Mitchell Faces Technical Challenges at Molokai-2-Oahu World Paddleboard Championship

Above: Jamie Mitchell, 8x Molokai2Oahu champion. Photo: Bernie Baker
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Above: Jamie Mitchell, 8x Molokai2Oahu champion. Photo: Bernie Baker

BY JODI WILMOTT – HONOLULU — Eight-time Molokai-2-Oahu World Paddleboard Champion Jamie Mitchell (Australia) faces a tough title defense in Hawaii this Sunday with technical seas and an unforeseen rival set to test his mettle. With a record field of over 140 athletes from 12 nations, expect the fiercest channel challenge in the race’s 14-year history.


Hawaii’s Mikey Cote, record holder in the shorter 12-foot paddleboard Stock class of the Molokai-2-Oahu, has announced that he has made a last minute decision to race in the Unlimited paddleboard class, pitching him against Mitchell for the first time.

“If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” said Mitchell of the unpredictability of the channel and the competition. “It’s hard enough just getting to the starting line with all that you’ve got to organize, your nutrition, hydration, your escort boat. Combine the 32 miles, currents, sharks, heat and dehydration… then the unpredictability of what’s going to be happening out there.

“But it’s a good pressure because it makes me step my game up. For me, it’s exciting to the see the young kids and the older experienced guys surging because it makes me train harder and go faster. It’s fun because it’s taking the whole sport to another level and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

Cote is excited to tackle the Unlimited class but won’t admit to having an eye on Mitchell. “Just making the transition to the unlimited class is enough to think about,” said Cote. “Maybe I picked the wrong year to do it!” he joked, referencing the conditions that many expect might ‘fit’ the shorter Stock paddleboards. Unlimited class boards run 16 feet and longer.

The technical nature of the conditions and abundance of swell will also be a true test for the stand-up paddle competitors, who will have to endure over five hours of turbulence on their feet. Defending champions Ekolu Kalama (Molokai) and Jenny Kalmbach (Big Island) will be drawing on every ounce of their channel experience to combat their challengers.

Sunday’s ocean outlook is for a fast race: 20-knot trade winds, steep swells of 6-8 feet, and an advantageous incoming tide. The technical aspect comes in the shorter period swell of just 5- to 7-seconds. Mitchell is known for being a master ‘surfer’ on the open ocean, meaning that he has an unrivaled ability to link together long swell trains to ‘surf’ his way across the channel. A shorter period swell is somewhat of an equalizer and will make for a strategic course with many challengers.

Paddlers from Australia, Hawaii, USA East and West, New Zealand, Singapore, France, Spain, England, Brazil and Japan are among those competing in the Molokai-2-Oahu World Paddleboard Championship on Sunday.

There will also be a finish line Expo with 12 vendors as well as a stand-up paddle demo day presented by C4 Waterman at Maunalua Bay, Hawaii Kai, Oahu.

14th Annual Molokai-2-Oahu World Paddleboard Championship
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Finish: Maunalua Bay, Oahu – around 12 noon.

  • Men’s Record: 4:48:23 – Jamie Mitchell (Australia, 2007)
  • Women’s Record: 5:53:49 – Kanesa Duncan (Hawaii, 2004)
  • Paddlers: Traditional, Stand-Up Paddle, Men & Women, Individual & Team
  • Beneficiaries: 32::32

Jodi Wilmott of Ocean Promotion submitted this story