The Catalina Classic, the longest race of the paddleboard season, is this Sunday, August 26th. Always on the last Sunday of summer, the 32 mile race from the Catalina Isthmus to the Manhattan Beach pier attracts paddlers from around the world, including France, Australia, Hawaii, and the U.S.A’s East and West coasts.
Now in its 37th year, the Catalina Classic originated in 1955 when Bob Hogan along with Greg Noll, Ricky Grigg, Tommy Zahn and other surf pioneers decided to race their paddleboards from Catalina to the mainland. Since then, the race has seen some of the world’s greatest watermen compete, including Dale Velzy, Micky Munoz, Miki Dora, Laird Hamilton, Buzzy Kerbox, and Jaimie Mitchell.
The race kicks off at 6 a.m. at the Isthmus of Catalina, and racers finish anywhere from 5 to 9 hours after the start. They are expecting approximately 80+ paddlers to do the challenging trek, using only their arms to propel themselves through the water.
Some of this year’s noted paddlers include several winners from the sport’s most prestigious paddleboard competitions. Returning champions Sean Richardson and Adam Buckley will compete against each other in the Unlimited Division, and Women’s Stock Champion Jo Ambrosi from Australia will defend her title against the largest field of women’s paddlers ever assembled for the Catalina Classic.
Several paddlers have taken on the additional challenge of raising money for several non-profit organizations including Ocean of Hope, Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, and the ALS Association. Last year, paddlers generated over $100k to support these causes.