I remember sitting in the La Paloma Theatre watching the 2012 major release surf film Chasing Mavericks. The biopic of Jay Moriarity’s rise to world-class surfing depicted his mentor, Frosty Hesson, training the young Moriarity by paddling the miles of open water across Monterey Bay. I remember leaning into my then-12-year-old son and whispering, “Nobody could do that distance in real life.”
I was wrong. Participants from all over the West Coast were in Catalina on August 24 for the 39th Catalina Classic Channel Crossing — a 31-mile paddle-boarding race from Two Harbors to the Manhattan Beach pier.
Twelve members of the North County Paddleboarders participated, including Smiley Garcia, Johnny Kessel, Rob Dubin, and Roch Frey. On August 25, around 6:30 a.m., club members were arriving for their twice-weekly paddle-out at Cardiff Reef — the first since the competition. The arriving members were congratulating Frey on his sixth-place overall finish.
Frey completed the run in five hours and 23 minutes on his 18-foot board. Contestants used the prone paddling position in their run to Manhattan Beach, with support boats by their side. Frey said the North County club members get together on the weekends at North County shorelines. They go out all year long, wintering in Carlsbad’s Agua Hedionda Lagoon, to paddle and train for these events, including the world championships in Molokai, the M2O Challenge — Molokai to Oahu.
Twenty club members attended the 2014 M2O held on July 27. The challenge included both prone and stand-up riders, solo and teams for its 32-mile run. The North County club’s relay team, including Kessel, placed fifth.
The North County Paddleboarders was started about 15 years ago and meets up at the Cardiff reef every Tuesday and Thursday morning. When asked if the club ever held business meetings, Frey pointed to the water and said, “We have ‘board’ meetings.”