BY JODI WILMOTT – The lineup of waterwomen for the 14th annual Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championship is easily the strongest in event history, particularly in the rapidly growing stand-up paddle (SUP) division. With five weeks remaining to race day, there are a record 12 solo women registered – five in traditional paddleboard and seven in SUP.
Each of these waterwomen, like their male counterparts, boast an uncanny ability to read the subtle differences in ocean conditions and adapt to them. Their common denominator is the pursuit of the ultimate experience on the day, which comes down to weighing up the elements, picking their approach to Oahu, and applying countless hours of preparation as perfectly as possible.

If the conditions do their part by delivering a decent swell and solid trade winds, these women will look to maximize their swell runs and minimize the host of small, costly errors that can plague the most seasoned racers on the day.

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Above: Kanesa Duncan Seraphin en-route to victory in 2009
Photo (L) Bernie Baker; (R) JeanneMariePhoto.com

“The growth in women’s paddleboarding over the past five years has been phenomenal,” said race director Mike Takahashi. “We have never seen this many women taking up solo Molokai crossings, and these are women who are not only taking up the ultimate ocean challenge, but also inspiring women everywhere to get in the water.”

Maile Shulbach, Marketing Coordinator of Patagonia Surf, sponsor of the championship, is equally thrilled with this year’s lineup of women: “These amazing women personify the type of active ocean lifestyle that we build clothing for. They truly embody what our brand is all about,” said Shulbach. “Outside of their athletic endeavors they also align closely with our philosophy and values. We are very excited to support a race that supports women of this caliber.”


WOMEN’S SOLO RECORDS:

Traditional paddleboard: Kanesa Duncan – 5:53:49, set in 2004
Stand-Up Paddle: Jenny Kalmbach – 6:18:31, set in 2009

KEY LADIES TO WATCH:

Kanesa Duncan Seraphin: (34), Hawaii, Solo Traditional Paddleboard Division: Kanesa is the defending and seven-time champion of the Molokai Channel. No woman has invested as much time and passion into this race than Kanesa and this year will mark her 10th consecutive crossing of the channel. Kanesa’s intrinsicconnection to the ocean pervades every aspect of her life, including work. She is the director of the Hawaii Sea Grant Center for Marine Science Education; heads up an aquatic science professional development project for Hawaii teachers; and has teamed up with NOAA to produce a Hawaii TV show about ocean science research. Over the past decade she has worked hard to perfect her style of traditional paddleboarding and has broken her own record more than once.

“Ultimately, my main competition is always me against the ocean,” says Kanesa. “I think that’s what is so special about crossing Kaiwi. You can be the last finisher and your accomplishment is still amazing.”

Jenny Kalmbach: (27), Big Island Hawaii, Solo SUP Division: Defending champion of the Molokai to Oahu solo SUP, this year Jenny will be challenged by the many women she inspired in 2009. Jenny and SUP partner Morgan Hoesterey recently completed an epic stand-up paddle between islands of Oahu and Kauai: 72 miles! It was the sixth leg of their seven Hawaii channel quest they’ve dubbed ‘Destination 3 Degrees‘, with a mission to raise awareness of one of the oceans’ most pressing issues: plastics contamination. Jenny and Morgan were the first women in history to make the crossing on paddleboards. There’s no question she is in prime shape for the Kaiwi!

On winning the Molokai-2-Oahu last year: “Crossing the finish line was…. well, I can’t describe exactly what it  felt like. For 8 months the race had taken over my life. I thought about it, dreamt about it, lost sleep over it, trained for it…and in 6hrs and 18minutes it was over.”

Ann Hettinger: 52, Kauai, Solo SUP Division: A self-confessed chain-smoking couch potato, Ann has taken her life 180 degrees and more than 3,200 miles to become a stand-up paddle junkie. Originally from Denver, Colorado, Ann visited Kauai and fell in love with the ocean way of life. First canoe paddling, then stand-up paddleboarding, Ann wasted little time in setting her sights on the ultimate paddle challenge: M2O. A grandmother, distance runner and motivator these days, Ann has documented her Molokai experience from the early training days to race day with the aim of producing a documentary: “32 Miles From Now“, by Hanalei Grass Shack Productions.

Andrea Moller: 30, Maui, Solo SUP Division: Winner of the 10-mile Distance Race of the Rainbow Sandals Battle of the Paddle Hawaii in June, and the 2010 Olukai Ho’olaule’a race in Maui in May where she won both the OC1 and SUP divisions on consecutive days. Andrea is highly accomplished across many ocean sports. From surfing the giant waves of Peahi, Maui, to windsurfing, paddleboarding, SUP, and outrigger canoe paddling, Andrea’s athleticism is tough to beat – particularly over long distances and in intense conditions.

Candice Appleby: 24, Honolulu/San Clemente, Solo Stand-Up Paddle Division: Winner of the Rainbow Sandals Battle of the Paddle Hawaii women’s Elite race, Candice is a driven powerhouse on the water and is tough to beat in middle distance and sprint races. Perhaps one of the most dedicated of SUP surfers on the planet when it comes to training, fitness, preparation and focus. A highly competitive athlete who thrives on pressure, Candice will be looking to prove herself on the channel this year.

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