders.com

 

Paddling In The Wake of Giants

1981 began the rebirth of the International Catalina Channel Paddleboard Race. The Manhattan Beach Chamber Of Commerce Executive, Trudy Smart, gave the original race bylaws and articles of incorporation( from the International Catalina Channel Paddleboard Race) to lifeguard lieutenant Buddy Bohn. Bohn consulted with many of the past competitors and current ocean Lifeguards and ocean athletes. After much encouragement, Lt. Bohn partnered with fellow Ocean Lifeguard and friend, Weldon Gibby Gibson, who had actually competed in the original races. Together they approached the LA County Lifeguard Association Trust Fund for their support and endorsement. All parties decided that the event should be attempted the summer of 1982. All agreed that the new bylaws, rules, and articles of incorporation should be as close to the originals as possible. They would call it what they all felt it was, The Catalina Classic Paddleboard Marathon

The paddle from Catalina to the Manhattan Beach Pier had not been officially attempted in twenty years, and much had changed since 1960. Several paddlers of that period made themselves available and the Lifeguards formed a committee of volunteers to begin the organization. Safety being the number one priority, the committee consulted with our ocean athletes that had been racing the channel during those previous twenty years. The Catalina Channel Swimming Federation was one such group and the National Dory Association was another. Their input was vital, with regard to escort support, communications, navigation, advanced life support, and general organization. The Swimming Federation’s format was the closest fit to the original paddles. The Dory Association’s race was really an annual lifeguard event with a two person crew rowing from Catalina’s Isthmus to Palos Verdes. The Catalina channel Dory race at that time was a male dominated event, but there were a few female Lifeguards getting on board. The channel swimmers format consisted of one solo swimmer at a time, challenging the channel, and required that an escort be present. Some of their event distances exceeded our 32 mile course. The Channel swimmers were only limited by age, minors needed parental consent. We knew many of the men and women swimmers and their trainers. Many of our Lifeguards and paddlers had paddled as support for these brave swimmers.

The Catalina Classic Paddleboard committee decided that entrees younger than 18 needed parental consent. There would be no age groups or distinction of gender. It was felt that if you could meet the qualifications for entry you could paddle. Our focus was on racing the channel first, and competing against the other paddlers was second.

The rules were eventually updated, stock boards would go from 14 feet to 12 feet with a 20 pound minimum weight. The original course would be the same, required escort same, not touching or being aided by anyone or craft, the same, no age or gender categories. This was the “Classic”.

The core values were focused on , “let’s keep this original, we are paddling in the wake of giants, it’s the Catalina Classic”.  At the end of August in 1982, 10 paddlers and their crews met at the Isthmus cove. They were briefed by some of the former paddler/Lifeguards, pitched their tents, and tried to sleep a few hours before the 6:00 a.m. start. The crossing was a success and a new kind of aquatic camaraderie was established between the women & men who paddled it together that day. All the paddlers were really supportive of each other’s achievements.

“Winning “ was really secondary, the feeling was that we’d CONQUERED the Catalina Channel. The race had been reborn. Our paddling camaraderie is alive to this day!