International Water Ski Racing Online Since 1996

Catalina – Did you know?

With the high profile 60th Catalina Water Ski Race fast approaching, I thought it would be good to share a couple of interesting Catalina snippets of information. Thanks to Ted Hoffman who helped put this together.

Photo by OC Photographics

Event: 60th Catalina Water Ski Race
Location: Long Beach, California, USA
Web site:
Date: July 19, 2008

  • Ed Stanley won the 1st ever Catalina Water Ski Race in 1949 (1hr 49)
  • The Catalina Water Ski Race is 62 miles long
  • Race Organiser of the 60th and other Catalina races is Randy Jarrell
  • Carlo Cassa set a record of 52:02 in 1996 but 8 years later, Todd Haig set the current record of 50:54:35. Todd’s Driver in that year was Jack Lynch. Observer and Navigator were David Frank and John Lynch.
  • Australia’s Robbie Woods was the first to finish Catalina under the hour (58:42), behind an 18′ Hallett Mini Day Cruiser driven by Bill Myer.
  • Matt Johnson was the first American to finish under an hour. Matt was behind a 32′ Spectra driven by Burt Court with Gary Heinbuch observing.
  • Todd Haig has won the race 7 times in the last 8 years.
  • Kim Lumley has won the Women’s race 5 times in the last 6 years with her fastest time of 59.59:04
  • Debbie Nordblad set the current Women’s record of 59:08 in 1996.
  • Janey Mobley Welch won the Women’s 7 times between 1961 – 1971
  • Lori Dunsmore is a 6 time winner in the Women’s
  • Joannie Martini also won the Women’s 6 times, from 1972 to 1980 – many of them in the hands-out-front era
  • Kurt Schoen is a 4 time winner
  • Two time winner Mason Thompson won Catalina overall (he was still a Junior Boy!) in 1984 in 1:03:14. He was the overall winner again in 1987, setting the overall record at that point of 54:56. That record was broken by Carlo Cassa in 1996, which was subsequently broken by Todd Haig in 2004.
  • The oldest standing record is Open Jet, Jeff Oschner finishing in 1:13:07 in 1980.
  • Chuck Stearns won the Catalina outright 11 times over 4 decades
  • In 2002, no one finished under the hour
  • In 2007, 11 skiers finished Catalina under the hour
  • In 1955 a magazine article read; “the favourite for this year’s Catalina Water Ski Race is 16 year old Chuck Stearns. Chucky finished 3rd last year – only the 2nd time he’d ever raced!” – Chuck won that Catalina race at the age of 16. He won 9 other Catalina races. Years later at the age of 43 and labeled “over the hill”, he came out of retirement to win his 11th Catalina.

These are just a small handful of facts that 60 years of Catalina racing have created. If you would like to share your Catalina snippets, simply add them in the comments box below.

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