At Riding Bumps we have a lot of experience with the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race. Roch Frey completed the race twice but trains with and coaches several NCP members that have participated in the Classic numerous time over the years. There is one constant with The Catalina Classic – participants have to deal with some crazy logistics if they want to get to the start line.
Spots on the start line for the Catalina Classic are limited. If you are confused about how to get in – you are in good company. The reason is that the application process is not always clear and changes from year to year. Here goes.
Based on the 2016 race details (which can be found on the website (www.catalinaclassicpaddleboardrace.org) and how things went down in real time, your first order of business is that you are going to have register for the race. The registration announcement happens in the spring and is posted on the Catalina Facebook page and or website. In 2016 the entry deadline was May 30th. Registering for the race, however, does not mean that you will get in.
Your second order of business will be to complete a qualifying race. The problem is that most of the qualifying races happen after registration. This means that even if you do a qualifying race that doesn’t mean you will get into Catalina. The three qualifying races last year were the Loop (May), Jay Race (June) Rock 2 Rock (June).
Your third order of business is to wait and see. The final start list will go out in July (last year that happened on July 10th and was posted on the FB page) when you find out if you get in or not.
Al of that is straightforward right? Well, the problem is that while you are waiting to see if you got and and you are training to complete your qualifier races, you are going to need to start your preparations for the race even though you might not get in. That includes finding accommodations, and getting an escort boat. If you are seriously planning on doing the race, you should start looking for an escort boat early spring because it can be difficult to find a support boat. Moreover, there is very little assistance from the event organizers (1) Once you have secured an escort boat you will need to arrange with your boat captain to take your board over to the island the day before as well check with him/her if you can get a lift as well. If not the ferry is the best/easiest bet.
As far as accommodations go – they are limited. The only hotel (The Banning House) has only a dozen or so rooms and is usually booked a year out. You can camp which is about ½ mile walk from the start or see if you can sleep on your captains boat. Either way it is not a good sleep the night before so prepare for this.
1. If you are looking for a support boat, your best bet is to start talking to people who have boats or who have done the race and see if you can get a lead. Check directly with Joe Bark as he knows everyone in the sport and many times knows of people with boats that are willing to escort. You night also post on the Classic FB page stating that you are in need of a support boat. $500+ is not unreasonable to expect to pay for an escort boat.