When we adventure-craving SoCalers cross those fabled 26 miles of open ocean to Santa Catalina Island, how do we do it?
Most of us probably hop the Catalina Express, though some might know a friend of a friend with a boat. Helicopter trips to the hilly, wave-surrounded burg west of Orange County are also quite stunning, too, and a fine way to get out there.
And, yep. Some people waterski the whole way. They do.
But let us pause now and admire the beauty and swift speed of the outrigger canoe. It's a vessel that will be cutting through Pacific waters in the powerful way it has for centuries Saturday, Sept. 6 and Sunday, Sept. 7. The reason? For the prestigious Catalina Crossing.
The U.S. Outrigger Championships will send teams and their all-important paddles between Newport Beach and Santa Catalina Island over the first weekend in September. The women's teams and coed team's head out on Saturday, Sept. 6 for a 26-mile route; the men are in the outriggers on Sunday with 30 miles to face.
Call it a thrilling experience for the participants, of course, but also for anyone standing on shore or out on a boat who happens to witness it. Outriggers have a long and storied history with strong ties to Polynesia and Hawaii; call it a beautiful and rarer sight to see the streamlined vessels skimming waves off Southern California shores.
The Southern California Outrigger Association is the organization behind the push-go-to-the-island weekend. For more information on the divisions, times, and the tales of outriggers and how Californians have embraced the athletically elegant ocean-based pursuit, click.