The Catalina Island Classic 2014: Total Recall
The Catalina Island Classic, originally held in 1977 was the stuff of legends. An invitational downhill skate event held on a small island off the coast of California that featured the world’s best riders blasting down the spirited paved inclines of the city of Avalon. It was an event in the downhill oriented skate domain that would forever live on in infamy. Now some thirty-six years later, the good folks at Resource Distribution have revived the legendary happening, this being the fabled third year running in an ongoing series of annual events which attracts riders and attention from all over the world. Each year the date is set and each year the maestros of the downhill skate scene flock to the small resort town of Avalon to do battle with the tricky technical track, and their inhibitions.
Friday kicked off the event with an afternoon rider ferry departing from Long Beach Harbor to the small island town. Like some kind of giant family reunion, friends from all over the globe gathered and boarded the boat bound for a weekend of downhill and debauchery amidst sea breezes and sunshine.
As the day blurred into night, a golden sunset gave way to a bustling evening of inebriated interaction. Abec 11 played host to a fundraiser at a local Island Club with all of the proceeds going towards the construction of the island’s first fully functioning skatepark. Myself and Peter Croce manned the turntables, as free beer “until supplies ran dry” only acted to fuel the fire for a first night on Catalina that only a select few will be likely recollect.
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8:30am bright and early kicked off the start time for Saturday practice. Attendees, still reeling from the previous evening’s exploits shrugged off their hangovers and turned on the seriousness as they got their first taste of the race course. Short and technical, the track demanded more from racers then just straight line speed; cornering technique became paramount as lines were plotted and apexes were learned. A flurry of brightly colored suits and wheels hissed through the hills of Avalon, as the day of practice runs melted away with the late afternoon sun.
Saturday evening, the night before the race led to yet another night of uninhibited decadence. Kicked off by the sublime musical stylings of skate legend Ray Barbee, the evening encapsulated the essence of jam as Ray opened on his guitar and yours truly closed out the evening at the helm in the DJ booth. The next morning’s early AM wakeup time for racing was to be quite the feat of souless self-endurance.
Sunday, race day. Supporters gathered and sponsor flags flapped proudly as Mike Girard, Max Capps, and Justin Reynolds manned the mic and entertained the audience of spectators. Anxiousness to start running race heats began to build while racers amassed and loaded onto shuttle vehicles bound for the top of the hill. As race heats ran, the eliminated riders retired their bulky leather suits for shorts and shade. It wasn’t long until the final four for men’s and woman’s finals had been established. Photographers and onlookers culminated in droves near the finish line to catch sight of the final two heats. Almost as soon as everyone had gathered, word echo’ed over the radios of the riders on course. Distant cheers signaled their arrival as first women’s, then men’s finals were run. In a flash of color and draft, riders blasted around the final corner reaching the finish line to find themselves engulfed within a course lined with cheering onlookers. In the end, the California local AJ Haiby seized the first place victory for men’s, while the reigning champion Elena Corrigall maintained her place at the top of the woman’s bracket with yet another first place finish.
It was sometime around 7:30pm that Sunday evening when we boarded the ferry home. Memories of the whole Catalina Island Classic experience still swimming around in our head as the island faded away into the orange haze of a late evening sun. The Catalina Island Classic event, this being the third year running since the revival, will undoubtably go down in incline oriented skateboarding history as one of the best events to have ever been held; not specifically because of it’s location, or even because of the events held there, but because of the collection of people and friends who were there to bring it back to life and make it possible for a generation of new skaters to it keep alive.
Thanks for reading, now start making plans to attend next year!
An additional commendation goes out to all the people of Resource Distribution, the contributing sponsors, and everyone involved or in attendance who helped to make this one of the most anticipated and exciting downhill skateboarding events of the year. Thank you!