This isn’t going to be a fun little sightseeing paddle across the channel looking at sea life… this is going to be a hurl-fest grind. -Sean Douglas
On Sunday April 1, 2012 The Ocean Ohana Catalina Challenge Relay will take place. A 39.8 mile race on OC1, OC2, Surfski, SUP or Paddleboard from Avalon to Dana Point. In year’s past, paddlers have been met with generally calm conditions; this year, not so much.
To me, weather like this calls for warm blankets, sleeping in and a lazy day inside. For Catalina competitors, these conditions are a dream come true. I talked with Challenge racer Byron Kurt, who will compete with his partner Colin McPhillips in SUP as a two man team representing Hobie, to get his thoughts on all things Catalina.
What are your thoughts on the wind and swell advisory?
Byron: “I pray for conditions like this. I hope for Conditions like this. 45 knot downwinder, that is what you want out of the Catalina Challenge. Who wants to paddle 39 miles in flat water…? If you want to do that, you can do it by doing laps in the Harbor.”
What do you think your main challenge will be out there?
Byron: “The biggest challenge will be for the boat Captain’s, in these kind of conditions you are only going to be as good as your Captain. The course they lay out decides if you win or not. The second biggest will be figuring out what you are going to need to keep you hydrated, safe, and comfortable out there. It is a long day, with complicated transfers. Be prepared, it is going to come down to a tough mental game.”
Any goals for the day?
Byron: “I’ll be disappointed if they cancel the event. I feel like it could be a day for Colin and I to break the record set by Chuck Patterson and I, for two man SUP, at 6hr 32mins and 13 sec. There is the potential for this to be a very fast race with new bars set across all craft.”
Byron is legit, no doubt. He has been with Hobie for 34 years as a surfer, sailor, windsurfer, and SUPer. He is also an Iron Man Triathlete and a 6 handicap golfer. Notorious for speaking his mind, he will be a force in this race. He has also test piloted every one of the designs in the Hobie SUP arsenal. I talked with head shaper, Mark Johnson, to hear his thoughts on Byron and Colin as a team.
How do you think Byron and Colin will do as a team?
MJ: “They’ll be great. Colin goes about racing in an all business like manner; head down, no complaints, incredibly focused. He is the most gracious champion (**Ed note: Colin McPhillips is a three time World Longboard Champion) in the water… he brings a lot of credibility to SUP. They both share the same drive to win. Byron wants to be the first one across the line every time. He is probably the most mentally tough racer out there.”
Can you tell me anything about the board they will be on?
MJ: “No. Not a chance. The only thing I’ll tell you is this race will put the equipment to the test, and I like that. If they keep the nose out of the water, and stay in the trough.. it will be an exciting day.”
Final thoughts on the race go to the boss, Jeff Alter who will be Captaining the Team Hobie escort boat along with Chuck Benson.
How do you think it’s going to go?
Jeff: “I’m excited, strategy and knowledge are going to play a big roll. If it were me, I’d take a leisurely 6-7 mile paddle to the north of the island, then kick straight in through the surf, take lefts the whole way. With this wind, records could be set.”
Are you worried about the weather?
Jeff: “No. I have sturdy cup holders, so I’m not worried at all.”
** Note: Sadly, the race was cancelled due to the insane weather. Don’t worry, Colin and Byron will give it a go next year!**