It’s not often that Mike Avila and his crew arrive at the start line of any ski race—let alone the granddaddy of races, the historic Catalina Ski Race from Long Beach, Calif., to Catalina Island and back—with a less-than-confident approach. Avila, who resides in Northern California, has been a world champion behind the boat and behind the wheel, and he’s not afraid to tell you that he’s been the best in the world.
The Warpath Team of Matt Ducie, Mike Avila, Wayne Mawer and Kevin Wynne celebrate after Mawer’s Men’s Open victory at the 2016 Catalina Ski Race in Long Beach, Calif. Photos courtesy Mike Avila
Yet, after interviewing him earlier this week, Avila said the confidence level was mediocre at best on Saturday morning when Avila, Kevin Wynne, Matt Ducie and Wayne Mawer, an Australian ski race world champion, got set to compete in the 62-mile race across the Pacific Ocean in Mr. Warpath, Avila’s Fountain Powerboats V-bottom powered by triple 1,000-hp BoostPowerUSA engines.
Avila and Mawer were on a mission to win after the team fell short on a judges’ decision in 2014 following what has been deemed the closest finish in Catalina Ski Race history. It’s just that everything seemed to be working against them in the two weeks leading up to this year’s event (because of an injury Mawer couldn’t compete in 2015, but Avila’s team won the Open-class race with skier Jake Tegart behind Mr. Warpath). Between tearing up some belts during a couple of rough-water training runs, breaking a roller lifter a week before the race and having to rebuild the engine, and blowing a transmission on Thursday and swapping it out the same day, nothing was going in their favor.