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Manhattan Beach Approves Catalina Classic Sculpture Near Pier

Nov 17, 2021 06:20PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The Manhattan Beach City Council has approved the gift of a sculpture honoring the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race, to be paid for and installed by the South Bay Boardriders Club. The sculpture will be installed just south of the Manhattan Beach Pier.

The sculpture has gone through several iterations on its road to approval. The final design calls for a life-size bronze sculpture of three paddle boards: one with a man standing upright, with a 16 foot paddle board standing vertically behind him; one with a woman on a 12 foot paddle board in a crouched active paddling position, arms extended; one with a man on a 12 foot paddle board in an active paddling motion, arms down.

This sculpture will sit on a concrete pedestal within reach for people to touch, stand with, and be photographed next to. A nearby plaque will list the names of the race winners, and will be updated as new winners are crowned.

The South Bay Boardriders Club, founded in 2009, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit volunteer-based community organization that undertook the initiative to create and install the lifesize bronze statue in the empty sand lot adjacent to the lower south parking lot of Manhattan Beach Pier, close to where the race finishes.

The South Bay Boardriders Club will pay just over $300,000 for the sculpture and the installation. There will be no financial commitment required from the city other than maintenance.

According to the SBBC, the statue is intended to commemorate all the women and men who have completed the race, honor a unique and iconic piece of history of Manhattan Beach, inspire girls and boys to consider the paddle, and beautify an area near the pier that currently is an eye sore.

Chris Barela, a 1977 graduate of Mira Costa High School, a Hermosa Beach Surfer Walk of Fame inductee, and an accomplished sculptor, has been commissioned to create and install the statue.

While the sculpture was under consideration, hundreds of local residents and community organizations had signed a petition voicing support for the Catalina Classic Commemorative Statue.

In planning for the sculpture, a total of 600 postcard surveys were sent out to home owners within 1000 feet of proposed project site. Twenty seven people answered the survey with 70% in support of the project and 30% opposed.

Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race

Established in 1955, the Catalina Classic paddleboard race is the oldest and most celebrated endurance race of its kind in the world. This historic 32-mile open ocean marathon, which starts at Catalina’s Isthmus Cove and ends at the Manhattan Beach Pier, attracts paddlers from all over the world and is known as the “granddaddy of all paddleboard races.”

Only prone paddleboards are allowed, meaning women and men paddlers have only their arms to propel them across the ocean. Finishers must complete the race within 9 hours or be disqualified.

The race drew up to 50,000 observers in its early years. It evolved into a 3-day event including 6-man volleyball, swimming, rowing, and other competitions now known as the International Surf Festival.

The modern-day Catalina Classic is organized and conducted by the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Association, Inc., a volunteer 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.

The current record is held by lifeguard Tim Gair, with a time of 5 hours 2 minutes he achieved in 1999.

This year's Catalina Classic paddleboarders faced extremely rough and grueling conditions. Of the 74 competitors who were able to finish, only two were able to complete the race in under 6 hours.

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