Joe Bark

When lifelong South Bay resident Joe Bark was 16 – an age when wanderlust begins to tug at the heart of many teenagers – he decided to gather his friends together and paddle 22 miles to Catalina Island on borrowed lifeguard boards.

When lifelong South Bay resident Joe Bark was 16 – an age when wanderlust begins to tug at the heart of many teenagers – he decided to gather his friends together and paddle 22 miles to Catalina Island on borrowed lifeguard boards.

“Growing up here, Catalina was always in our backyard, so as a challenge and a destination, it made sense,” he stated. The journey took just under seven hours for the skilled, physically fit group of boys and sparked in Bark a love for the sport of long-distance paddling.
 

The Palos Verdes firefighter also enjoys freediving, spearfishing, surfing and conducting harbor patrols in King Harbor. And he undeniably channels this passion into his work, which is likely why Joe Bark Paddleboards are widely recognized as the leading brand in the ocean endurance community.
 

After the Catalina Classic paddleboard race to the island was resurrected in 1982, Bark participated in 1983 and has joined it every year since. He won the event in 1988 and 1989, and he is continually inspired by the unparalleled diversity and camaraderie he finds evident in the paddling community. Even his four children share his passion and have participated in various races alongside their father.
 

As a craftsman, Bark’s love for his sport naturally extends from his hands, and the result is high-quality boards. Utilizing such modern-day materials as EPS foam, epoxy, carbon graphite fiber and fiberglass, this artisan, who often begins working at the crack of dawn, is quick to point out that the sport’s forefathers managed to build great boards in the 50s and 60s using only wood. He also humbly asserts that paddleboarders themselves are “95% of the equation” in this activity that requires practice and flexibility from those who embrace it.
 

“Paddleboarding is an amazing sport for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the paddling community is largely informal and made up of people of all ages who enjoy helping each other,” said Joe. In the South Bay alone you can find two of the biggest paddleboarding groups in the country (the Mermaids for women and the Donkeys for men), and the ocean is right outside our door.”
To purchase a Joe Bark paddleboard or to learn more about Bark’s adventures and upcoming events, visit joebark.com.

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