Baxter Wins Mormaii Molokai Pailolo Race



MOLOKAI, Hawaii — The Mormaii Molokai Pailolo Express Race presented by Standup Paddle Magazine lived up to expectation Sunday as gusts as high as 20 knots delivered the goods for 28 Elite paddlers. Known for it’s “Lolo” (crazy) running current and wind, the 10:10 AM start gave way to a light mist at the line from Honolua Bay, Maui with a sense of calmness before heading straight into the rum line.

Some of the world’s best including Maui’s Dave Kalama, Mark Raaphorst, Scott Trudon, Connor Baxter, Jeremy Riggs, along with Molokai’s Ekolu Kalama, Brazilians Livio Menelau and Andrea Moller assured everyone that this was not going to be another weekend get together paddle race and took off on various lines to Molokai so they could get on the Pailolo Express which runs along from mid channel of the islands and straight toward Kaunakakai Harbor.

Just how prepared are these Elite? Several paddlers including Dave Kalama, Trudon, Menelau, Trudon geared themselves with two hydration packs and power gels to last the 27-mile crossing knowing there would be no stopping or support boat along the way. For Honolulu paddler, Koliah Jardine who made the decision to paddle the race the day prior, the crossing became a test of endurance as his water pack malfunctioned an hour into the channel and it became a game of mind and body over dehydration and defeat.

Said Jardine, “One hour into the race I tried to chew open my water pack line and it wouldn’t give me a drop, at that point I knew it was going to be mind and muscle to the finish.” As for the pack leaders, Dave Kalama took a commanding lead with a straight line into the channel while cousin Ekolu went south and disappeared from the pack and appeared to be out of the race.

Baxter, Trudon, Raaphorst, Menelau and Moller all took a higher line toward Molokai Point and tacked their way closer to the swell line which ran parallel to the island. “That was the hardest part, paddling on my left side trying to stay up (east) without drifting too south,” say 51-year old Scott Trudon, one of Maui’s elite who just missed out of the money, “but I gave it all I had.”

“But when we hit the line on Molokai, man that made me forget the whole first part. We were just running down the coast for about 8 miles,” which for the paddlers, was the last 8 mile stretch to the finish. That last stretch was where the pace of the race picked up as Dave Kalama and Connor Baxter battled for 90 minutes exchanging leads. Kalama had the lead up to that point but Baxter kept creeping in one him.

Five lead exchanges made this one of the most exciting races on the open water with both paddlers gliding up to 25 yards past each other. Sixteen year-old Baxter finally got the better of the two and past the first Kaunakakai buoy, Ekolu Kalama came from way south and pulled 50 yards right outside of him and caught a “bump” for a 30 yard lead.

Four miles from the finish, Baxter hit his stride after refueling from his boat crew and picked up a swell and rode for at least 200 yards and never let up putting everything he had on the line and raced to the end for an unbelievable time of 3:29:02 in winning the Elite and the 19 and under division. For Brazil’s Andrea Moller, who resides on Maui, her 3:53:20 gave her an overall 8th place finish and solidified her stance as the top woman in these types of conditions.

Said Moller, "I was behind the guys until we hit the run along the coast and that is my strength, surfing the bumps and I past a few guys along the way."For Baxter, who dropped to his board right after crossing the finish line two words said it all, "I'm spent".

Mormaii 27 Mile Molokai Pailolo Express Race Results (top ten)      
1. Connor Baxter (3:29:02) $4000.00
2. Ekolu Kalama (3:30:08) $2000.00
3. Dave Kalama (3:32:25) $1500.00
4. Livio Menelau (3:32:58) $100.00
5. Mark Raaphorst (3:37:17) $500.00
6. Scott Trudon (3:42:20)
7. Jeremy Riggs (3:44:01)
8. Andrea Moller (3:53:20)  $1000.00  (top woman)
9. Bart De Zwart (3:56:59)
10. Amir Arbel (3:59:04)

Last modified onFriday, 05 November 2010 09:59

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