A race full of surprises, SUP History was made in every way at this years Molokai2Oahu SUP Race
This years M2O was full of surprises and no one would have suspected an outcome like this, the day before the start. After the start Kai Lenny and Connor Baxter took such a drastic southerly course that every one suspected that they must know something that no one else knows about the wind and the currents in the Kaiwi Channel. With great anticipation we were watching Kai and Connor on a head to head battle far south of the rest of the pack. After a while watching these two SUP Athletes paddling and looking for bumps, we had to set a marker in the on board navigation to keep track of them. The head camera man on the media boat ordered the captain to head further north to find more paddlers to shoot. At this time it was still easy to find other paddlers as most of them were still relatively close together. This gave us the opportunity to get some good pictures of some other paddle athletes. Nevertheless it was impossible to find all of them and take pictures.
Now it was time to sprint forward to find the prone paddlers that had a 30 minutes head start. At this time we were already half way through the channel and could clearly see Koko Head and Diamond Head. We were shooting the lead prone paddlers for a good while, wondering why Kai Lenny and Connor Baxter have not caught up to the prone paddlers already.
Before it would become to late, we made our way back to find the two leaders of the race (*little did we know or expected) and there they were. Kai Lenny and Connor Baxter on a head to head paddle battle on the last 8 miles of the crossing. The race between these two SUP-Racers was so close, it would have been to early to make a call. Our camera man from Ocean Paddler TV jumped in the water to get close up shots from both of them. We spent a good 30 minutes shooting Kai and Conner, when it became time to bolt ahead not to miss the finish of Brad Gaul a world-class prone paddler and the the leader at this time. We made it in time to Chinawall to get a good shot of Brad coming in for his victory. We were now anticipating Kai and Connor coming around the corner any minute grinding it out all the way to the finish line for the picture book finish the media has hoped for. There it is: I can see a green Unlimited SUP coming around the corner, but…where is Kai on the yellow Naish? We first could not believe that Connor would have gotten such a strong lead since we left them.
Wrong, wrong and wrong! It was Travis Grant on the green board (same color like Connor) coming practically out of nowhere. We were dazzled to say the least, not that Travis does not have it in him, but this is the Kaiwi Channel and Kai and Connor practically own this place. Not only came Travis in first, there was no other Stand Up Paddlers behind him for another 10 minutes. This came completely unexpected Travis Grant; first time in the Channel of Bones winning this by 10 minutes, but there was more to come. After 10 minutes it was Scott Gamble the Honolulu local who turned the corner next at Chinawall, where was Kai and Connor? Then there they were, Connor now had a good 100 yards on Kai but the race for them was not over, they were fighting over 3rd and 4th overall.
What a race that was! As we still tried to make sense of it all on the boat, the next surprise unfolded in front of us. Instead of Andrea Moller the Queen of Downwind, came Terrne Black around the corner, another first timer from down under. Two minutes behind her came Jenny Kalmbach from the Big Island into Chinawall. What happened to Andrea…? There she was 5 Minutes later she came in but…she was not alone, in fact, she was in a head to head battle with Germany’s Sonni Hönscheid, her SIC Team Mate. Sonni paddling this race solo for the first time and was in a head-to-head paddle battle with Andrea Moller one of the most accomplished downwinder paddler in the female SUP Sport and not only that, Sonni Hönscheid had a slim lead on her. The offshore winds were coming down pretty strong over the mountains and it was all about grinding it out right there. Sonni was writing German SUP-History right here, she carried a 17 second lead to the finish line, taking 3rd over all, engraving her name in the list of the league of the women’s top SUP-Athletes for once and for good.
It was a good day for the Aussies, winning every paddle class there is: Men’s prone, women’s prone, men SUP and women SUP, Jenny Kalmbach and Connor Baxter saved the day for the Hawaiians with a 2nd and 3rd place.
What happened exactly on this legendary day remains subject to speculation, but it is for sure that in a race over the open ocean with such a long distance not only pure paddle strength comes into play, a good portion of the win comes from strategic planing, choosing a good course, knowing currents and last but not least, a fast board. Due to the lack of wind the times were far slower this year than last year. In 2012 for example, Connor Baxter and Dave Kalama finished the 32 miles in a smoking 4 hours and 13minutes, while this year the only time under 5 hours in SUP was Travis Grant with his 4 hours 50 minutes.
For full results go to molokai2oahu.com
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