California Race Preview - Hal Rosoff Classic hosted by NAC

[This series of race previews is an effort to share experiences from, and info about, races that comprise California's various races for OC1, OC2, Surf-Ski, SUP and Prone Paddlers. We would very much like to offer this for races throughout all of California and invite anyone who might wish to be a regular contributor with knowledge of the races there to contact us. * Information may have changed or be different on race day. So consider this a friendly free guide, and please do not run up to the race organizers if something is different, and say "Cali Paddler says it is different" as we are not the ones putting on the race. They are. And we are grateful to them for that!]

Hal Rosoff Classic by NAC

Hal Rosoff Classic Paddle Race

For this race, we reached out to some our friend Kel Thompson from NAC, to make sure all the history and various race courses is accurate. So much awesome, we didn't want to feed you incorrect data. We also had the honor of getting info from the Rosoff family about Hal which we are stoked to share. And of course, be sure to read our usual Cali Paddler tips to make sure our personal flavor and spice is felt and enjoyed! Enjoy!



Overview: This year is the 23rd Annual Hal Rosoff Classic! Since NAC has some of the most cray cray race directors this side of Hawaii, they continue to make it bigger and better than ever! With 5 different races to choose from, some over lapping, there’s something out there for everyone!

Hal Rosoff has been a long time member of the Newport Beach community. Being a major Newport restaurant owner, he always came back to the back bay and the Newport Aquatic Center. The races were first started by Willie Reichenstein, where they passed out rolls of duct tape and shells as awards, and grew to be a much bigger and better event through the years.  The Hal Rosoff Classic supports the NAC Junior Outrigger Team and helps get all kids on the water on any craft at the Aquatic Center.

Long time racers?? Bring your oldest Hal Rosoff swag with you to the race! All race participants get a race shirt and lunch, but the first 100 registrants ALSO get a free hat!

One additional note: In the past OC6s have been allowed in the long course. People can even borrow canoes from NAC so they don't have to tow. Same $25 per person, they just have a team captain register. Shirts and goodies still included!

The FIVE Races
**Courses are subject to change based up until race day, the organizers will make  everyone aware.**

Long Course – 9am – ~11 miles
We are going back to the OG course of the Hal Rosoff that all of the long time racers will remember. Starting at NAC, blasting through the harbor and heading out Ruby’s Diner at Balboa Pier. Making a left hand turn around the giant Dorito buoy and going back through the harbor finishing at the NAC.

Sup and Prone Paddleboard Race

Board Race – 9:15am – ~5.5 miles
This race is for the long distance SUP and Paddleboard paddler! Longer than the short course, it gives the board paddlers in our community a chance to race some distance as their SUP and prone season kicks into high gear! Starting at NAC, heading to Balboa Bridge behind Balboa island, making a left hand turn around the moored boats and back down the course to also finish at the NAC.

Yes we know what you’re thinking…three races going off within 15 minutes of each other and all finishing back at the same place. NAC thought of that too – rest assured – this isn’t their first rodeo…there’s a game plan. Just make sure you yell your number nice and loud!

Youth Paddler

The Dory Scramble - 9:30 Now in its 3rd year!

Grom Race – 9:30am – 1.25 miles
This race is for JUNIORS ONLY. But juniors of all ages. Juniors who may not be ready for the 4 mile course, or juniors that just want that extra mile race warm up before their 4 mile short course takes off. It’s for Juniors of all ages on ANY craft! So if you’re racing one man in the short course, come race 1.25 miles on a SUP before hand!

Short Course – 11:00am - 4.5 miles
This race is a fun for all, 'race what you brung' – just get out here and go face race! Four and a half miles round trip heading into the upper back bay estuary for 2 miles, left-hand turning on two buoys, and heading back in finishing right in front of the NAC.

What makes this race a little different than a few others is that there won’t be a major award ceremony. Yes everyone loves getting their awards but not everyone loves waiting around for them! Once your race is over, give the timers a little bit of time then head over to the results table to pick up your medal! Then some years they have a green screen photo booth to get your picture taken.

Hal Rosoff

So let us learn more about Hal Rosoff!
Hal Rosoff (and family) became a supporter and sponsor of the Offshore Canoe Club in the early '80's through his restaurant "The Back Bay Rowing and Running Club" when his fellow restaurateur, John Rader,  got him involved. Rader started Offshore with Billy Whitford, Willie Reichenstein John Van Cleave and Bud Hohl among so many others in 1981. Sometimes the Offshore crew would paddle down to the Rosoff's in Dana Point, have lunch and then paddle back. Hal and family often tried to be in Honolulu for the Molokai Race and were there for most of the 7 years the Women's team won!!
When Hal died of colon cancer in 1995, the guys wanted to name this February race after Hal. That was 20+ years ago!

Every year, the Rosoff family is usually represented at NAC - started by Billy Whitford and Sam Couch lll - for the event - often found ladling out soup and chili, visiting with everyone and Mama, Kay Rosoff, is usually on hand to help pass out the awards!


Community. Conservation. Connection. Cali Paddler!

Cali Paddler Notes.

  • The long course is first! That's right. Unlike other races, don't be caught showing up after hitting the snooze button. The great thing for long course paddlers is you don't have to sit around all day nervous and waiting. And after you can enjoy the awesome food spread.
  • Did we mention awesome food spread? NAC does it right! Morning bagels followed by chili and soup after the races.
  • While there, pay attention to the amazing facilities that the hosts are willing to share with us. Dedicated people like Billy Whitford*, Jon Van Cleave and countless others worked hard to fulfill a dream for paddlers of all crafts to have such a home. The paddling community is grateful to them for elevating our sports in the eyes of our neighboring communities. (*Learn more about Billy and his paddling community efforts here in this article on
  • Racing tip! Watch the shallows. Especially the short course that goes back into the estuary. A tangent line is not always the fastest when the currents swirl.
  • Racing Tip! Know the tide. Especially the long course. In addition to the long course going in and out of the harbor entrance, all the courses snake through a couple narrow then wide areas. If the tide is going strong, your line could make a difference. In fact, here is a whole article about where you should be when the tide is a factor: (
  • Register for more than one race. What's better than doing a long course than half the distance hurting twice as much right after? Seriously though, I did it last year and it was fun.
  • Schedule
    7am: Registration. 
    9am: Long Course approx. 11 miles
    9:15am: Board Race approx. 5.5 miles. 
    9:30am: Dory Scramble
    9:30: Grom Race 1.25 miles
    11am: Short Course 4.5 miles
Race Registration and Info:

[ Got some tips to share on this race? Leave them in the comments below. Interested in sharing your own preview for a race? We would love to team up! Race-organizers, please let us know if additional info can help your racers enjoy the day. ]

Thank you to Kel Thompson and Sue Rosoff for your help with the information above. The paddling community is grateful!

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  • Bruce - February 15, 2016

    Race photos are up at It was a beautiful day to be out on the water for the 20th year of the
    Hal Rosoff race.

    Race photos are up at

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