Last weekend, the legendary race Molokai 2 Oahu took place for the 21st time with the grueling 32 mile crossing of the Ka’iwi Channel between the two hawaiian Islands. M2O as it’s abbreviated is considered one of the most difficult races in the world.
Penelope Strickland took an amazing victory this year in the women’s division in front of the upset favorites. You can find her recap of this emotional race below.
Connor Baxter who has already won this event three times (2011-2012-2014), was leading the whole race alongside Travis Grant and 1 mile from the finish were still shoulder to shoulder. But in that last mile, Travis took his third M2O victory setting a new record time of less than 4 hours while Connor came in second less than 4 minutes later behind Travis.
Also congratulations to Tiki Grom duet Lara Claydon and Kali’a Alexiou who won this year the 2 women relay on their 14’0” x 25.5” for second consecutive year.
And Japanese team rider Tomo Murabayashi finished on the podium in third position in the 14’0” class making it even more difficult than riding an Unlimited board.
You can find Connor’s and Lara’s recap below Penelope’s
Congrats again to the Starboard Dream Team ! #LiveTheTikiLife
PENELOPE STRICKLAND recap.
I still can’t believe I won the M2O this year – it was a race that was not without its challenges, and even more so than previous years.
I was meant to race stock in 2017 and really wanted to race a starboard ACE14 x 25 which is my favourite board however I couldn’t get one on Maui and in the weeks leading up to M2O I bought Matt Nottage’s board from 2016 which is like an Unlimited ACE. I didn’t have much time to get used to it but I backed myself in that I had done enough work on an ACE that it would work for me in the channel.
On race day my support boat didn’t show up which meant while all the other competitors were warming up I was crying on the beach, desperately trying to secure a substitute boat. When the race started I was 50m behind the start line, facing the opposite direction trying to bring my heart rate down. I watched as everyone sprinted off and took my time to find my rhythm. Almost immediately I started catching little glides that took me past paddler after paddler and after the first 3 kilometres I had worked my way through the pack and was with the front girls. My nerves and being on an unfamiliar board kept getting the better of me though, and in the first hour I must have fallen 10 times. However, as I tuned into the board I stopped falling and I started to get some awesome runs.
When my brother jumped in to give me my first water pack change at the 75 minute mark he told me I had 500m on the other girls, I was surprised but blocked it out knowing the race was long and that gap could easily be eroded. I went back to chasing bumps and thought of nothing else.
At water pack change 2, my brother advised me I was over a mile in front. However, I was convinced that it was a mistake, I asked them to re-check – I went back to chasing bumps and thought of nothing else.
At waterpark change 3, my brother advised me that I had a couple of miles on the girls and I had now passed most of the men. The Molokai is a unique race in that frequently you don’t see your competition till you come together at China Walls so I assumed that (again) this was a mistake. I went back to chasing bumps …..
As China Walls loomed the water turned like a washing machine, it was heaving and although I wasn’t falling my legs started to turn to jelly. I was watching the time tick over, knowing what the world record was I knew I could break it, but the current was really strong and every glide was hard fought. When I rounded the wall the headwind was stronger than I have ever felt it. With the press boat cheering me on I hammered home with as much energy as I could. When I crossed the line I looked at my clock I knew I had done it but when they confirmed over the loud speaker my time was the new world record I was ecstatic.
The Molokai is such a prestigious event and I feel amazingly lucky to join the ranks of people who have won in the past. I am so thankful for Starboard and my Starboard extended family (Bart, Connor and Sonni) for the help and encouragement they offered leading up to this race, the race organisers and my awesome Big Brother Matt for stepping in and taking control with the support boat fiasco.
Team Work makes the Dream Work – Thank you, let’s see what 2018 brings xxx
CONNOR BAXTER recap.
The 2017 Molokai was one for the record books with so incredible conditions. The channel the last few years have not been all time but this year was definitely on and the wind was up. The race started at 8 am so I was up at 5 eating breakfast. After the blessing I started to get warmed up for the start of a long paddle. The wind was up early and out at sea there were white caps building already.
Five minutes before the start I got lined up and started to get pumped up. The horn blew and I jumped to my feet with some quick strokes to get my board moving. The bumps were small but everyone had a good pace that lasted for the first hour and a half. James, Travis and Lincoln were all hammering so I kept up my pace and tried to surf as many bumps as possible. Around the two hour mark Travis and I took the lead and from that moment on we just wouldn’t let the other get too far ahead. We went back and fourth for the next two hours not letting off the throttle. When we turned into port lock to head in towards Hawaii Kai the wind was up and Travis was right on my tail. I was able to hold him off for a bit but one wave made the difference and he caught it and I missed it. This gave him a huge gap and I was broken. I push hard to the beach to finish with 4:03 and looking forward to doing even better next year.
Two time- 2 person women’s relay Molokai 2 Oahu Champs! With a time of 5:33 hrs./sec and 32 miles. Amazing day in the channel with good downwind bumps! Couldn’t have done it without my badass partner @lalaclaydon paddling so hard the entire way. I have to say this is the hardest race I’ve ever done yesterday but paddling out in the deep blue of the channel is one of the best feelings and I’m so grateful to be able to do this. Congrats to all the teams, solo athletes and my friends who crossed the channel on this record breaking day! 💙 #molokai2oahu2017 #m2o #kaiwe #backtoback #beatlastyear #quickblade #futuressup thank you @molokai2oahu !
LARA CLAYDON recap.
This summer has been awesome, I raced in the M2M Challenge which was the Maui2Molokai crossing! I took 2nd in the Junior Girls & 4th for overall Women! Also getting my best time for solo crossing with a time of 4:16:09! I also raced in the M4M Holoka’i race and took 2nd in the Junior Girls. Which put me in 2nd overall for the combination of both the M2M Challenge & M4M Holoka’i! Great events!
After that race I decided to go to Oahu and serve underprivileged kids at a Young Life camp for a week! I was a server, where upon we served the kids three meals a day. I was very thankful that I had the opportunity.
Recently, last Sunday me and my teammate Kali’a Alexiou did the Molokai2Oahu (M2O) World Championship race! The conditions were perfect, it was windy and blue skies. Kali’a and I ended up defending our title from last year and took 1st in the 2-Women Relay 14′ stock division! Also beating our time from last year which was 5:40:19 & this year was 5:33:00!
Thank you so much for ALL your support I could not have done it without Starboard!
I used the 2014 14′ x 25.5 Ace and it worked amazing !