HONOLULU, Hawaii (July 27, 2014) – A year after the Ka’iwi Channel delivered a thrashing to each paddler in the 2013 race, today’s waters surprised an international field of top paddleboarders by delivering fast conditions. The result produced new records and a host of new champions at the 18th annual Molokai-2-Oahu Paddleboard World Championships (M2O).
New records came from three paddlers in differing disciplines who represent some of the youngest champions in race history.
For Connor Baxter (Starboard), the strong wind swells generated enough energy for the 19-year-old stand-up paddleboarder (SUP) to propel into a new world record time of 4 hours, 8 minutes, 8 seconds across the Ka’iwi Channel. Baxter, a skilled Maui down-winder beat his former record by more than five minutes to best 2013 champion Travis Grant who finished second (4:09:15).
Jordan Mercer used the waves to glide into race history by setting the record for the most consecutive wins of any woman in race history. Mercer did not beat her record time of 5:22:31 set in 2011, but her finish time of 5:33:23 in the traditional (prone) paddleboard division was enough to earn the 20-year-old Australian four straight wins.
Mercer’s record came on the same day when the winningest woman in race history, Kanesa Duncan-Seraphin, returned to competition on her prone board after taking a year off. Duncan-Seraphin today finished second (5:55:06) and now boasts 13 channel crossings under her belt and eight championships since 2001.
Another record fell in the men’s prone stock paddleboard race, which proved to be one of the most hotly contested races in years. At one point in mid-channel, five competitors were paddling head-to-head, swapping “runners” as each athlete jockeyed for position. In the end, Jack Bark broke free from the pack to claim his second M2O title (5:12:35) in world record fashion. At the age of 20, the Los Angeles athlete is one of the youngest champions to claim two titles at M2O.
Matt Poole, 26, maintained the Australian stronghold in the traditional unlimited paddleboard race by winning his first M2O in a time of 4:52:02. Poole’s performance established the 13th straight year an Australian has stood atop the podium and earned him the fifth fastest finish time in race history.
Poole’s predecessor, two-time champ Brad Gaul, crossed over to the SUP division this year to race on a two-man team with friend and legendary surfer Tom Carroll. Gaul, who seemed unbeatable in his 2013 win (5:05:32) admitted to a twinge of envy at the finish line after experiencing the spirit of the channel this year. Gaul remarked he will return to solo prone competition in 2015 with a renewed sense of hunger.
In the women’s SUP race, German Sonni Hoenscheid won in 5:12:38. Hoenscheid, 33, now holds the third fastest time in race history after finishing third in her first solo attempt at M2O last year.
After winning the flat-water Catalina Classic last year, 22-year-old Carter Graves won the women’s prone stock race in her first outing at M2O. The Coronado, California resident was overcome with emotion at the finish line as she reflected on her accomplishment. She said she would return to Hawaii next year for another go at the Ka’iwi Channel.
Hawaii’s Travis Baptiste, 17, won the men’s stock SUP race in a time of 4:23:54. This is the second fastest time in the category behind Kai Lenny’s record of 4:22:14.
About the Moloka’i-2-O’ahu Paddleboard World Championships, presented by Kona Longboard Island Lager
The 18th edition of the Moloka’i-2-O’ahu Paddleboard World Championships (M2O), presented by Kona Longboard Island Lager, is set for Sunday, July 27, 2014. Founded in 1997, M2O has grown from a grassroots challenge for the legendary lifeguards of O’ahu to the premiere event in the sport of paddleboarding. The race annually crowns world champions in the two disciplines of traditional (prone) and stand-up (SUP) paddleboarding. Connecting the islands of Moloka’i and O’ahu, the 32-mile race crosses the Ka’iwi Channel, also known as the Moloka’i Channel. Men and women from 20 countries will face strong currents as they navigate the fastest downwind-route over one of the most beautiful and powerful channels in the world. Top athletes can complete the crossing in less than five hours, riding mid-channel waves that crest more than 12 feet and carry paddlers hundreds of meters. M2O starts on Kaluakoi Beach on the north shore of Molokai and finishes in Maunalua Bay on the south shore of O’ahu. The annual race is a deeply personal experience, challenging every paddler’s physical and mental endurance. Every finisher experiences an individual championship.
Report via the official site for Molokai 2 Oahu.