Only a scant 22 racers were willing and ready to race the annual Long Beach-to-Catalina Offshore Championships this past Sunday, July 8th, 2018. The 52-mile round trip enduro sees competitors dashing out of Long Beach, California’s historic Queens Gate breakwater, directly due south to Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island, circle a turn boat, and spring directly back. As simple as it may sound, the channel between the craggy Catalina island and the gray Southern California coastline is temperamental open Pacific Ocean and can turn at a moment’s notice.
All signs pointed at a smooth bit of riding until early morning reports barked over the radio that heavy rollers prevailed until a few short miles of the island, where conditions worsened into “washing machine” chop. Despite the warnings, most racers boarded Yamaha FX and GP1800 runabouts. A little more than a handful piloted Kawasakis, which until recently, was the weapon of choice for this event. As the starting flags waved and racers pinned their throttles, 2017-winner, Cyrille Lemoine was nowhere to be found.
Lemoine had been busy mugging for the camera boat when the flag dropped and hadn’t noticed until minutes into the race. The Frenchman quickly darted out to sea desperate to reel in the crowd who had vanished into the horizon. Mark Gerner and Craig Warner dropped out early with mechanical issues and watched as Lemoine howled past them. Dean’s Team Yamaha racer, Mike Klippenstein had pulled ahead early and was leading the pack, but not by much. The 50-year-old’s Yamaha GP1800 was over a minute ahead as the California came into view.
Amazingly, Lemoine has maneuvered through the entire field and was closing in on Klippenstein, whose whitewash was in Lemoine’s sights. Klipper pushed harder and earned his championship, crossing the flag boat a scant 82 seconds ahead of Lemoine, who himself was a mere 5 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Paul Pham. Juan Francisco San Martin of Uruguay took the Manufacturer Stock class on a Yamaha FX SVHO as well. In fact, of the Top 10 finishers, all but 9th place were Yamahas, earning the brand the “offshore championship” squarely.
2018 LB2CAT Overall: 1. Mike Klippenstein (YAM), 2. Cyrille Lemoine (YAM), 3. Paul Pham (YAM), 4. Tony Hoa (YAM), 5. Cassius Sanders (YAM), 6. Juan San Martin (YAM), 7. Jacob Leu (YAM), 8. David Palmer (YAM), 9. Jeff Lane (KAWI), 10. Derek Diep (YAM), 11. David Schapel (KAWI), 12. Sam Deluca (YAM), 13. David Uhler (KAWI), 14. Santiago Kuan (YAM), 15. Dan Lindgren (KAWI), 16. Charlie Martinez (KAWI), 17. Johnny Custom (YAM), 18. Eric Garcia (KAWI); DNF: Craig Warner (KAWI), David Chassier (KAWI), Arteem Kharatt (SD), Mark Gerner (YAM)