Catalina Classic Paddleboard 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.


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!

Catalina Classic Race Dedications

Over the years, the paddling community has been inspired by so many extraordinary paddlers.

We have been honored to have had most all of them race in the Catalina Classic.

They are as follows:

Year dedicated:

1999:  Brendan Sullivan

200?:  Tom Zahn








2004:  Jimmy Miller








2007: Gibby Gibson


2009:  Jeff Johnson


2013:  Bob Meistrell

Bob & Bill Meistrell










2014:  Mike ” Bones” Bright

2015:  Mike Eaton









2016:  Bob Hogan

Bob Hogan the original founder of the Catalina Classic in 1955.

















2019 Catalina Classic Registration Opens April 1, 2019

 April Fooling aside, registration opens April 1st, 2019, for this year’s Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race!

As in year’s past, if you completed last year’s race (2018) within 9 hours, you will Not need to re-qualify, but you WILL need to registration and pay by May 31st, 2019.

If you did NOT race last year, you WILL need to register as a non-qualified paddler by May 31st and complete at least one qualifying race. Details are listed on our website.

So, start looking for your escort boat & crew….. they can make all the difference in having a successful race!

We’re looking forward to another challenging, fun, & safe race.

See you on the water & keep paddling

Congratulations to the 2018 Finishers!

Catalina Classic Paddler,

Congratulations on your 2018 channel crossing!

You have joined an elite group of paddlers who have challenged themselves and accomplished this incredible feat since 1955.

This year we had 90 paddlers start, 90 paddlers finish, with much better conditions than last year

We hope you are stoked on your finish and look forward to having you race again at next year’s Classic on Sunday, August 25th, 2019.

Stay tuned to our website for future race updates.

Yours in paddling,  The Catalina Classic Committee

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.


All Time Conditions Make for a Fast Race

Buddy Bohn summed it up best by calling it one of the top five years he’s seen for overall weather and ocean conditions at this year’s Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race.  For those who don’t know, Buddy Bohn has been at every race for the last 31 years – since it’s reincarnation from the 20 year hiatus during the 60’s and 70’s.  And it’s no wonder that a record fell as the ever-so-humble Kelsey O’Donnell broke “Queen” Reen Corbet’s record for the fastest women’s time – a record that stood for 20 years.  The overall stock record was in jeopardy as Steve Shlens was only seconds away from breaking Gary Fortune’s 1999 stock record.

This year’s overall champion was 2010 Champ Adam Buckley, who was on the verge of not racing in early August but fortunately had a change of heart and entered this year’s race with his wedding just a few weeks away.  Good thing he did because Bud Light ponied up Caribbean cruises for the top finishers.  In addition to Bud Light’s prize, Joe Bark shaped beautiful 10′ guns for each winner, Maui Jim awarded prizes to the top finishers in each field, DaKine sent the top 3 in each class home with travel bags, and Vertra Element Protection is making sure those top finishers are well protected for their intense training with sunblock packages.

Finishing is the ultimate prize for all the racers, whether first or back of the pack.  This year was special as everyone who entered completed the race in well under the 9 hour cut-off.  In fact, this  year all paddlers made it to the finish line for the annual photo – a first in recent race history.

The race committee would like to thank all the volunteers that make this race happen, all the sponsors that help make this race affordable, and all the paddlers for another great year.  Finally, a special thanks goes out to Body Glove and the Meistrel family for their years of continued support and for outfitting all the paddlers in killer trunks and surf shirts again this year.  Complete results and photos will be posted later this week but for now the top finishers are listed below.  Congrats again to all paddlers!

Unlimited: 1 – Adam Buckley; 2- Sean Richardson; 3- Donald Mirale; 4 – Tod Robinson

Stock: 1 – Steve Schlens; 2 – Rodney Ellis; 3 – Jack Bark; 4 – Jay Scheckman

Women: 1 -Kelsey O’Donnell; 2 – DJ O’Brien