Most of the reason we’re allowed to do this race on this sleepy little retirement community-cum-island-tourist-attraction, it seems, is how professionally it’s run, and how sleek it looks. The dudes behind Resource Distribution (Divine Wheels, Paris Trucks, Riviera Boards, Decent Hardware…) threw a hefty chunk of change and some name recognition of their most well known brands towards what they hope will become the future standard on which skateboard races will be run. The city hosts a motorcycle race every year on a similar course to the one we utilize and even uses the same Soft Blocks (the best replacement for hay I’ve ever seen) that we do, so they’re marginally used to concentrated levels of anarchy descending upon their little island paradise. Our race is also held on the same weekend as a rugby tournament (likely by design, as to keep the total amount of time of visiting miscreants to a minimum, as rugby players and downhill skateboarders famously like to party).
The race probably only draws a few hundred people - participants, families, friends, but on such a small island you can really feel the influx in density. Cruising around town the night before the race there was a strange feeling in the air. Tourists window-shopped off the gluttonous memories of dinner, hawaiian shirts and bermuda shorts don’d as skaters putted in and out of the nightlife, fists pounding with promotional Pabst and stealing glances at promiscuous pumas; grom’s congregating on the street-corner eating ice-cream and chattering about their setup’s and debating the winner of tonight’s party or tomorrow’s race, too young to partake in the evening’s revelries and too inexperienced with their steed to race in the Open Classes just yet.
Hopefully the race retains its thinly veiled shitshow aesthetic over the next few years, retaining Pabst Blue Ribbon as a sponsor and maybe even putting in a Beer Garden or spectator bandstands and transportation. Maybe they’ll even suprise us and run the race on a new hill with a higher top speed and more sliding corners, increasing the thrill for the spectators and a new more technical aspect for the racers to consider. Maybe they’ll insert a slalom component, harkening back to days past and the nostalgia of it’s namesake, The original Catalina Island Classic, or a slide jam or slopestyle race, like the kids are into. Whatever happens, Catalina is not an event to miss, even if you don’t get invited: be on the lookout for innovative safety measures, super close racing, a fresh sponsor list and one hell of a party. But bring a sleeping bag: the notoriously expensive boat ride to get there and back and the most over-priced Safeway you’ve ever seen won’t leave you with much spending cash for that perfect place to lay your head, so look into the Campground or just sleep in the hills or on a nice secluded stretch of beach.