This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to take part in my first Catalina Classic: 32 miles from Two Harbors in the north of Catalina Island, past the R10 Buoy at Palos Verdes, and finishing at the Manhattan Beach Pier. The entire experience changed my life. I’m not the same person who stepped into the dark, cold water of Isthmus Cove, nor the broken man that stumbled ashore just south of the Manhattan Beach pier. I’m something very different. I’m still emotional about it. I broke out there. I broke down to the cellular level and yet somehow, ended up with sand in my pockets, too tired to hug my buddy, but not too tired to give a painful nod and smile.
It started in 2013 with this video from Chris Aguilar and Fin Film Company
I watched this short film over and over and remember thinking how much I wanted to be a part of it—Something so magical. A quest. A challenge. A tradition. To be part of a family. The segment on Joe Bark’s 30th was a tipping point. His was a story of persistence, of showing up every day, of punching the clock for something you believe in. I craved to cross the channel. I began training.
We made the call
After the Carolina Cup, James Bain, owner of Epic Food Company and I were wondering what was next. We were both thinking about the Catalina Classic and we decided to call Joe Bark to ask a few questions. The conversation went something like this:
“Hi Joe! It’s John Beausang from Carolina, How are you? Hey look, James and I are wondering about Catalina and wanted to see if we could ask you a few questions if you have time.”
“Catalina!? You’re doing it. It’s settled. I’ll find you boards. All you need to do is register, use me as a reference, and get boat captains and it’s done!”
“Yeah. It’s done. I know you two can do the distance. Just take care of the boat and registration. Bring a sleeping bag and a pillow. It’s done. Just go register.”
“I was just…”
“Give me a call after you get your boat captain. Boy, you guys are going to love it. It’s an amazing experience. Ok. I gotta go. Talk to you later.”
Joe hung up.
I called James and said simply, “I think we’re doing Catalina. It’s done.” I sat in silence for a moment. James did, too. Then I got online.
We got a tip to post a note on Bloody Decks, a fishing forum and in an hour, we’d found two experienced captains and registered for the event. If that wasn’t meant to be, I’m not sure what is. They say the whole world conspires to help you when you’re on the right path, but it was kind of ridiculous.
A little backgrund: Catalina Classic 101—Blame Blake
The Catalina Classic officially began in 1955. However, when I asked someone at the awards ceremony why they chose Manhattan Beach rather than just paddling a fun downwinder to Dana Point, they laughed and said, “Blame Tom Blake.”
According to the Catalina Classic website (see history), Tom Blake made the first ever Catalina crossing in 1932, beating out paddlers Pete Peterson and Wally Burton. He went 29 miles in just under 6 hours. It wasn’t until 1955, when Bob Hogan founds the International Paddleboard Competition from Catalina to Manhattan Beach Pier that the Catalina Classic is officially born. It lasted 5 years at which time it went into a 20 year slumber until it was revived in 1982 by Gibby Gibson and Buddy Bohn. It has been growing steadily ever since. This year, a record 115 paddlers signed up for the quest and 102 began the journey across. The race has been passed from paddler to paddler, family to family and is truly a grassroots event run by paddlers, for paddlers. It’s like joining a family.
As I mentioned, we registered and had boat captains. Now the prep began. I contacted Mick DiBetta. He sent me a training program that I didn’t expect. Intervals. Strength program. Nutrition advice. It’s no wonder so many top finishers train with Mick and Paddle Power Trainer. As the first winner of the M2O, he knows his stuff. I stuck to the program as much as I could, but ended up having to adapt it to my travel schedule. Still, it changed the way I looked at training for an endurance race.
I had the Carolina Cup Graveyard and Key West Classic under my belt, but had a long way to go. You have to eat an elephant one bite at a time. And each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I woke at 4:30 to eat and prepare for my 5:30am paddles with my training buddy Dave. We hit it. Day in and day out. Strength training and beach running, yoga. We kept it fresh, but mostly, we kept on it.
James usually hit it in the middle of the day, in the hot Carolina sun. I was a dawn patroler. We didn’t train together because of our schedules and the fact that James dusts me. But we spoke if not daily about it, at least every other day. What are you eating? How are you swapping out bottles on long paddles?
In the end, we both had long paddles. James circumnavigated Masonboro Island on the hottest day of the year and paddled from Wrightsville Beach to Topsail Island. I raced in the 16.5 mile Cape to Cape Crossing between Lewes Delaware and Cape May, NJ and did a double Graveyard. While all our paddling helped us prepare, nothing prepared us for what would come in California.
The Journey to Catalina Island
We traveled from Wilmington, NC to Wilmington, California on Thursday before the race. Ironic? Maybe. We had one last night on the mainland to rest up and prepare. I as almost too nervous to sleep. Sirens and burners woke me from my shallow sleep. Anxiety dreams and disorientation from a strange hotel balanced out the discomfort.
In the morning, we Uber-ed to Whole Foods to fill up our cooler with just-in-case provisions then headed to the ferry. We knew so little about what the restaurant would be like, if we’d have what we needed. No one else seemed worried, so we didn’t openly question it. But deep down, we both feared waking up before the race without having eaten the food we’d had at home during training.
We crossed onto the boat with dozens of backpackers, many of which carried un-slinged spearguns. The ferry was stacked with coolers and provisions. We sat there, looking the part of the slackjawed tourist, listening to conversations in Russian, Spanish, Japanese. We took pictures out the window. Pointed at waves and swell direction. The anticipation built.
Looking over the bow, we saw Catalina for the first time. Catalina is a dusty rock that juts out of the Pacific Ocean 22 miles SSW of Los Angeles. It’s 22 miles (35 km) long and 8 miles (13 km) across at its greatest width and is the only one of the eight Channel Islands archipelago with a significant permanent civilian settlement. There is the larger town of Avalon to the south, and Two Harbors in the north (good article). In Two Harbors, there is one store, one restaurant, and one hotel.
The closer we got, the farther it stayed. This wasn’t boding well. That feeling wasn’t lost on us. Anxiety hedged by excitement. The thing that struck us most was the color of the water—the deep translucent blue, 1500 feet deep, filled with life. Whales, seals, and a huge Mako Shark greeted us mid-channel. It’s old, deep, haunting. It’s solid. In North Carolina, the barrier islands are constantly shifting. Sands fill inlets and create new ones. Every day is different. However, in the Pacific, the island grows from beneath, from the earth. It’s strong. The Pacific seems to have a love/hate relationship with the island, each holding their ground. Whereas the Atlantic just moves sand wherever it wants, oblivious to whatever stands on top. it was a vibe. A different vibe. And it was palpable.
Two Harbors, Catalina Island
Two Harbors is a delightful circus. We stared at the beehive of aquatic activity. People loaded and unloaded the ferry and their boats. Incoming and outgoing boat traffic with a mixture of competent seamen and weekend idiots resulting in a ballet of near misses. We watched a 24-foot Boston Whaler t-bone the bulkhead while swarms of dinghys made for the floating dock.
“He’s coming in Hot!” James said as a dinghy collided with the floating dock, whiplashing an oblivious, inebriated passenger, who popped up and unloaded her boat. Another passenger nearly feel in head-first between the outboard (which was on) and the dock. No one died during the show. We could have stood there for hours, but it was time to check into the Banning House at the top of the hill.
Don’t pet the Buffalo. Don’t take selfies with Rattlesnakes.
The Banning House is a Bed & Breakfast booked a year in advance with limited rooms, but unlimited charm. It reminded us both of an old western movie set with mountain goats, Buffalo and Antelope mounted on the walls. Lots of wood and leaded glass. Huge, ancient wood beams. There was a constant breeze and it was quiet. Not a television in sight.
The week before, someone got gored by a Buffalo (article here). They were taking photos and suffered a punctured lung. The Banning House staff gave us a warning not to approach Buffalo. They also told us to listen for rattlesnakes—the sound was something like a sprinkler. How anyone in California knows what a sprinkler sounds like is beyond me, but we got the message. We’d also read that someone in Texas died because he tried to take a selfie with a rattlesnake that week. The lesson: No selfies with Buffalos or rattlesnakes.
The Boards Arrive
When the boards started arriving, things really started to get exciting. 16-foot boats stacked with 18-foot boards. Rigid inflatables (RIBs) with their electronics, sailboats and fishing boats. All with boards and paddlers.
There were two areas of the lawn that were roped off between the restaurant and bar and the showers.
There was one board on Friday, but by Saturday night, it was packed. I’d never seen so many boards. it was dominated by custom Barks, but there were also boards by King’s, Richmond, NCP, and Eaton. Stripes and polka dots, solid black carbon and pure white. There were so many setups with bottle cages and headrests. We simply don’t see this many paddleboards in one place at one time on the East Coast. That may soon change.
When our boards arrived atop Joe Bark’s boat, we were ecstatic. it was real. REAL REAL. I had a loaner stock Surftech Bark Commander Pro Elite, fresh and clean with a warning sticker and everything. It had handles. I was so stoked and couldn’t wait to put the fin and bottle cage in, pop a bottle in and get acquainted. I’d paddled the stock production board since May feeling that it would make me faster when I got on a bigger board, but I’m not a big guy and it just fit me. We understood each other. Once I got used to it, I realized I could count on paddling exactly what I was used to when I got out to California. James bought a16’6″ board from Joe that Joe had made for himself. James and Joe are about the same height and weight, so when Joe said he had a similar one there that James could borrow, he was also set.
The Racers Meeting
At the racers meeting, I was surrounded by confident silence. There were so many people I’d seen in photos, on posters, magazines and videos. And as intimidated as I was, I was consistently met with a genuine handshake and a huge smile. This is a quiet group. There aren’t a lot of chest pounders before or after. But there’s a warmth that is hidden behind a rugged shroud. Perhaps it’s that lifeguard thing. There is a strong sense of Ohana. And while I hadn’t paddled across yet, I felt a part of those who’d at least made the commitment to try.
When they finished the dedication to Mike Eaton, it felt as if someone had popped the top off a boiling kettle. It had the feel of a family reunion. Hugs and handshakes. Smiles and back slapping. The Redondo Rocket whirled and joked. Beers cracked as they weighed the stock boards, adding a pound here and a pound there to make the 20 pound minimum. In the background they all knew what I had yet to learn, we were about to go up against a leviathan.
These were tough people. Dusty nods and knowing looks. These people who knew pain. Some were super gnarly, like a division one swimmer had a lovechild with an Alaskan Crab Fisherman. Tall and lanky, broad shoulders and that swimmer’s, but tough, huge hands like Iron. The women weren’t rough, but they were beautifully athletic, with strong shoulders, and still tough with nicknames like “Arms.” 500 horsepower packed into 125 pound bodies.
At 6’2″ James is usually one of the tallest people in the room. “I feel short here. Everyone’s tall and have long arms.” James laughed as we walked through the crowds of competitors waiting for check in. Jack Bark may have the longest arms on the water. Granted, there were a few of us T-rex’s there, but looking around, it was obvious that these people were built for this, almost bred for this. It wouldn’t be until I reached land that I’d realized that it’s also a mental trait. A defective gene that sadistically pushes a certain type of person beyond their limits for hours.
The night before
James and I had a great meal at the restaurant with my buddy Chris Aguilar and his wonderful girlfriend Alli before retiring early to the room. We packed everything up but our food and our nutrition and headed for yet another fitful nights sleep. It was almost too quiet, even with the wind howling 30 knots. Oh. The wind. Did I mention it was blowing 30 knots? Well it was and it kept blowing all night. In the back of our minds we knew we were going to be in for a long day. I went to sleep very excited and anxious. I didn’t want to eat too late, forget a fin screw, leave something in the room. In 10 hours, I was going to be on the water regardless and none of this would matter.
The siren sings in acapella and sends us into the depths with an air horn
102 paddlers stood in thigh-high cold dark water along the Isthmus Cove. I looked out at the hundred or so boats moored between us and Ship (or Shit) Rock. “Are you going left or right of that boat?” Smiley asked me. “Because if I go left and you go right, we’ll hit.” I stepped forward and jumped out of my skin. Something squishy slid out from beneath my foot. “Left. Yes. I’ll go left. Does that work?” He nodded. I asked the same to the paddler on my left. He said he’d make room for me on his right. He was going left, too. Someone sang the National Anthem Acapella in the darkness. There was something vulnerable yet raw about his voice under the full moon. It was our siren song pulling us into the water. When he finished, I said, “play ball.” and everyone acted as if the horn was going to go off. Instead, “6 minutes to the start.” There was a line-long groan. The time ticked down. 1 minute. 30 seconds. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 HORN!
We leapt into the abysss, willingly and with smiles upon our faces. Cheering and splashing, riding bumps and washes through the boats, avoiding anchor lines and headed out for Ship Rock.
Our safety boats would each find us some time after Ship Rock. My Captain, Russell Moore, had planned to meet us sometime in the first hour, but told us not to worry if we didn’t see him right away. I wasn’t worried. I was too blown away by what was transpiring to worry.
As I paddled through the boats, someone said, “remember John, this is a marathon, not a sprint.” I backed off a little bit. I was already above my target cadence and just took it all in. At ship rock, I took a minute to take it all in. The full moon was to my left and the rising sun was to my right. There were paddlers everywhere… everywhere but behind me. I looked around desperately for anyone, but realized I was the last one out of the harbor. My first negative thought. “I’m in last place already.” This blew my mind because I had been telling myself for months that there was only one person in that race for me and that I just needed to get to the other side. I was going to be a finisher, not a competitor. Still, my mind was awake and ready to mess with me.
I set my pace and got int a rhythm, catching up to a pair of paddlers, both who said this was their first crossing. The mixed up swell was difficult, but not impossible to knee paddle, so I alternated as much as I could. It was still pretty dark. I have to admit, I wasn’t keen on falling in, but I did. Eventually, the mixed swell caused me to fall too much. I was expending more energy getting back on that it was worth, so I stayed on my stomach.
The swells grew. The wind persisted. Chop came from every direction. The farther into the channel we went, the bigger the swells got. My boat arrived just in time to swap out my two empty bottles and hand me a second gel. I was feeling really good. My average speed was well above my target and I was just cruising. As each huge ocean swell lifted me to its crest, I yelled in triumph. I was loving it. The first 10 miles were as comfortable as I’d ever paddled, despite the crazy conditions. But then something changed.
I’m not sure if it was the realization that I had 6 hours to go, that I hadn’t even paddled a single Graveyard distance and was now starting to think about time and math and projecting finishes. I was starting to feel fatigued. I wanted a breakfast sandwich. I wanted to sit up and have a cup of coffee or a smoothie.
“What are you doing?” Russell yelled. “Stop thinking and paddle. You pay me to think. You’re here to paddle. Focus.” I ate a bonk bar and kept paddling.
By mile 12, I told Russell I was feeling like I was hitting a mini wall.
“You’re low on calories. We need to go to 15-minute feedings. What would you really like right now?”
I thought about it. I wanted a honey waffle and some Ox endurance, my mix that had caffeine. It was a kick and a secret weapon.
Within 15 minutes, I was feeling better. In fact, even know it was victory at sea out there, I was invincible. There were bumps. I was catching runners. Then I said, “All I need now is some AC/DC.”
My Captain started to blast AC/DC Highway to Hell, followed by Ozzy Osborn I AM IRONMAN, Bad to the Bone by George Thorogood, ZZ TOP. “You can’t even script this stuff” Russell said as each song seemed to describe my triumph. I proceeded to have the best 8 miles of paddling that I can ever remember. At one point I said to Russell, “I can do this all F-ing day if these bumps keep coming.”
The marine layer lifted and time passed, fog and dreams evaporated revealing Palos Verdes. We were alternating bites of bonk bars with GU gels, and every other bottle was either Tailwind or Skratch. I was in a rhythm. Our exchanges were flawless. Everyhting was going great.
“I see land!” I yelled at my boat captain. It was the first thing I could see that wasn’t violently undulating. The first solid sign that we were getting somewhere, that there was actually an end to this somewhere.
“Don’t look at that! You’re not going there! We’re headed to the left of that. Way left. Now follow that blue flag.”
The slap was meant so I’d keep my focus, not to be mean. Maybe to be mean. Who cares. He was right. I’d heard not to look at it or anything else but the reference point the captain gave you to set your heading. Everything else was a mirage or a hope vacuum.
“Don’t look back at the Catalina Island!” they told me the night before. It NEVER disappears. You won’t think you went anywhere.
“Don’t look at Palos Verdes!” they told me. It NEVER gets closer.
“Don’t look at the beaches!” they told me. They don’t move.
In other words, a watched pot never boils. You are so far away that there is no contrast. There is no way to see if you are moving and mentally, it’ll break you. Hell, mentally everything breaks you. Now that I think about it, how much more could my mind have broken?
But then my captain swaps out a bottle and we hear the radio, “48 has passed the R10.”
“James just passed the R10. You are about a mile behind. he is in that grouping up there.”
I looked around. What I didn’t know was there was a small craft advisory, so every boat out there was a safety boat with a paddle boarder. We were the only ones crazy enough to be there.
I took a long look at Palos Verdes and was shocked to see how far we’d come. It lifted me. It was progress. As we approached the R10, I started to get emotional. The R-10 is the red buoy that’s in all the photos.
I stopped to give thanks. To express my gratitude. To take a second and consciously look at where I was, what I was doing. What had been pressure to finish became support. I was feeling tired, but good. But then the bumps stopped.
I had 8 miles to go and I was cramping. Hamstring, calf, groin, and then, my abdominal cavity. At five miles I couldn’t take any more calories in. I could see the finish, but didn’t know if I could get there.
I threw up a bonk bar. Russell yelled, “Masticate! You need those calories, And their already partially digested, so chew!” I did. I don’t know why. And that was a highlight.
My speed was so depressing, I turned off my GPS. Every .1 MPH drop in my speed was another mail in my race coffin. They had pulled out 8 paddlers by then. It gave me an excuse. No one would blame me. The music changed. It was like when you have you heart broken and every lyric means something to you. You can’t even listen the radio. Guns and Roses Paradise City:
Take me down
To the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Take me home
Take me down
To the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Oh, won’t you please take me home
I wanna go
Oh won’t you please take me home.
I wanna see,
Oh won’t you please take me home.
When Kansas “Carry On Wayward Son” came on, I had enough.
Carry on my wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more
No more music. Russell was laughing, but turned it off.
I floated off, thinking about things—I don’t know what—when I felt a searing, icy shock of… water?! on my back. Russell had filled a bucket with ice water from the cooler and threw it on me. “How did you think mile 30 was going to feel?! It was supposed to hurt! You signed up for this. Now focus and finish this!”
It did the trick. Momentarily. He handed me a Coke and I let out a minute-long burp. That helped. I was 3 miles away. By the end, I was counting my strokes, resting after every 20 at first, slowly decreasing to resting after every 6.
“Look,” he said, “you are just over 2 miles from the finish. With this wind, you could float in. So finish this up and get your toothpick. Congrats. You’re going to finish this.”
That was the first time since the R-10 that I actually believed I was going to finish. I never thought I was going to quit, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to finish. It’s a mind twister.
After 40 minutes, I was there. The flag. The Manhattan Beach pier. I was done. I wanted to knee-paddle across the finish, but only had a fist pump left. This is where it gets strange. I became hyper aware of everything. Smells. Sounds. The waves beneath my board. I was overly sensitive and things seemed to be in slow motion. I just had to get in now. Through the 7 foot shorebreak.
The finish is awesome. The rest is sketchy
Paddlers round a buoy next the the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier. At about a half mile out, you separate from your boat, give them extra bottles, etc. and leave them in a group of safety boats to pack up your left-over nutrition, clothes, etc. into a dry bag(s). After paddling the 32+ miles, you turn around and head back out to your boat to get your bags. Piling a Yeti Hopper 20 Cooler Bag and a small dry bag atop a stock paddleboard and trying to paddle in was scary funny. Russell handed me my bags and congratulated me and said, “now grab your bags and paddle in for your toothpick.”
I paddled toward the shore, spotted the Body Glove tents next to the pier and laughed at the chest to head high sets coming into a crowded shorebreak. I couldn’t see carnage, but I could imagine it. I scanned the break for a gap, a seam and there it was. A sandy riptide wash was 100 yards to the south. I sat up and waited for the sets to come but was caught inside. I turned out from the beach and paddled as hard as I could, just making it over the peak of the set wave and sending my bags flying. I turned toward shore with the last wave of the set passing safely below me and paddled as hard as I could. I sailed in, through the crowds, on the back of that wave until I bailed in thigh-deep water. A spectator grabbed my board and I slung the bags over my shoulder. He escorted me to the tent where I got my goodie bag and toothpick, which is the most beautiful miniature wooden surfboard that reads 2015 Catalina Classic Finisher.
Then I was done. People were congratulating me. I didn’t really know where to go. People were packing up. Someone handed me an amazing cookie. I had to bring Joe’s board back, so I walked it up to the parking lot. As I reached the top of the steps, a homeless woman with a flower hat and bright pink lipstick waved at me from a bench. I looked over to see her mouth the words, “Great job!” and she gave me a thumbs up. I saw the truck and they took my board. I yelled, “What’s going on!” as the Earth shifted under my feet. I thought I was in an earthquake. They laughed, steadied me and told me it would wear off.
I wandered back toward the beach. I reached into my pocket to call home and my phone was filled with water. That’s not good. I thought about my family and friends who were tracking my paddle with an app and realized at some point, I must have disappeared on their laptops. Not good.
A man playing a guitar caught my ear. I brought some change over that I’d found and told him, “I brought this all the way from Catalina for you.” To which he yelled, “WHAT CURRENCY DO THEY USE!” I said, “The dollar.” he calmed down and went back to playing.
I have to admit that I don’t remember much from the awards party. We had a cheeseburger at one point before and I held on to a taco for about 30 minutes after. We met up with my brother Drew. We got to Surf and Dive and the awards. There were some serious watermen and women there. I couldn’t really eat. I had a Catalina Contusion on my arm. And we were taking the redeye. It was all a blur. I tried to take photos, but my camera broke. My laptop broke when I tried to send a message that way.
But somehow, we got to the airport and the redeye home. I slept well in the terminal and on the flight, despite roller bags bumping into me and loud talkers on the flight. And yes, that’s a travel ice pack on my neck. Get them at any pharmacy. Worth every penny.
I’ll do it again. No doubt about it. Treats or no treats. Only next time, I’ll already have one under my belt and I’ll be more prepared by time, training and experience. There was so much unknown—When to exert, when to reserve. I didn’t know what to make of the landmarks. Now I do. I’m not the same person who left NC. I know more. I have a better relationship with pain. We know each other. And I feel part of a family that I hope will visit me in NC. Nothing seems as tough anymore. I feel calm, patient. I’m not sure I had those traits before this. Without getting emotional, I’m just so grateful for the experience.
First, thank you to James Bain for jumping off the cliff with me and committing to this epic journey. To have a buddy to experience the Catalina Challenge for the first time made it so much better. We were like two kids in Disney World. Our constant texts and meetings, sharing articles on endurance, on planning, or nutrition, and strategy filled each week with an escalating sense of excitement and anticipation. This is just the first of many epic journeys. You are a badass.
Thank you Joe Bark for inviting James and us out to California and helping us with boards, logistics and a place to stay. Your kindness and generosity is an inspiration. None of this could have happened without you. i appreciate you opening up your world to us and inviting us inside.
Thank you to Cynthia Aguilar who helped me with technique and advice. You are an inspiration and I can’t wait to paddle with you.
Thank you Chris and Rob and the rest of the Surftech crew for the amazing Stock Commander loaner. She served me well. I miss her. Does she still have my #60 sticker? Can you tell her I miss her? #weliveforthis. I love that board.
Thanks to Pete Sterling and @futuressup for the no BS advice. There were moments when I thought, Pete just told me to relax and take it all in” so I relaxed and reflected.
Thank you to Brad Howard who got me on my first prone board. Thank you for introducing me and so many other people in our area to this paddleboard world.
Thank you 100/100 Group for pushing me to paddle, to keep track and to move forward. It doesn’t count unless you’re moving forward and this is one of the nicest group of paddlers—of friends—from around the world. Thanks for letting me in your club.
Thanks to Mick DiBetta for the training program that got me started. Thanks for steering me in the right direction.
Thank you to Jenny Kalmbach thanks for the words you wrote before Molokai about all the work you put in and it being just time to paddle.I thought about that. A lot.
Thank you Annabel Anderson and Grace Van Der Byl for your nutrition advice.
Thank youto my training buddy Dave Baker for showing up 2-3 x per week at 5:30 to head out into the abyss. Your constant encouragement and persistence is an inspiration. Giving thanks to Rushmore and the Cow Buoy each paddle has become my church. It grounds me atop the flow. Sincerely, thank you.
Thank you to Captain Russell Moore. I was so lucky to have you on my side. I’ll be faster next year. I am indebted to you.
Thank you to my wonderful wife Amy who covered for me on those long paddle mornings with our daughter Stella. Your support and reminder that great things are an accumulation of small repeated efforts carried me across.
And thank you to everyone involved in the Catalina Classic from safety to racers to organizers. I’m just sincerely thankful for the opportunity and am so stoked to have finished among this group of amazing people and paddlers. To be a part of your family is an honor and I hope to maintain the integrity your race espouses. I will cherish my toothpick. If my house lights on fire, after my family is safe, I’d run back in for that toothpick, and my daughter Stella’s unicorn.