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Veteran Racers Triumph at Catalina Classic Paddleboarder Race

Aug 29, 2022 08:11AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Ninety-nine paddleboarders started - and finished - the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race on Sunday, with familiar names coming out on top.

Paddlers left the Isthmus cove on Catalina Island at 6:00 a.m. and paddled 32 miles to the Manhattan Beach Pier on paddle boards (between 12 and 19 feet long), using only their hands to propel them through the water.

In the Unlimited category, Max First of Hawthorne (last year's second place winner) arrived in first place in a time of 5:26:05. He was followed by Alex Merrill of Seal Beach (5:29:09) and Scott Clausen of Seal Beach (5:31:41) (last year's first place winner).

Kyle Smith of Encinitas came in first in the Stock category (6:05:03), followed by Don Miralle of Leucadia (6:07:59) and Quincy Lee of Redondo Beach (6:08:41).

On the women's side, last year's winner Liz Hunter of Oceanside returned to win the race again in a time of 6:30:46. She was followed by Tiana Pugliese of Redondo Beach (6:39:34) and Christina Boring of Ventura (6:54:34). All of the women raced in the Stock class.

Paddlers Jon Loren of San Diego and John Carroll of Gardena both marked their 20th Catalina Classic this year. Carroll and Mike Avery of Ventura, both age 68, were the oldest two finishers in the race. This year's youngest competitor was Luke Wheeler of Newport Beach, age 16.

Conditions were better than last year's rough waters, when only 74 out of 88 paddlers were able to finish the race.

Catalina Classic History

This historic 32-mile Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race, 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 “grand-daddy of all paddleboard races.”  Many legendary watermen and water women have taken the challenge and have helped make the Catalina Classic the pre-eminent waterman’s event of the year.

The first paddle board crossing to the Catalina Channel was done in 1932 by Pete Peterson, Wally Burton, and Tom Blake. The race was motivated by Tom’s desire to promote his new paddle board design.

The race officially began in 1955 with Los Angeles County Lifeguard Bob Hogan and members of the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce. The race became an annual tradition, but was canceled in 1959 due to pier construction and in 1961 due to ocean conditions.

The race then went into "hibernation" for two decades, until it was re-started in 1982, riding a new wave of popularity for the sport of paddleboarding.

It was once again put on hold in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic before resuming in 2021.

The Catalina Classic is organized and conducted by the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Association, Inc., a volunteer 501c4 non-profit organization.

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