Directors Corner: Mike Murphy

The head of the South Bay Dozen talks shop, survival and success!

The South Bay Dozen

What was the first year of your event?


How long have you been the Race Director?

10 years

Facebook/south bay dozen

What’s your competitive background?

I've spent a lot of time in the water ocean racing.  I was never a very good athlete, but always loved being in the water and I'm a bit high energy, so paddling was a good fit when the surf sucked.  I got into board paddling, rowing a dory, surf ski paddling, then outrigger and stand ups.  

When/how did you get into Race Directing?

The only reason I got into putting this event on is because I was getting tired of seeing other races that were not participant friendly, and just plain stupid.   We've tried to create something that is well worth the entry fee.  

Tell us the history of your event? How did it come into being?

Frustration with other events, and some youthful energy amongst friends inspired the initial dialogue that led to the South Bay Dozen.

Describe your race, what is the course like? Are there unique points along the way? Has the course changed over the years?

We run 12 different races, all of which go in and out of the surf and around a set of marker buoys beyond the surfline.  Each course is slightly different in distance, but similar in principle.  Our races features swims, board paddles, surfski paddling, running, and dory (surf boat) racing.  

How many racers do you expect on race day?


Describe the typical participant of your race? Do you have a professional field at your race?

We do offer prize money, but most of our participants are amateur athletes who love the ocean.  

Does your event support any charities or non-profit making organizations? If so, discuss how your relationship with them came about.

Our event entry fees go to the Jimmy Miller Foundation.  That foundation was started in memory of Jimmy Miller.  Jimmy was my brother Brian's first junior lifeguard instructor.  That was the first of many times the 4 Murphy brothers and 2 Miller brothers crossed paths, including all 6 of us working as junior lifeguard instructors.  The foundation now operates an ocean therapy program that utilizes surfing.  It's a great fit for us to partner with the Miller Foundation.  

What is unique about your event? Location? Theme? Nature?

Our prize giving system is what separates our event, and creates the draw.  We run 12 races, and give out raffle tickets to everyone who finishes.  Those who place in the top 10 of each race will get multiple tickets based off their place of finish.  At the end of the day we draw names until we have 12 different winners on stage.  The 12 different winners then pick their prizes in the order in which their names are drawn.  We also have a weird streak going of our overall points winners being completely skunked on prizes in 10 years.  

Local knowledge: Are there any great parts of your race or surrounding area that you would suggest people visit while they are here for the event?

The after party, definitely visit the after party.  It gets pretty loose in a hurry and it's the only place to collect on prizes you may win. We don't ship anything.  

Prizes? Swag? Sponsors? What should the racers expect?

We give cash prizes to our top 5 men and top 3 women.  But the event's draw has always been the 12 grand prizes we give out via raffle among our participants.  The only way to enter the raffle is to earn tickets per every race completed. This year, among our 12 grand prizes is are 2 surfboards by Joe Bark and Surftech, snowboard by High Society,  5 paddles by Quick Blade, 1 outrigger paddle by Mudbrook, 1 surfski paddle by Ocean Paddle Sports/Fenn, polarized sunglasses by Hobie, and loads of apparel from Patagonia, Quiksilver, Paddleme, Speedo, and Jolyn.  

How has the evolution of the sport evolved and affected your event?

I'm not sure it has.  If anything, traditional surf racing went through a pretty rough patch and The South Bay Dozen was a bit of a cockroach during an apocalypse. Surf racing's on the upswing again and we hope it helps our participation going forward.  

We don't want to get too negative, but what’s your biggest headache as a race director?

The biggest hurdle we have annually is meeting the expectations we've set with our prize giving.  Our prize giving system is fairly unique, and creates a ton of incentive for people to try new events.  But, coming up with that cache of loot is completely dependent on the economic climate and generosity of our supporting sponsors.  They have been great, but every year it seems like a mission that is dependent on one or two surprise contributions to get us the 12 prizes we pass on to our 12 winners.  

Besides this race. Do you have a dream race you want to create? Please share!

I do.  But, I'm not sure sharing it on a race website to be perved by a bunch of hacks lacking creativity is in that race's best interest.  When the stars align and I can make it happen I will let you guys know.

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