Kevin Cody

Neo classic Catalina Crossing restokes paddlers

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Kelly Zaun cheers Ricky Lesser as he performs traditional cannonball off the R10 buoy, which paddlers must round on the way to the Manhattan Beach pier. Photo by Jason Napolitano

by Kevin Cody

As with all water sports this summer, paddling started out badly with race cancellations, including the fabled 32 mile Catalina Classic  from Catalina Island to Manhattan Beach. Then the beaches were closed, blocking access to the ocean. By the time the beaches were reopened it was too late to obtain permits for races. But it wasn’t too late for paddles to organize informal workouts. So, what began with a few South Bay paddlers deciding on a fun Catalina Crossing  from Catalina to the Manhattan pier grew to a dozen. Those dozen inspired another dozen paddlers to form relay teams. The paddle was scheduled for the last Saturday in August, the traditional weekend for the Catalina Classic. Despite a forecast for strong headwinds and swells, Saturday morning at 6 a.m., the air was still and the water glassy and warm. 

Paddlers were surprised to find a calm conditions at the start of the Catalina Crossing. Photo by Ken Pagliaro

Joel Bloom completed the crossing for the first time, paced by four-time Catalina Classic winner Max First. Following the paddle, in an email to fellow padding enthusiast Scott Rusher, Bloom wrote, “I trained hard this year out of sheer love of the sport. No chance was I letting another year escape me without attempting it. I was beyond stoked to hear a few of you guys were putting this together. We all know the ominous conditions and forecast the afternoon prior, but you kept it on regardless and we all crushed it. That’s the kind of stuff that makes the community even more unique, and stronger. ER

Paddlers Don Miralle and Chris Russell finished first and second, despite being cut off by a freighter. Photo by Don Ruane

Photos by Ken Pagliaro

Photos by Mike Balzer

Photos by Jason Napolitano

Photos by Jamie Meistrell and Kelsey Clark



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