On Sunday, August 24th, 2014, paddlers from all over the United States will take to the waters off of Southern California in the 37th Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race, the premier and most historical paddleboard race in the world. Officially started in 1955 by Los Angeles County Lifeguard Bob Hogan, the first Catalina crossing was won in 1932 by Tom Blake, beating out Pete Peterson and Wally Burton in just under 6 hours. Legendary watermen such as Ricky Grigg, Mike Bright, Tom Zahn, Gregg Noll, Bob Hogan, Kemp Aaberg, Mike Doyle, George Downing, Joe Quigg, Mickey Munoz, Mike Eaton, Buzzy Kerbox, Joe Bark, Jamie Mitchell, and Laird Hamilton have helped make the Catalina Classic the preeminent waterman’s event of the year. Paddlers will leave Catalina Island at dawn and paddle 32 miles to the Manhattan Beach Pier on boards between 12 and 19 feet long, using only their hands to propel them through the water. Swells, Currents and wind conditions play into what is notoriously one of the most grueling endurance events in the world.
1928: Tom Blake wins first mainland surfing/paddleboard race on a 120-pound board and breaks every paddleboard record that previously existed.
1932: Tom Blake makes first ever Catalina crossing and beats out paddlers Pete Peterson and Wally Burton, going 29 miles in just under 6 hours.
Early 1950s: Marks an era of new paddlers and paddleboard design, and the legendary Taplin races between city and country lifeguards.
1955: Bob Hogan founds the International Paddleboard Competition from Catalina to Manhattan Beach Pier.
1961: The Catalina event is cancelled due to dangerous conditions and, following the death of chamber leader Bob Jean, the race goes into a period of hibernation for over almost 20 years.
1982: Gibby Gibson and Buddy Bohn revive the Catalina Race for a field of 10 competitors.
1982 – 2006: Steve Fairbrother, Tom Allen, Buddy Bohn, and Gibby Gibson continue to bring more competitors to the Catalina Classic and raise the awareness of the sport.
2006-2011: Six-time winner, Kyle Daniels takes leadership of the Catalina Classic.
2012-Present: Francziska Steagall becomes the Race Director of the Catalina Classic.
Unlimited 5:02:12 Tim Gair 1999
Stock 5:55:31 Gary Fortune 1999
The Catalina Classic Paddleboard race is held each year the weekend before Labor Day. This year the race will begin on August 24, 2014 at 6:00 a.m.