After an absence of several years, the Hennessey’s Paddleboard Festival returns to Redondo Beach on Saturday, July 26. Photo by Ray Vidal
When the surf is flat in the South Bay, which is most summer days because Palos Verdes and Catalina Island block the south swells, surfers race paddleboards. Races are held almost every weekend. The popularity of prone paddling fell off in recent years with the explosion in stand-up paddling. But this year, prone paddling’s popularity has rebounded while stand-up’s numbers also continue to grow.
Despite the summer’s generally poor surf, the International Surf Festival is resurrecting its surf contest and will also hold its popular body surfing contest. — Kevin Cody
Hobie/Hennessey’s U.S. Championships, Saturday May 31
Doheny Beach, Dana Point
The Hobie/Hennessey’s U.S. Championships aren’t actually in the South Bay but they attract large numbers of South Bay prone and stand-up paddlers. Prone and stand-up paddlers will race a nine mile, open ocean course. Stand-up paddlers will also compete in the Waterman’s Challenge — a 5 miler and a slalom race, using the same board. Men’s SUPs must be 14-foot and under, women’s 12-foot-6 and under. $65. A fun, three mile race will also be held. $45. (www.hennesseyspaddleboarding.com).
Hennessey Return to the Pier, Monday, May 26
The South Bay paddleboard race season starts each year with the Hennessey Return to the Pier, a 3.5 mile course from the Hermosa Pier to the Manhattan Pier and back on Memorial Day morning. 9 a.m. $25. Registration 7:30 a.m. (No pre-race registration). The day will include a lifeguard sprint race around the Hermosa pier, followed by an awards party at Hennessey’s Tavern on Pier Plaza. HennesseysPaddleboarding.com
Riviera Mexican Grill R-10 Race, Saturday June 8
The Riviera Mexican Grill R-10 race is an in and out race from Torrance Beach to the R-10 buoy off Rocky Point. 8 a.m. Registration is $45 and begins at 6:30 a.m. The event is open to paddleboards, SUPs, and surfboards (boards under 10-foot-6). There are shorter races for kids and less serious paddlers, too.
Rock2Rock, Sunday, June 15
Two Harbors, Catalina Island
The annual Father’s Day Rock2Rock begins at the Catalina Isthmus and ends at Cabrillo Beach. The 22.17 mile downdownwinder is open to both individual competitors and relay teams. Rock2Rock is a qualifier for the Catalina Classic in August. This year’s race will include prone and stand-up paddleboards, and for the first time, a group of lifeguards on surf skis. Rock2RockRace.com
Hennessesy Paddleboard Festival, Saturday, July 26
Avenue I, Redondo Beach
Hennessey Paddleboard Series director Tim Ritters brings paddling back to its Redondo Beach roots with a day long paddleboard festival, beginning with an eight mile race from Avenue I to the R-10 buoy and back. 8:30 a.m. Shorter novice and kids races will also be held. Festival follows at HT Grill with an outdoor barbecue and music festival. Festival open to the public. Hennesseyspaddleboarding.com.
South Bay Dozen, Saturday, TBA
The South Bay Dozen is organized by Los Angeles County Lifeguards Mike and Brian Murphy and sponsored by Hennessey’s Taverns as a benefit for the Jimmy Miller Foundation. The family friendly event includes paddleboard, surf ski, outrigger, swim and running races. Points are accumulated for each event participated in, making for a full day of water sports. HennesseysPaddleboarding.com.
ISF Surfing Championships, Saturday August 2
Surfing has been absent from the International Surf Festival in recent years because summer surf is so inconsistent in the South Bay. But contest director John Joseph is hoping (their website solicits prayers) for surf this year. Divisions will include men’s and women’ short boards, long boards and stand-up paddleboards. Advance registration is advised. Beach entries will only be allowed if there are division openings. SurfFestival.org.
ISF Body Surfing Championships, Saturday August 2
The International Body Surfing Championship will be held on the north side of the Manhattan Beach Pier. The event features eight men’s and women’s age divisions. Age groups will be determined immediately before the contest begins and will be approximately equal in size. Limited to 108 male contestants and 36 female contestants. The top 2 finishers in each preliminary heat will advance.
The ISF Body Surfing Championships are run by the Gillis Beach Bodysurfing Association. Participants range in ability from the novices to former World Champions. Swim fins only. Entries must be received on or before Thursday, July 31 or a late fee will be assessed. Beach entries will only be accepted if space is available. SurfFestival.org
Velzy-Stevenss Pier to Pier Paddleboard Championships, Sunday August 3
The Velzy-Stevens race, named after paddleboard builder Dale Velzy and champion paddler Terry Stevens, is part of the International Surf Festival. The race starts off the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier and finishes on the beach, south of the Hermosa Beach Pier. It’s family-friendly, with parents and kids paddling tandem and others riding all sorts of boards. (www.SurfFestival.org)
Catalina Classic, Sunday August 24
The Catalina Classic is the oldest (established 1955) and longest (32 miles) organized paddleboard race in the world. Legendary watermen Greg Noll, George Downing, Rick Gregg and Tom Zahn were among the 13 paddlers who competed in the first race. It continues to be the most prestigious prone paddleboad race in the world, attracting paddlers from all over the world. Sorry, no stand-ups. CatalinaClassicPaddleboardRace.org.
For a list of paddling competitions throughout California visit EatonSurf.com/events.
Stand up paddleboard lessons and rentals are available in Hermosa Beach at Spyder Surf (Spydersurf.com), Tarsan Stand-up Paddling (TarsanStandup.com) and Pier Surf; in Manhattan Beach at Nikau Kai (NikauKai.com); in Redondo Beach at Dive N’ Surf (DiveNSurf.com); and in Torrance at Olympus Board Shop (OlympusBoardshop.net). B
Paddling, Hawaiian style
Lanakila Outrigger Canoe Club in King Harbor trains half a dozen men and women teams, ranging in experience from novices to world champions. Danny Ching, son of founder/coach Al Ching, won the 2013 Molokai Solo (single outrigger) and is one of the world’s top stand-up paddlers.
People who have never paddled are encouraged to come out and compete in novice races. Visiting paddlers are also welcome. Novice practices are Monday and Wednesday evenings for women and Tuesday and Thursday for men. The practices begin at 5:30 p.m. and continue until dark. Weekend practices are scheduled at various times. Lanakila.com. B