Saturday night, the Buffalo Milks were flowing as Catalina’s Isthmus was bustling with long distance swimmers, sailors, cowboys and pirates. It is no wonder the popular Harbor Reef Saloon has gained the nickname, “Star Wars Bar.”
Eclectic combinations on this weekend are a decades-old tradition.
First there were the cowboys:
The Caballeros were celebrating their 70th year with five days of Catalina trail rides and roping events. According to Tommy Bennett, who has participated since 2015, the group’s mission is “to preserve western heritage on Catalina Island by promoting horsemanship, respect, the spirit of cowboy camaraderie and love of the outdoors.”
And then there were the sailors:
There were 31 boats entered in the Isthmus race and according to Long Beach YC’s Catalina Island series chairman David Weil, “After more than 50 years, and with one weekend left in the 2019 series, this is still the best way for a racer to remember why we love sailing in Southern California.”
The race committee was led by Staff Commodore John Busch and Stan Gibbs, who manage to make race management seem fun. For the crossing to the island, Flying Fische II won class A in a one boat fleet, Marty Vogel’s Relentless won B and Rosenberg’s won on Intense in class C.
It was 32 years ago that a mix of Blacksilver’s ragmen and Wrigley’s horsemen motivated Steve Steiner to establish the first Buccaneer bash. The gathering grew and commercial enterprises morphed the event into something more formal. This is the second year Steiner has returned the pirate-fest back to its roots.
According to Steiner, pirate preparation includes, “We have a six month swearing in where we learn how to swear, followed by a triathlon that includes: drinking, sword play, drinking, cannon firing, drinking and rigging.”
Zimmer’s Jenna Young managed to pack enough pirate gear to clothe the entire fleet of racers and according to some rumors Tommy Bennett distributed free appetizer coupons for Jade restaurant in Marina Pacifica — to compensate for missing the restaurant’s formal ribbon cutting ceremonies Saturday.
The three teams of relay swimmers were the real heroes of the weekend. They passed on the Buffalo milk and left shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday night and finished the swim to the mainland Sunday morning.
Erin Earlywine, one of the Catalina swimmers, said, “I like to challenge myself mentally and physically to see what I am capable of, there is a drive inside me that wants to do things others say can’t be done.”
She continued, “I thrive off out-of-the-box training, when everyone else is sleeping in the early morning, I like to enter the cave of pain. Either swimming in the dark, running in the sand with a weight vest or altitude mask. I’ll even run nonstop on a treadmill for 4 hours to mentally prepare for an endurance race.”
Hank Wise, holds the record for not only the fastest crossing: 7 hours, 55 minutes, and 46 seconds, he also has swam the channel a record seven times. He organized the two tandem relay teams, simultaneously swimming in one hour shifts.
Wise said, “A tandem relay is tricky because you have to pace, pace, pace instead of race, race, race. They’ve paced each other in the pool and in the ocean, in the pre-dawn darkness, in daytime, and at night in Alamitos Bay, Long Beach Breakwater, near the breakwater, Seal Beach, Corona del Mar and Palos Verdes. “
The 70-foot motor sailing yacht Maui Diamond was the escort vessel. She has a ferro-cement hull that is heavy, stable, slow and roomy. According to Wise, the vessel was donated to the Long Beach Sea Scouts by the Miller/Satariano Family two years ago and used for teaching and mentoring of seamanship. The Maui Diamond is captained by general manager of the Sea Scout Base Chris Macy, and is maintained and directed by Commodore of the Sea Scouts, Albert Guerra.