The Annual Catalina Channel Crossing Outrigger Championships Is Back on the Water

The Southern California Outrigger Association will host the annual Catalina Crossing, two days of outrigger racing with races between Newport Beach and Catalina Island.

NEWPORT BEACH— The 2023 Catalina Crossing U.S. Outrigger Championships, the pinnacle race of the Southern California Outrigger Association, will take place Sept. 9 and10. The Catalina Crossing is an annual race going into its 64th year.

A skipper’s and coach’s meeting will be held on Sept. 8 at Pavilion A at the Newport Dunes at 5:30 p.m.

The Sept. 9 races will begin at 6 a.m. and launch outside the Newport Dunes West Beach Pavilion. Canoes are asked to be off the beach by 7:20 a.m. to be as close to an 8 a.m. start time as possible.

The women’s race will start at 8 a.m. Canoes will line up at the Bell Buoy at the harbor entrance, and escort boats will follow slowly behind. The co-ed race will start at 8:20 a.m. Once the official escort boat signal has been sounded for each time frame, all escorts may proceed onto the course. Throughout the race, escort boat wakes may not hinder an opposing team or assist their own. Time penalties will be determined if an escort boat does not proceed safely and courteously at any point during the race.

The races are expected to finish between 1 and 2:30 p.m. The Wahine and Co-ed awards will be presented at Wrigley Stage on Crescent Avenue from 3:45 to 5 p.m. The racer’s event will begin with the Mayor’s Cup presentation, followed by giving the women’s and co-ed awards.

“Wahine is Hawaiian for women,” according to SCORA Registrar Caren Thompson. “The women’s awards presentation is done on Wrigley Stage in Avalon. Award tiles will be given to the 1-3rd-place winners in each division. Kane is Hawaiian for men. The men’s awards are done at the Newport Dunes in Newport Beach. Like the women, they are awarded a 1-3rd place in each division.”

The event’s second day will begin at 6 a.m. on Sept. 10 with breakfast on Catalina Island, followed by a beach clean-up until 8:30 a.m. By 9 a.m., the co-ed race will start out of Lovers Cove, followed by the men’s race launching at 10 a.m. Racers are expected to arrive at Newport Harbor between 1 and 3 p.m. and finish their race by 3:30 p.m. An end-of-season party with food and entertainment will take place at Newport Dunes Pavilion ‘C,’ with an award ceremony commencing at 4:30 p.m.

All crews will have a satellite tracker, so their location is always known. Multiple divisions will race alongside each other, and the satellite tracker will determine the winner of each division in the cumulative race. The average race time for the women and co-ed division is four to six hours, and the average for the men’s division is approximately three-and-a-half hours to six hours, depending on the conditions and fitness of the crews racing.

As in any race, the fastest time wins, but because the events will have multiple divisions, there will be winners in each division, all based on when they finish the race.

For a complete schedule of events, visit

“Each team has nine paddlers, but only six can be in the racing canoe, so that leaves three relief paddlers in the accompanying escort boat,” said Catalina Race Chair Cheance Adair. “A change coach generally travels with a team and will tell the skipper when to drive up ahead of the racing canoe and drop the relief paddlers in the water, in line with the racing canoe, the canoe approaches the paddlers in the water, and while in motion if there are three paddlers in the water, three paddlers will exit the canoe, and the new paddlers will “pop” in and start paddling…”

“We are still receiving registrations, but we expect to have about 130-140 crews between the two-day event,” said SCORA Registrar Caren Thompson in an email to the Log.   “Approximately 1200 paddlers with ages ranging from 16 to 80. Ranging from CA, North CA, OR/WA, Canada, Hawaii (all islands) and Tahiti”

Race fees are $650 per crew, and entry fees include canoe storage in Avalon and the Sunday afternoon awards dinner for the Sept. 10 paddlers.

Race divisions include:

Races on Saturday, Sept. 9

Co-Ed – Open Unlimited

Co-Ed – 19/U (10 Man)

Women – Open Unlimited

Women – Masters Unlimited (40+)

Women – Senior Masters Unlimited (50+)

Women – Golden Masters Unlimited (55+)

Women – 19 & Under (10-man)

Races on Sunday, Sept. 10

Co-Ed – Masters Unlimited(40+)

Co-Ed – Sr Masters Unlimited (50+)

Men – Open Unlimited

Men – Masters Unlimited (40+)

Men – Senior Masters Unlimited (50+)

Men – Golden Masters Unlimited (60+)

Men – 19 & Under (10-man)

The first outrigger race held in California was on Sept. 20, 1959. This first race was a long-distance race from Avalon to the Newport Dunes on the California Coast.

The renowned Duke Kahanamoku, a Hawaiian competition swimmer who popularized the sport of surfing, served as the Grand Marshall of the first California Outrigger event and founded the Catalina to Newport Dunes race, the original California Outrigger Classic. The subsequent races were underwritten by the Balboa Improvement Association and Ira Dowd, part owner of the Newport Dunes.

For more information or to register for the event, visit


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