Council loves Classic concept, but balks at cost

A scale model of the Catalina Classic sculpture. The actual figures would be lifesize, with a 17-foot tall paddleboard. Photo by JP Cordero

Hoping to elist city financial support for a sculpture commemorating the Catalina Classic Paddleboard race are South Bay Boardrider Club members Michael Lee, Ed McKeegan, DJ Wilson, Tom Horton and Brian Kingston. Photos by JP Cordero

A request for $350,000 to help fund a lifesize sculpture of three paddleboarders at the Manhattan Beach pier received a guarded reception from the city council during Tuesday evening’s meeting.

The money would come from the Public Art Trust, which is funded by a city fee on new construction. The request was submitted by the South Bay Boardriders Club (SBBC), which received conceptual approval for the sculpture from the council in Dec. 2018. 

A two-foot tall, scale model of the proposed bronze sculpture, shown to the council Tuesday night, depicts a male paddler standing in front of an upright, 18-foot-tall paddleboard, flanked by male and female knee paddlers. The sculpture would be located at the south end of the pier parking lot. The area is presently barren, except for an industrial-size trash bin.

The statue would celebrate the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race, which was founded in Manhattan Beach in 1955 and is held annually on the last Sunday in August. The 32-mile race begins at Two Harbors on Catalina Island and ends at the Manhattan Pier.

A scale model of the Catalina Classic sculpture. The actual figures would be lifesize, with a 17-foot tall paddleboard. Photo by JP Cordero


The sculpture’s design by SBBC member Brian Kingston, is modeled after the iconic statue of Duke Kahanamoku, standing in front of his surfboard at Waikiki Beach, in Hawaii. Chris Barela, a former professional surfer from Hermosa Beach, has been commissioned by the club to sculpt the figures. Barela sculpted the lifesize statues of legendary twin watermen Bob and Bill Meistrell, at the Seaside Lagoon in Redondo Beach. He also recast the Tim Kelly statue at the Hermosa Beach pier head.

Heal the Bay chairperson Craig Cadwallader urged the council to approve the expenditure. “Neighboring cities have statues celebrating water sports and this one is significantly nicer and in keeping with Manhattan Beach spirit,” he said.

SBBC president Tom Horton told the council the club would raise funds to cover the $250,00 in expenses for preparation of the site, including grading, landscaping and concrete work.

Club member Ed McKeegan told the council the club has already raised approximately $150,000 for the site preparation. 

Though councilmembers expressed continued support for the concept, they also expressed concern about the cost. Following a lengthy discussion, the council referred the funding request to a council subcommittee and indicated it will seek further input from the Cultural Arts Commission. ER


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