Race #4 – The Maui Jim Molokai Challenge

‘It Was The Battle Of The 5’

‘The Molokai’, the former World Championships of Open Ocean Surfski, is one of the toughest races on the surfski calendar, and is this year was no exception.  With no wind (even a slight headwind) predicted, it was going to be a real test of endurance and guts. Paddlers traveled to Kaluakoi, at the west end of Molokai Island, Hawaii; 53km of open ocean lay between them and the finish, Maunalua Beach Park, Hawaii Kai, Ohau.  This stretch of water is called the channel of bones for good reason.

With flat conditions and a very strong race contingent, the race was a brutally tough up front with Clint Robinson, Jasper Mocke, Sean Rice, Hank Mcgregor and Cory Hill all trading places throughout the 53 km crossing.  In the end, it was Hank who crossed the line in 1st place paddling past a very frustrated Cory Hill who had come to close to the infamous China Wall reefs, consequently smashing his rudder, with only 2 km  left to the finish. The defending champion had to relinquish his lead to give McGregor a Molokai hatrick.  Sean Rice and Jasper Mocke, both still searching for that elusive Molokai victory, capitalized on a step up the podium, while 3 x former winner Clint Robinson finished in 4th place.

In the Women’s, surf lifesaving iron woman supremem, Liz Pluimers from Australia, took a major maiden victory in the World Series by coming in well ahead of last year’s champ Rachel Clarke.  Pluimers showed her class by not only duking out the distance in brutal conditions but was a full 15 minutes clear of the former winner Clarke.
A post finish pic of Jasper Mocke that completely sums up the brutality of this race.

The Molokai Challenge is the oldest independent downwind ocean paddling race in the world.  Up until the inception of the World Surfski Series in 2007 the Molokai was the de-facto World Championship event on the ocean racing calender.  Many paddlers consider it a pilgrimage.