Palm Cove, Cairns. Dean Gardener, fresh from his incredible 4th placing in this year’s Moloka’i Challenge took line honors in Sunday’s 40km downwind epic between Northern Queensland’s Palm Cove and Port Douglas, in sweet South Easterly downwind conditions.
Covering the distance of 52km from Kaluakoi resort on the beautiful island of Molokai across the open water of the Kaiwi Channel to Hawaii Kai Town Center on the island of Oahu, this is Molokai, arguably the most prestigious single event in surfski paddling.
Yep, it’s that time of year again when all eyes turn to the long range forecast for the Kaiwi Channel. Will it be the raging open ocean downwind mayhem that made this race famous, or a hot, oily-calm killer? It’s a massive challenge either way.
The Aussies showed up in force, but where were the South Africans? Hank McGregor, Lightie Pretorius and the Chalupsky brothers, who'd combined to win 15 Molo titles, were no-shows, as was perennial top-dog Dawid Mocke. In fact, the field featured just one Springbok of note.
I arrived in Hawaii a zombie, shredded by passing through 12 time zones, 2 hemispheres and 36 hours squeezed in an aluminum tube at 36 000 feet. My body which I’d been surgically sculpting for many months was stiff and sore, my mind delirious.
Editor: Andrew Wheeler came 23rd overall this year out of 55 finishers in blazing hot conditions... This is his story - Molo from a mid-packer's point of view! (Next up we'll have the story from the pointy end.)
On Sunday, May 15, 2011, I did something I’d wanted to do since I was ten years old: I raced in the Molokai World Surfski Championships.
Ever since I saw Magnum, P.I. training for this annual Hawaiian event, I’d wanted to be part of Molokai. The race begins on the island of Molokai, crosses the Ka’iwi Channel — considered one of the roughest ocean channels in the world – and finishes at Hawaii Kai on Oahu. The distance is around 32 nautical miles.