You can find a paddleboard race, either standup or prone, on nearly any summer weekend. For competent paddlers, getting in shape for it is simple. "Maybe two sessions a week," says Joe Bark, a board manufacturer in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. "And then a longer one on the weekend, where you push the mileage up to half the length of your event."

One of the biggest challenges is the Catalina Classic, a 32-mile paddle from Catalina Island to Manhattan Beach, near Los Angeles, that's been held since 1955 and takes between five and eight hours to complete. "The last eight miles are the toughest," says Mike Litter, 42, a San Francisco psychologist who has twice completed the event. "You're paddling right into the wind, so the whole last leg feels like it's uphill, just a constant battle."

Two More Races to Try

Paddle Stars

This late-July event, held in Daytona Beach, Florida, offers a mix of river and ocean paddling with elite and recreational races. [paddlestars.com]

Jam From the Dam
Also in July, this 6-mile crossing of Lake Tahoe has options for paddlers of all skill levels. [tahoecup.org]