07-17-2008, 03:17 AM #1
Skiers Will Skim Swiftly To Catalina Island And Back
By Carla M. Collado
Cruising the ocean’s surface at up to 70 miles per hour on a pair of water skis dressed in a Captain America costume is not how most people plan on spending their morning this Saturday, July 19. But for Jeff Barrus, 38, it’s all part of competing in the 60th Annual Catalina Water Ski Race, organized by the Long Beach Boat & Ski Club.
The race is the first of three in this weekend’s Long Beach Offshore Powerfest — the Catalina Water Ski Race, the PWC (Personal Watercraft) Offshore National Championship and the Offshore Power Boat Race.
More than 80 water-ski teams will take off at 8:45 a.m. Saturday from between oil islands Grissom and White, head to Catalina Island and return about an hour later to the finish line at the Queen Mary’s bow. The trip is roughly 52 total miles. Last year’s winner, Todd Haig with Team Nordic, finished in 51 minutes and 33 seconds.
“Our sport is pretty much an undiscovered extreme sport,” said Barrus, who’s competing in the Catalina Water Ski Race for Team Timmons Volkswagen and Subaru.
Skiers not only have to tackle splashing water, the loud noise of the boats and other distractions, but also have to do so while reaching speeds of up to 70, even 90 miles per hour, Barrus explained. Leaving the breakwater is another major challenge, as all the boats charge toward the opening at once, he added. Once past the breakwater, waves can get pretty big, too.
“The water gets extremely rough,” he said, adding that fatigue can be another problem. “It’s really a true marathon endurance sport … you need to learn to pace yourself.”
In addition to their wet suits (which have flotation built-in), racers wear neck rolls, arm restraints, helmets, goggles and gloves for safety. Holding their handles “Australian wrap” style behind their backs with one hand and the rope up front with the other hand helps skiers ease the strain on their arms and backs, Barrus said.
Lastly, teams have to focus on staying on the right course and not simply following other boats. Barrus told of one team back in the ’70s or ’80s that made it all the way to San Clemente Island, 20 miles past Catalina.
“Staying on course is definitely an advantage in this race,” he said. “You really have to run your own race.”
To help him concentrate, Barrus started listening to music during the race several years ago — from Korn and Disturbed to Joni Mitchell and Smashing Pumpkins. The music also helps him keep track of time. The Long Beach native also was the first skier to wear a helmet camera (to broadcast live to the Coast Long Beach Hotel) and a costume.
Up to 400 local boaters and their vessels are expected to line up to send off the water ski racers Saturday, a spectacle in itself, according to Barrus.
“It’s quite a crazy parade of boats going through there,” he said.
Another 50 or so racers — this time on jet skis — are scheduled to face off at 8 a.m. Sunday, July 20, in the Third Annual PWC Offshore National Championship. They’ll run the same course as the water ski race to Catalina and back, but finish at the Queen Mary’s stern. Last year’s winner was Nick Vanis of Los Alamitos, who finished the race in 54 minutes and 38 seconds.
“It’s a very intense race, even though it’s finished in about an hour,” said Ross Wallace, race director and promoter from RPM Racing Enterprises, title sponsor of the jet-ski race. “You don’t have to be a PWC enthusiast to enjoy this race.”
Wallace said jet skiers also face numerous challenges and obstacles out on the water, including 10-to-15-foot waves, kelp beds and fishermen. All racers must have GPS, cell phones, flare sticks, food rations, mirrors and helmets on them, among other safety items, he explained. The U.S. Coast Guard and Sea Tow keep tabs on the racers as well.
“It’s the open ocean and these are personal watercrafts,” Wallace said. “Safety is of the utmost importance in this race.”
Interested people have until Saturday to register to race in the PWC Offshore National Championship, either online at www.pwcoffshore.com or at Marina Green Park (on Saturday). Registration fee is $275. For more information, e-mail email@example.com. To learn more about the Catalina Water Ski Race, visit www.catalinaskirace
07-17-2008, 02:26 PM #2
I was doing a Catalina run last weekend and was passed by a few of these offshore powerboats pulling a skier. Here I am getting beat down on my jetski and there are these guys crusing by me with a skier. Its an amazing thing to see thats for sure.
07-18-2008, 03:27 AM #3
Those water skiers have guts, can you imagine a 70MPH haul on a line? OMG....amazing!
07-18-2008, 12:22 PM #4
im still rooting for the pwc'ers tho......
07-20-2008, 12:48 PM #5
what happened at the race!!!!!!!!
results!!!!!! The suspense is killing me......
07-20-2008, 10:28 PM #6
07-21-2008, 11:54 AM #7
And the Winner is...
Craig Warner wins the 2008 LB2CAT! Kawasaki ULTRA250X
07-21-2008, 01:07 PM #8
07-21-2008, 01:11 PM #9
07-21-2008, 01:13 PM #10
1) C. Warner - Kawi 250X (Kawasaki)
2) Curtis Reinburg- Kawi (G-Force)
3) Mike Younts- Kawi (G-Force)
Curtis Reinburg I met years, and years ago at one of our Yamaha Performance Schools, where I would tour the country training racers at select IJSBA National Tour stops, I met him when he was just starting to race, it was so great to see him, but I didn't have any time to go say hello, I think he left when I was looking for him....really nice to see him, I think he took the class at Galveston, Texas and I am sure I have some old pics of that kid!
Way cool, stick around long enough and the next generation takes the lead!
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