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Molokai to Oahu Paddle board race
Mon, 1 Sep 2008 13:00:40 -0800
Molokai to Oahu Paddle board and SUP race
On July 27th I headed over to Hawaii to experience the Ironman of Paddle board races, the channel crossing race starting on the Island of Molokai and finishing at Koko Head on Oahu. Myself and my team mate Dan Van Dyck (we raced in the stock team division) along with Tom Hinds and Shannon Delaney (also racing as a team but mixed team division) traveled over to the islands together. I was the virgin among the group as Tom has done the channel several times solo and as a team while Shannon and Dan had raced the team division the previous year and had raced the Outrigger crossing several times each.
I don’t want to butcher the details of the event while trying explain it so here is the over view from the event website, www.quicksilver.com/molokai:
12th Annual Quiksilveredition
Molokai to Oahu Paddle Board Race:
In the world long distance paddleboarding racing it’s known simply as “Molokai”,and its challenge has become legendary: a 32-mile rough water race across the Kaiwi Channel that separates the Hawaiian islands of Molokai and Oahu, from Kaluakoi to Koko Head. But unlike many other long-distance, flat-water events, the Molokai features a downwind course that tests not only the endurance but the open-ocean surfing skills of the field of over 135 of the world’s best men and women paddleboard and stand-up paddle racers. Competitors in a variety of classes including unlimited and stock paddleboards, as well as solo and relay stand-up paddling, must fight their way across one of the roughest channel crossings in the Islands, literally surfing their way down consecutive open ocean swells in the attempt to reach Oahu. Once along its rugged coast paddlers are met with capricious head winds and side currents that make the last few miles to Maunalua Bay a grueling test of sheer will and muscle. For serious competitors only, this year’s field will include six-time champion Jaime Mitchell, stand-up stand out Bonga Perkins and the 2007 women’s unlimited winner Shakira Westdorp from Australia, who just barely touched out rival Kanesa Duncan of Oahu.
Race morning brought 20 knot winds and 5-7 foot swells. I was told the conditions were not the best as the wind was not directly behind us and the current in the channel was from our right rather than at our backs. It still made for an epic day! It’s hard to explain what is it like catching these swells on a 12 foot stock board and going from 5mph to over 15mph in a matter or 3 seconds and then fighting to stay up on your knees as the current hits you from the right and starts to turn your boat. I took a schooling in the first 30min and after falling off my board several times picked up the technique, but was no match for the local Hawaiians or Australians that paddle in this bump ever day.
Dan and I started out each taking a 30min turn and then switched to 20min turns for the next 2 hours and then down to 15min pieces for the remainder of the race. Our support boat would follow or stay beside us until it was time for an exchange when it would then pull in front and hold position until the paddler was about 25 yards away. The guy on the boat would then dive in and hold a hand up in the air so that the paddler could keep eye contact with the guy in the water. You could lose contact with your guy very fast with the 7 foot swells, even as close as 20 yards away. The exchange was fast as the paddler would bail off one side as the guy in the water would then roll on and get a good push from his team mate. We finished up in 6 hours and 38 minutes, 2nd in our old guy category. Shannon and Tom kicked our butts winning the mixed division and 10 min ahead of us. Jamie Mitchell dominated the race winning by close to 20min and for the 7th year in a row.
We will all be back next year but I need to plan several one week trips beforehand to practice paddling in the bump!