The Catalina Classic is a difficult race to recap (what, you’ve notice the delay?). I’ve never been able to write more than a few lines and post pictures–it’s just an enormous moment that comes down to strategy and performance. Throw in some foul weather and all bets are off–the race can quickly descend into a simple story of surviving with body in tact.
The 2014 Catalina Classic was, in a word, perfect. We had a veritable feast of glassy water, paddle-battles, dolphin, shark, whales, tanker drive-by, and, yes, PAIN.
Reno Caldwell’s new PR of 6:01 was a testament to both his preparation and his execution; he pushed when he needed to, stayed relaxed and happy, knee paddled with consistency and strength, and in the end put in what we all considered an inspired effort. It was a little bittersweet to come up a minute short of breaking six hours, but that’s just how it breaks. A special thanks to Tyler Resh, whose experience with going fast on a paddleboard made decision making that much more precise, and Mark Urkov, skipper of The Rough House. Mark’s focus on bringing out the best in paddlers is becoming something of a ‘thing’ among the paddling set–not to mention that he is one of the funniest guys around.
Was it hard not to be in the race this year? I thought so until about the 24-mile mark and then I watched as Suffering came to visit the faces of ALL of the paddlers that we passed. The final mile of the paddle is beyond words. Yes, there’s a crowd on the beach waiting, and boats and cheering, and even a number of photogs on pier, but there are so few paddlers who come in with the race written on their faces–a testimony to going up against your on mind and body for hour after hour. 2015 will come soon enough and I’ll be there, on the line or in a boat, because the channel keeps beckoning.