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Cabrillo Run

(from CaliPaddler Website - provided by John (aka Huli) from the Canoe Club Kahakai - with Outrigger Canoes in mind)


Long Beach (Map) - Every so often, those onshore winds howl, and we look to our coastline for a place that lines up just right. Like a perfect ski run gifted from the paddle gods. Where you surf and catch so many bumps that you forget what it's like to have to paddle. Well, for those of you who are advanced, and have heard the lore of such a paddle, with safe access at both ends, we bring to you the Cabrillo Run. An epic point-to-point paddle off Long Beach Harbor Breakwall. But rather than promote it, and then just have a bunch of 1st timers get hurt, lose their canoes, or worse, we reached out to the locals at Kahakai Outrigger Canoe Club who graciously share valuable guidance, insight, and this comprehensive write-up for us here.

Cabrillo Beach to Long Beach Downwind Run

About 12 miles with 9 miles lined up with the swell


Optimal Conditions

Westerly winds, 15+ and NW wind swell; these are normal afternoon conditions in the late Winter and Spring. Avoid Santa Ana conditions, or Southerly winds, we monitor to plan ahead.

Attire and Equipment

Dress for warmth - you can always remove layers. I wear two layers on top, and usually long leggings, also, neoprene booties are recommended as winter water temps are cold. I keep a change of clothes at the finish that includes jacket, beanie cap, and warm shoes. Your canoe should be set up for surf, a big rudder and leash are essential. All canoe models work fine, but since the wind swell periods are close together, maneuverable canoes with good rocker work best.


In doing this run for nearly 10 years, I have been involved in nearly every conceivable mishap; heed the following advice. Check your cables and rudder set up, this run puts a lot of stress on your rudder-system, make sure it is on point to keep you on point. Leashes are necessary, bring it and use it! Bring 1 extra paddle for every 3 paddlers, not only is it possible to break a paddle, but in these conditions it is possible to lose a paddle on a change or on a rest break. Bring a phone, put it in a case with you, in a pack, or pocket. Marine radios are also recommended; we bring at least 1 radio and have the strongest paddler carry it with them. Lastly, PDF’s are needed, rubber one to your back iako. Other safety equipment may include zip-ties, small tools, and extra line or rubber. These items will become useful upon major equipment failures. Better to have them than to be left wishing you brought them. It is best to do the run in pieces, we stop at every opening in the breakwater, Angel’s gate is first, Queen’s gate is next, and the east end of the breakwater is last. We stop to gather all paddlers, and make a head count to make sure no-one is left behind. Try to stay on similar lines, this make’s it easy to keep track of all paddlers.

The Run

Now, with the scary stuff out of the way, lets talk about the run: one of the best and most consistent surf runs in Southern California.

  1. Launch - Cabrillo Beach (1 on map) After setting up boats on the grass roundabout, the beach launch (100 yards) is the primary start.
    1. Alternate launch (2 on map) If there is too much shorebreak at Cabrillo beach, you can launch from inside the harbor.
  2. Paddle straight out almost ½ mile avoiding the kelp patches, this will set you up for a good angle with the wind and swell
  3. The optimal line uses the Oil Rig off the Seal Beach pier for a landmark. This will keep you from getting too close to the breakwater where backwash can slow you down. Advanced paddlers have the ability drop in and connect waves on their right side during optimal conditions. Keep an outside line all the way to the end of the breakwater, you will pick up better waves outside and pass your friends who got pushed down closer to the rocks.
    1. Alternate line First time paddlers or beginners may want to go inside the breakwater at Queen’s gate, keep safety in mind and take partners with you on any of the alternate routes.
  4. Take Outs? Mother’s Beach in Long Beach, Seal Beach
  5. …..

Finishing and Logistics

We load boats and organize rides from our canoe club Kahakai, located at Mother’s Beach in Long Beach. We have a small grass area for rinsing boats, lockers for your warm clothes, and usually have a cooler with cold adult beverages at the end of our runs. It is best if you can get someone to drive, but If you can’t, many of us at Kahakai will help you get back to your car after. Plan for 3 hours+ with travel time and breaks on the water. The run is about 12 miles, 9 of which are connecting wave after wave on bombing days. Email me if you need help organizing, we are always up for a surf run!

John (aka Huli), Kahakai OCC Long Beach

cabrillo_run.txt · Last modified: 2021/08/01 17:09 by preavley