It’s apparent that the decision made by the Southern California-based organizers of the increasingly popular Catalina Fun Run to move the gathering back a few months and tack on an extra day at the Pacific Ocean island was a wise one as a recording-setting 60-plus boats registered for last week’s seventh annual event.
A trio of DCB M37R Widebody catamarans powered by Mercury Racing 450R engines ran along Southern California’s famed Catalina Island during last weekend’s Catalina Fun Run. Photos courtesy Daren Van Ryte/OC Photographics
According to event organizer Corey Vodvarka, who puts on the run with his friends—Erick Bryner, Gerard Ladalardo and Daren Van Ryte—the fun run was especially well-received, particularly the addition of Saturday’s day trip to Two Harbors on the north end of Catalina Island for a semi-private beach party.
“The Catalina Fun Run was such a great event—I really have nothing negative to say about it,” said San Diego performance boater John Caparell, an experienced poker run participant with high standards who did the fun run that started in Newport Beach with his wife, Lora, in their 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran powered by Mercury Racing OptiMax 300XS engines. “The setup at Two Harbors with the beach and the cabanas was beautiful, and the best part was that it was an ‘open-door policy’ in the fact that none of the cabanas were reserved so it encouraged everyone to socialize a little more than other runs we’ve attended where people separate into smaller groups, most often brand-specific. There was a lot of camaraderie, which I really liked. I know we socialized with more people than we normally do at an event.
“Originally we planned to go to Destin for the Florida Powerboat Club’s Emerald Coast event after taking our boat to Missouri for the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout (in late August), but the logistics didn’t work out and we knew this event was taking place on the West Coast the same week so we signed up, brought the boat home and are glad we did,” he added. “Overall the run was pretty fun. The conditions were great heading to Catalina on Friday and the weather was gorgeous—80 degrees and no offshore marine layer. It was rough going back on Sunday, but we stayed on it and made it to the mouth of Newport in about 25 min.”
John and Lora Caparell had a blast running their 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran in the seventh annual Catalina Fun Run.
Adding that he’s likely to make the Catalina Fun Run an annual affair, Caparell said Saturday’s visit to Two Harbors was probably his favorite part, although the return leg to Avalon that afternoon was an adventure.
“Coming back from Two Harbors was rough as (expletive),” he said then laughed. “That was some serious Pacific Ocean water, and not big rollers—there was very little consistency to the swells. We took water over the bow several times; I’m talking sheets of water, not spray. It was a short run, only like 18 miles, but it beat the snot out of me. Other people that saw us out there said to me, ‘You were flying.’ I just laughed and said that it wasn’t intentional.”
Vodvarka acknowledged that many participants shared Caparell’s opinion about Two Harbors.
“We’ve received a lot of good feedback about the event—everyone seemed to enjoy Two Harbors,” said Vodvarka, who ran his Eliminator Boats V-bottom. “We lucked out with the weather. The water was nice and blue and everything was lit up thanks to the sunny skies. For better weather chances alone, I’m glad we decided to move the fun run from June to September. The only issue we came across with this year’s dates, if you want to call it that, was that there was a film festival in Avalon at the same time, but it didn’t create any conflicts.”
On top of handing out fun awards, such as Best Catamaran and Best-Dressed Crew, for the first time, Vodvarka said the event as a whole went fairly smooth and included boats from DCB Performance Boats, MTI, Nordic Boats, Skater Powerboats, Fountain Powerboats, Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats and more.
“What I like about the size of our event is that everyone gets to know each other—we’ve been able to keep the fun run very personable,” he added. “Every year we try to make improvements that enhance the experience for our friends and fellow boaters. And so far, every year the quality of the event and the quality of the boats goes up.”
Check out the slideshow above for more images from the Catalina Fun Run.
Agreeing with Vodvarka, Tony Chiaramonte of DCB, which was a primary sponsor of the event and is already committed to supporting it next year, said the run offered a little bit of everything.
“Austin (Carver) put together a little impromptu lunch run from Newport Beach to Long Beach on Thursday that was fun and then when we got back to Newport we hung out at Woody’s Wharf,” Chiaramonte said. “On Friday, the weather and the conditions were epic. There were nicely spaced rollers almost all the way to the island. It was like landing on a pillow. I was running 75 to 100 mph the whole way, which isn’t easy to do in the Pacific.”
After driving a customer’s M37R Widebody catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 450R engines alongside two other 37-footers from the El Cajon, Calif., company with the same power—returning fun run participants Kris and Shelby Hansen of Southern California and first-time (and furthest-traveled) attendees Greg Harris and Yvonne Aleman of South Florida— Chiaramonte said Saturday and Sunday’s conditions were more challenging.
“We got a little wet out there Saturday and on the way home Sunday, but that’s the kind of water you have to expect offshore,” Chiaramonte said, adding that Vodvarka and company did a great job making the two-day event worthwhile. “It was fun to have a few 37s running together in the ocean like that. There was a guy out there in his DCB F32, which was cool to see. That’s one of my favorite things about this event, seeing all the different boats heading out to the islands. And the number of people interested in making the trip seems to be growing.”
Vodvarka, who expects to continue with the late-September dates for the 2023 Catalina Fun Run, said he is in no hurry to expand the event just yet.
“We can probably grow a little, but keeping the group smaller helps with the camaraderie,” he said.
And when your main reason for producing the event was to hang out with your closest boating friends in the first place, then keeping the event manageable and enjoyable for everyone in attendance is essential.
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