62 Miles, the Open Ocean, and a Pair of Skis

Ready to waterski to Catalina Island? And back?

Catalina Ski Race

OUT ON THE OPEN OCEAN: Great distance swims and paddles that cover a large swath of open water -- and by "open water" we of course mean oceanic H2O here, or a vast sea -- make the headlines because we tend to be more than a little fascinated. Most people's experiences with the ocean involve wading up to our waists, if that, so those adventurers that head out into or onto the waves, without a boat, tend to fascinate us. Channel-crossing swimmers, yes, but long-distance waterskiers, too, hold our attention. And while there are a number of competitions around the globe that get a lot of coverage -- island-to-island backstrokes and such -- California has its own longtime open-ocean race. It's waterskiing, 62 miles worth, from the mainland to Catalina Island and back to the Queen Mary in Long Beach.

YEAH, THAT SOUNDS MAJOR: And that majorness will hit top speeds again on Saturday, July 20 when the 65th annual Catalina Ski Race heads out onto the Pacific. There are 19 different classes in all, so, yes, some very competitive skiers'll be behind various boats, but adventurers of all ages will compete. There are junior classes for girls and boys -- that's age 15 and under -- and there's a class for teams, meaning that a single person does not have to complete the whole 62-mile route. There are even a couple of ways for two people to ski together.

IF SKIING 62 MILES ISN'T YOUR BAG... you can always head to the Queen Mary to watch the leaving and returning. The excitement is there, even for spectators, because this race is a bit of a rare thing. In fact, it bills itself as "the only open-ocean ski race that's regularly scheduled anywhere in the world." Meaning that one-off events come and go, but the Catalina Ski Race, at 65 years along, is here to stay. Or zoom, is maybe more accurate.

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