My 3rd Catalina Crossing

Into the great wide open. Beautiful sunrise mid-Catalina Channel. (Photo by Brandon Magnus)

Last month I competed in my 3rd Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race, the premier and most historical paddleboard race in the world. Officially started in 1955 by Los Angeles County Lifeguard Bob Hogan, the first Catalina crossing was won in 1932 by Tom Blake, and has since seen legendary watermen such as Ricky Grigg, Mike Bright, Tom Zahn, Gregg Noll, Bob Hogan, Mickey Munoz, Mike Eaton, Buzzy Kerbox, Joe Bark, Jamie Mitchell, and Laird Hamilton make the Catalina Classic the preeminent waterman’s event of the year. Paddlers leave Catalina Island at dawn and paddle 32 miles to the Manhattan Beach Pier on boards between 12 and 19 feet long, using only their hands to propel them through the water. Swells, Currents and wind conditions play into what is notoriously one of the most grueling endurance events in the world.

After training for most of the year with my goal and sights set for Catalina, I almost pulled out the week of the race because I caught strep throat and was in bed for three days leading up to race. I very rarely get sick but my immune system was compromised after losing 10 lbs covering the London Olympics for three weeks in July and August (which didn’t help my training as well! ) But the Friday before the race I got out of bed and went for an easy paddle and decided there was no way I was going to miss the race I trained all year for.

All the paddlers who started the race finished the race this year and posed for the traditional photo at the Manhattan Beach Pier. It’s hard to describe the feeling of crossing a massive body of water using your own power and will to propel you, and everyone who is in this photo feels the stoke of having accomplished a herculean feat. (Photo by Jonathan Moore)

The ocean and mother nature was on our side that day, giving us beautiful calm seas and perfect temperatures which made for a very fast race. I beat my  time from the year before by 30 minutes, crossing the finish buoy at Manahattan Beach Pier 5 hours and 25 minutes after we started in the dark at Two Harbors Catalina. I was 14 minutes behind Adam Buckley who had an amazing race form start to finish and won his 2nd Catalina Classic, and 6 minutes behind  2nd place Sean Richardson, a 51-year old phenom who in my opinion is one of the best prone paddlers the sport has seen in the past decade. I was really happy for those guys and also my 3rd overall finish all things considered; but I was most stoked for Steve Schlens who won the  stock division after missing last season with back surgery. Most paddleboarders have day jobs and for the most part don’t make money for what is a truly grueling sport, training for hours upon hours for the love of the sport and ocean.

I finally downloaded my Garmin GPS info from the race and you can see my line, splits, and speed in the charts below. You can see after the R-10 buoy when the south current started playing a factor in the race (as well as my body started to bonk!) Special thanks to Tom Candaleria for providing me with another straight line and safe crossing aboard his boat “The Chief” and my photography assistant Brandon Magnus for taking some killer pics and helping with nutrition. But most importantly to my wife Lauren and my sons Luke and Micah for putting up with my early morning paddles and training for another year. For a great story and summary of this years’ race go to the official Catalina Classic webpage here, and if you haven’t been on a prone paddleboard or standup get out there and enjoy the water!

The 11th Annual Jay Race

Completely unrelated to photography, but something I am just as passionate about is the ocean and the sport of paddleboarding. After shooting the US Open of Golf in SF for GolfWorld & Golf Digest, my family and I just took a week vacationing in Santa Cruz, and had an absolute blast. Playing on the beautiful beaches, cotton candy at the boardwalk, train rides in the forests, and of course the infamous Mystery Spot were some of the great memories we had this past week. By the end of the week, Lauren and I were planning next year’s trip, and our two boys Luke and Micah did not want to come home to San Diego but wanted to move up to Santa Cruz. While we were up there I also competed in the prestigious Jay Moriarty Paddleboard Race, honoring the memory and life of the legendary Santa Cruz Waterman and big wave surfer Jay Moriarty. What started out as a paddle out in his memory after his tragic accident 11 years ago, has now become one of the largest and best organized paddleboard events on the West Coast of the US. Growing up in the Socal water, I have always looked up to Jay as the consummate waterman and since I began paddling it has always been a dream to compete in the “JRace”. I was humbled by the challenging course with varying water and wind conditions, and was pushed to the limit by the packed field of athletes from around the US, Hawaii, and Australia. At the end of the day I was stoked and managed to pull out the 1st place overall victory in a very exciting 12 mile course, with NCP training buddies Roch Frey finishing 3rd, and Deon Lourens and Greg Ford finishing 5th and 6th respectively in the stock division! Also big congrats to legend Jamie Mitchell for his win in the SUP division, Jack Bark for his win in the stock division and Candice Appleby first overall woman (you can see all the results here). They even had a short 2 mile course, a Waterman’s Challenge (500M Swim/1000M Paddleboard/1500M SUP) and a Jr. Jay event for the groms complete with an obstacle course! It was truly a fantastic family event and I felt the love and ohana from everyone who volunteered and competed in the honor of Jay. Special thanks to Duke, Kim, and the entire crew up there who put on a world class event with their efforts; to Tom Candelaria and Linda Inskeep who watched our house and dogs in our absence; to Joe Bark for the beautiful board he shaped me and of course to the entire NCP crew’s support. But most importantly to my wife Lauren and sons Luke and Micah who cheered for me at the half way point at the Santa Cruz Pier when I was hurting, cramping and doubting and gave me the second wind to dig in. Jay’s presence and legacy was felt by all who attended, it was truly a special time.  Two days later I still have a smile on my face, my Jrace shirt and wrist band on…LIVE LIKE JAY!!!

To learn more about the life of Jay Moriarty or the Jay race go to or

My 1st Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard World Championships

Competitors join hands in a prayer circle immediately before the start of the Molokai to Oahu, World Championships of Paddleboarding on the island of Molokai, Hawaii on July 31, 2011. (Photo by Donald Miralle)

Well I guess it’s one more thing to check off the bucket list.  Paddling across the Ka’iwi Channel or the “channel of bones”, the 32-mile expanse of deep rough water between in islands of Molokai and Oahu in the Hawaiian archipelago, was truly a humbling experience. Not because it was my first time or because we were paddling besides some of the greatest watermen on the planet including 10x champ Jamie Mitchell, but rather just the energy and “mana” of the place. A massive, living, turbulent expanse of deep water (sometimes over 1km deep at points) that has an aura of a place that has taken the lives of many men, including the legendary northshore lifeguard and waterman Eddie Aikau. My teammate Deon Lourens and I had a blast crossing the channel and soaking it all in literally, en route to placing 2nd in the Men’s Team Classic Paddleboard Stock 80-99 Division, despite partially tearing my brachialis the week before. The Australian team of Blair Thorndike and David Ward beat us by 10 minutes over the 6 hour race, further solidifying the Australian domination of the event with records by countrymen and women Mitchell and newcomer 17 year-old Jordan Mercer who crushed the women’s course record by over a half hour! Special thanks to our boat captain Allan and Ryan for the safe crossing, Shannon and crew for putting on a great event, and Deon for splitting the mileage and handling all the logistics of our race.  Together with the Catalina Classic later this month (body-willing), I am paddling for the American Cancer Society and have raised over $6k for cancer research and prevention. You can learn more or make a donation by going to my sponsor page here. Please enjoy the short video below of our POV of the crossing, thanks for looking!