Catalina crossing “Ocean challenge” Sup race
Every year at the end of March, there is a race from Catalina island to Dana Point harbor (34 miles). The race starts in Avalon on the South end of Catalina and is open to OC 1’s OC 2’s surf skis and stand up paddler, with each contestant having a chase boat for safety. You could go solo or team. This year I wanted to paddle a 14′ ft hobie race board solo and found out that there were not enough people entered to make the 14′ ft class a strong running group, so I teamed up with Hobie team rider Byron Kurt on my old Hobie 18′ ft unlimited SUP race board instead.
The conditions were foggy with a 10 mph southerly wind and a combo swell from the South and the Northwest. The race started early Sunday morning in pretty calm textured conditions. As the race started, Byron pulled into the lead battling it out with another team for a good hour. We did our switches every 30 minutes to conserve energy, and keep a strong pace throughout the whole race. Jeff Alter from Hobie was our captain on a really nice luxury power boat that had a ton of room to relax and stay warm on when we did our changes.
As we got about 7 miles away from Catalina island, the South wind started to get really strong and churn up the water, making you have to paddle on the down wind side of your board 95% of the time. We paddled on one side for over 3 hours. Some teams were paddling towards the South and some towards the North, trying to get a good line to the Dana harbor. As it got rougher, we just kept focused and put the hammer down. I had some great tunes playing in my Ipod witch was in my H2O Audio case, making it easy to paddle with a fast stroke.
The last hour, got even rougher, but we had a good landmark to aim for, that put us right at the opening of the Dana harbor. As we hit the harbor enterance I switched with Byron and paddle the home stretch to victory. We set a new course record of 6 hours and 3o minutes.
It was a great race and congrats to all the competitors who braved the elements of the channel to make the crossing. Thanks to Jeff and hobie for a fun day of training….