Malibu DownWinder: The Most Soulful Paddleboard Race on the West Coast

Race Director Gary Fortune tells us about the roots of this Spring Classic

You won’t find too many people more soulful than Gary Fortune, the Race Director of the Malibu Downwinder.  If you’ve been fortunate enough to participate in one of the previous 11 Downwinders, then you know what I’m talking about.  If not, and you like to paddle, you need to do this race.  Gary is a throwback to life in California before the Kardashians, Twitter feeds, and selfies.  Originally a lifeguard with the State guards at Point Magu, Gary worked his way into a full-time position with the LA County Lifeguards.  As a guard, you won’t find anyone better; but it’s outside of the job that he comes to life - in a very humble way.  An awesome athlete, great surfer, decent golfer, and all around mellow dude, Gary put together the Downwinder as way to get his buddies together and have a good time racing.  Not only is it a great time racing, but there’s also a laid back BBQ at the finish where you can cheer on those lucky enough to score a coveted handmade (by Gary of course) ceramic mug.

RM: How many years have you been putting on the race?
GF: This is the 12th annual Downwinder.

RM: What makes this race special?
GF: I just wanted to put on an old school event like the ones I remembered going to in my early lifeguarding career.  Its fun to get like minded folks together to enjoy the ocean do a workout and have a few beers and BBQ afterward.

RM: What are the course records?
GF: The course changes a little every year so there are no set course records but I know nobody has gone faster on stock than Jack Bark

RM: Who's the defending champ?
GF: Max First

RM: Tell us a little about the charity you are supporting.
GF: The funds go to the Leo Carrillo Junior Lifeguard program to sponsor a few underprivileged kids and also to sponsor a Chumash day for all the junior lifeguards at the Nicholas Canyon village.

RM: Who are the sponsors that help make this happen?
GF: ZJ Boarding House, Michelob - Scott Hubbell, Dukes Malibu, Chipotle, and Thousands Oaks Meat Locker does the BBQ for us.

Do you have special prizes for the top finishers this year?
GF: No special prizes - just hand made ceramic mugs (note: this is the understatement of the year.  Gary makes beautiful pottery and if you win one of these, your cool factor will multiply 10X with your paddling buddies)

Sign up for the Malibu Downwinder today: Malibu DownWinder Registration.  There will be limited beach registrations available at the start (just north of the Magu rock).
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