Members of the Board

The men and women of the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race

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The Sweeper

Adam Buckley


Hermosa Beach

Finishes: 4
Highest placing: 1st (2010, 2012 and 2013)

Board: Bark Unlimited 19’

“From just an adventure perspective, you know, what else is there? You look out to the sea, and you see this island that’s out there in the distance. I think going over there by boat might be an adventure for some people. But waking up at 4:30 a.m. in the dark and leaving at 6 a.m. and racing across as fast you can—that’s a real adventure. That’s a goal you can set and do at the end of the summer. It’s addicting for people. It’s human nature, it’s work, but at the end you’re really stoked and happy. You’re now part of the tradition.”


A 32-mile paddleboard race that begins at Santa Catalina Island’s isthmus and ends at the Manhattan Beach Pier has been the cornerstone of the South Bay’s ocean sports community for generations. Surfing legend Tom Blake first paddled that lonely stretch of open water in the early ‘30s, and since then local watermen and women have come to look upon that challenging crossing as the ultimate test of their paddling and ocean skills. In the ‘50s Bob Hogan founded the Catalina Classic as a small, local competitive event. It floundered during the ‘60s, only to be revived by former competitors Karl “Buddy” Bohn and Weldon “Gibby” Gibson two decades later. Since then the race has grown into a premiere event, drawing competitors from not only the South Bay but around the world. Meet nine local competitors who have tested strength, stamina and endurance on that epic journey to the finish line.


The Powerhouse

DJ O’Brien



Finishes: 6

Highest placing: 2nd

Board: Bark

“We do train as hard as any guy trains. I don’t want to sound too competitive or negative, but it’s so nice to have the women’s class recognized now.”


Renaissance Man

THE Natural

Brad Thomas 

Kyle Daniels


Hermosa Beach

Finishes: Finishes: 9
Highest placing: 1st (2011)Highest placing: 1st (6 times) 
Board: Stock Bark and Unlimited RichmondBoard: Bark Unlimited
“It’s a historical sport that I would like to see kept alive. There’s a mystique to the race, and it draws a lot of the same people—so a lot of good, fun, enjoyable people.
You never see anyone battling it out.”
“This has been a huge part of the lifeguard community. Greg Noll was one of the first. I’ve been fortunate to follow in their footsteps, and what’s really cool is that it’s not just about the lifeguards. Now it’s spilled out into the waterman and action sports communities as a whole. It’s one of our connections to the community. It’s a rite of passage for a lot of people who’ve been lucky enough to grow up in the South Bay.”



The Legacy

Jack Bark

Joe Bark

Gemma Bark

Palos VerdesPalos VerdesPalos Verdes
Finishes: 3Finishes: 30Finishes: 1
Highest placing: 3rdHighest placing: 2 wins in ’88 and ’89Highest placing: Middle of the pack
Board: Bark Surftech Stock CommanderBoard: Bark. “I built my first paddleboard.”Board: Bark 12-foot CT Model
“Once you get out past the surf line, it gets so quiet. It’s probably the quietest place you can go on your own, and you can forget about work or school. It’s great to be in that zone.”“What’s neat about the Classic is that it’s not a dog-eat-dog thing. There’s no money. It’s a respectable, honorable race, and you fight it out there with your friends until the end. It’s a race of honor. You help your buddies—it’s still a race and a sport where you do the right thing. Every paddler is out there to challenge themselves, and at the end of the day, you go back to your day job.” “Everyone just wants to help everyone else succeed. For some of us, it was our first time. Everyone wants to finish. In the end, everyone wants to see everyone finish.”


The Veterans

Matt Walls

George Loren

Hermosa Beach
Redondo Beach 
Finishes: 11Finishes: 11
Highest placing: 11thHighest placing: 7th
Board: BarkBoard: Bark Unlimited
“It’s a big rite of passage around here. A lot of the forefathers of modern surfing did it. The original surf city … that’s Hermosa Beach. They all did this race. If you’re a big surf guy in this city, you have to do this race. I knew at some point that I had to too.”“I was always involved in sports; I surfed as a kid. I like the camaraderie (there’s a couple of guys I train with), and the competitiveness is fun. Catalina is a different animal, and I definitely enjoy the training side of it. I love being on the ocean as opposed to being in the gym. Nothing beats being out on the water—half-mile or five miles on your own or with some friends.”