July 31, 2016, Hawaii Kai, Oahu, Hawaii—The 25th annual Molokai2Oahu(M2O) Paddleboard Championship was held over the weekend, with world elite paddlers battling it out across 32-miles of the Kaiwi Channel. With this ocean crossing being regarded as the crowning achievement of the sport, the stakes were high as to who would win it this year. After a grueling battle from Molokai to Oahu, Kai Lenny took the win, setting a new world record in the unlimited class at 4 hours 7 minutes.
The swell and waves were fairly consistent compared to last year’s flatwater no-wind race. Kai established a prominent lead halfway through the race and was able to hold his position all the way through to the finish line— 3 minutes ahead of second place finisher Travis Grant. This marks Kai’s first M2O title in the unlimited class making him the record holder with the fastest unlimited time to date and adds to his still-standing SUP stock record of 2012.
When asked what this world title meant compared to all the others he has under his belt, Kai responded, “In a single event, this is, by far, the hardest event I’ve ever done in my life. And what I was constantly telling myself out there was: ‘OK, what would I rather do: take a 50-foot wave on the head at Jaws, or do this right now? OK, I’d rather do this right now…’ It’s just really special and surreal. I don’t really believe it honestly. It’s really a dream come true.”
Other podium finishes from Team Naish riders—paddling on their new Maliko 14’0” Carbon Elite race boards*—go to: Solo Paddlers: Yoshiaki Nagamatsu (1st Mens SUP STK) and Ethan Koopmans (Mens 3rd SUP STK) and Relay Teams: Schweiger/Bess (2nd SUP STK 14′ Team 2), Patterson/Scully (3rd SUP STK 14′ Team 2), Strickland Lum/Decoite/Rademacher (1st SUP Team 3 Female) and Mawae/Reickert/Fleck (SUP Team 3 Mixed).
Congratulations to everyone that paddled the challenging, yet rewarding channel crossing this year! For more photos from the race, go to @Molokai2Oahu.
*The new 2017 Maliko Carbon Elite race boards will be available August 17th.
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