One of the most difficult and famous SUP race in the world took place on Sunday: the 32 mile channel of bones crossing between Molokai to Oahu. Connor Baxter, who has already won four times this race finished third this year and sent us his recap of the race that you can find here below.
“The 2016 Molokai2Oahu Championships was a big turn out with some tough competition. This is one of the biggest events in Hawaii for stand up paddling.
This event takes place the same time every year – end of July. This year was the 20th anniversary for the event. And my 8th time doing it. The first time I crossed the Ka’iwi Channel – I was 14 years old.
For me, the whole mission starts on Thursday, when my family and I take our boat to the West end of Molokai. Unfortunately, my sister Ashley could not come this year and was sorely missed.
When we headed over on Thursday, the wind was cranking – so I had to jump on my downwind foil board. After a fun adventure day, I had all day Friday and Saturday to relax and prepare for the channel.
Unfortunately the wind was forecasted to drop on the day of the race, but at least everyone was in the same waters. After a great opening ceremony on Saturday evening, I got a huge meal in me and a good night of sleep, knowing I had a long day ahead of me.
The next morning I was up and eating at 5:00, to make sure I had a good breakfast in me with lots of time to digest it. I got warmed up, stretched and prepared my gear for battle and headed to the start line. Everyone was sitting down lined up waiting for the horn to blow and as soon as it sounded everyone was off like it was a 10 mile race. All the guys were putting 100% into trying to get an early lead. It took about 30 minutes until I started to catch some small bumps and as soon as that happened I went into my zone and found my rhythm.
During the first part of the channel the conditions were all time and definitely were a few moments where things lined up for me. Two hours into it, I was upwind of Kai and Travis and we all were pushing hard. I just tried to focus on conserving energy for the end. The next thing I looked up and I had fallen back a bit from Kai, but was still in front of Travis.
The closer I got to Oahu the waters and conditions got harder and harder. Less surfing and more muscles to get through the chop and as soon as that happened, Travis quickly caught up and passed me.
At this point, I was mentally broken and confused, because I have put in so much time and effort into training and crossing channels, but sometimes it just takes more. Therefore, next year I will train even harder and be stronger and more prepared.
Having plenty of space to think and paddle, I found a comfortable pace to be able to hold on to third place overall.
Being on the top it is hard to come out of the race learning and this year I learned a lot. So stoked on another great year racing the channel of bones and will be back again.
Thanks so much to my support team: mom, dad and girlfriend – couldn’t have done it without you.
I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Dakine, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Futures Fins, Hammer Nutrition, GoPro, Garmin, Waterman’s Sunscreen, OnIt Pro, UB Super and Hi-Tech Sports.
Also a big Mahalo to all the event organizers and all the volunteers. Great Event! And looking forward to next year!