MAUI, Hawaii - Connor Baxter just made history in the stand up paddling world as he just recently won his 8th consecutive Maui-2-Molokai event, claiming the longest winning streak in SUP. Here, Baxter recounts his historic win.
This years 8th Annual Maui-2-Molokai was another epic battle and channel crossing. Coming straight from Europe after two months of flatwater racing I was jumping up-and-down like a kid ready to race downwind. I got back to Maui on Wednesday night - so I only had two days to recoup before the race. I got a few warm-up Maliko runs in before Saturday.
The forecast looked great - Northeast 15-20 mph. The morning of the race we had to get to our boat at 6:30am. We loaded up the boards and headed up to Honolua Bay from Lahaina. The race was an early start at 9:30 am and my dad then blasted up to Honolua - for the start of the 27-mile, 3-hour paddle!
Connor Baxter riding bumps at the 2017 Maui-2-Molokai Race. | Photos: Karen Baxter
The wind was up early and I knew that there was going to be some bumps out there. I unloaded my unlimited and got warmed up for a bit before we started. On the start line I saw Travis Grant, James Casey and Kody Kerbox. I knew I was going to have to paddle hard and catch a lot of bumps in order to win my 8th straight channel crossing.
I jumped into the water and got cooled off right before the horn blew. I took off hard, but I knew it was going to be a long race and I just had to wait until the bumps. The wind was up and we got into some small chop and James, Travis and I started to pull away from the group. The bumps started to get better and better the more into the race I got.
Connor Baxter and Travis Grant going head-to-head. | Photo: Karen Baxter
After the first hour, the three of us were still catching bumps next to each other and then Travis caught a massive bump and just ran with it. Once he got this gap I didn't stop chasing him until the last 6 miles. That next hour and half I was getting some insane bumps, but Travis just stayed the same distance in front. It wasn't until I got to the Kamalo Buoy when I just put my head down and started having fun. Getting some long glides and slowly catching up to Travis.
Travis went more North - more on an inside line - closer to Molokai. Whereas I stayed outside where the bumps were just going off. I got even with him with about 6 miles to go and I knew what I had to do. I got into my typical rhythm and just started to have some fun. I was getting some insane steep glides and surfing left to right. I noticed the warehouse building at the harbor and saw that I was a safe distance in front of Travis, which gave me chicken skin knowing that I just won my 8th straight Maui to Molokai! I finished with a time of 3:09 - not beating my record of 2:55 - but that day was nuking wind!
Connor Baxter coming in for the win (R) and Connor Baxter with his fellow paddlers. | Photos: Karen Baxter
I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Salt Life, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Futures Fins, Dakine, Hammer Nutrition, GoPro, Garmin, Waterman’s Sunscreen, OnIt Pro, UB Super and Hi-Tech Sports.