Catalina Classic

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!

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

South Bay Paddle

There’s  new race in town….AND it’s an official qualifier for this year’s Catalina Classic Paddleboard race…it’s happening  Saturday, June 9th, at 7am, on the southside of Hermosa Beach Pier, it’s the 1st Annual South Bay Paddle, benefiting SBBC. This 15 mile paddle is an official qualifier for the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race. Register at www.paddleguru.com/races/thesouthbaypaddle

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