The 9th Annual Maui to Molokai was another grind but as always one of the best channels to cross.
From the first time I crossed this channel windsurfing at 8 1/2 years old, I fell in love with the big open ocean and how you can really just be present in the moment and your own thoughts! This channel crossing is 27 miles long in a straight line and finishes with 12 miles of gliding if the conditions are there.
The race started at 9 am and the wind was up bright & early with all of us paddlers. I was super excited to get on the water and go for my 9th straight victory on this run. Tuning everything out on the start line and just focusing on how much fun this downwind run is – got me fired up.
The horn blew and I jumped straight to my feet and started paddling towards Molokai. It is a long race, so I paced myself in the beginning when the bumps were small and harder to catch. James Casey and I jumped into the lead right away, with James just in front of me!
Going downwind I love having someone to chase down, so I got into my flow state and just slowly reeled him in. We both went back and forth for the first two hours, but once I got into the slot (the last 12 or 10 miles), I put all of my focus into surfing and catching every single bump – big or little I caught one really good bump that leads me into another bump, which gave me a nice comfortable lead in front of James.
At this point, I had already drunk through my first 2 litres of water and It was time for an exchange for my boat. My dad and I feel super comfortable driving and paddling close by each other, so as always he got in front of me and I jumped on a bump straight to the boat where my mom handed me my fresh camel pack. Once I had it on my back, I went straight back into beast mode and kept the hammer down.
The last hour of the race I made sure to stay ahead and surf every bump out there. The closer I got to the finish, the more my body felt fatigued, but I wanted my 9th straight victory and to be the only kid/man that has ever won this race.
Connecting bump to bump, glide to glide, all the way to the finish line. I finished with a time of 3:19 which was longer than normal, because of the tide and current working against us. Overall a great event and can’t wait to go for number 10 next year.
I want to thank my major sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Salt Life, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Harmless Harvest Coconut Water. And my product sponsors Dakine, Hammer Nutrition, GoPro, OnIt Pro and Hi-Tech Sports.
Also a big Mahalo to all the Event Organizers, Event Sponsors and volunteers.
~ Connor Baxter
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Photos: Karen Baxter