Molokai 2 Oahu: Race Day
I had arrived on Molokai the Friday before the race to settle in and get comfortable at Kaluakoi. There's always an overwhelming sense of relief once you make it to the condos with all your supplies, ready to paddle over to Oahu. There's nothing else to do but put your feet up and rest.
I don't like getting to a race early, waiting around soaking up all the nervous energy, it's not how I train. For those who know me, I usually get to training as late as possible without missing it entirely. Race day is no different. I was the second last to tick my name off and pick up my tracker and was still loading up my support boat when the gun went off for the prone start. I managed a quick moment as I pushed off the sand to think about all the hard work that had been done, the cause I was paddling for, Brain Cancer Research in honour of my Dad's current battle, and the overwhelming support I had received from the entire paddling and greater community, raising over $25,000 and hundreds of messages of support and encouragement. These were my inspirations that I used for the race but I didn't let them overwhelm me. I had a quick moment and went about my race like I did during training. I'd use the inspiration when the going got tough.
On the way out to the start line I detoured a little to get in a decent warm up and waited on the start line for no longer than five minutes. For me it was the perfect start. Any longer and I feel the nervous energy takes a toll.
The race started with Boothy setting a fast pace early, with Kenny and I hanging back a bit. I was happy for Boothy to lead off at the start, the bumps were only small to begin with and it's a long race, it wasn't going to be won in the first hour. Despite this I still didn't want to give him too much of a head start.
Forty five minutes into the race and Boothy and I had engaged in a pretty good battle. We traded the lead multiple times, even surfed the same bumps metres apart from time to time, with a few stoked out words being exchanged, I was impressed with how well Boothy was paddling and the bumps were super fun. We went back and forth until about the 2 hour mark. Boothy was in the lead at the time and he fell off right in front of me and I overtook him, this was obviously a sign he was tiring. Within seconds of falling off he was back on his board and paddling past me. My boat yelled at me to stay with him but I knew how much he must've been hurting and was putting on a brave face. It was the beginning of his fatigue setting in.
In the next 20 to 40 minutes there were multiple times where I thought it'd be the last I saw of Boothy. To his credit he kept on fighting back. I focused on myself and did my best to continue linking bumps and conserve when I could.
I finally got a decent lead after Boothy's first bag change. My team told me to really put in and stretch the gap out before I did my bag change. The 20 to 30 minute period before my bag change is when I feel I won the race. I managed to put some solid ground in between us, finding and linking bumps that I had previously never found after the 3 hour mark in this race, conditions were truly epic this year.
We conducted a textbook bag change and then my team shifted focus from racing Boothy to racing for the record. Personally I was never too fazed about the record, I was more concerned about winning the race, but I wasn't going to turn down an opportunity at it.
I was feeling good until about 3km out from China Wall. The bumps seemed to only be going left or against me and I really needed to be surfing right or straight. The closer I got the less bumps I caught as the wind that had helped all this way started turning against me.
Serious muscle fatigue meant every change of sides risked a cramp. I really dig deep during this period. Focussed on catching a decent bump and surfing it for as far as I could in the right direction. I really began to hurt as I approached the wall and used my Dad's battle with Brain Cancer and all the support I had received as my drive. I dug deep but was aware that if l pushed too hard I risked cramping and blowing the lead i had over Boothy. I shifted my focus on finishing in the lead rather than finishing in record time.
As I turned China Wall a massive headwind greeted me. I was still a shot at the record but I was going to need a bit of luck with waves. Unfortunately any wave I got close to I was blown off the back of. I didn't have enough left in the tank and ended up missing the record by about 3 minutes. I was the second fastest across the channel, behind Travis Grant's time in 2017.
Kai finished just ahead of me on the foil, in just under 2.5 hours and congratulated me just after I crossed the line. We embraced, had a moment and then he said 'your dad was already proud of you but now he's even more proud'. It meant a lot, especially at the time so thanks Kai.
To cross that finish line after 5 years of trying to win, this time with the pressure of being the favourite and paddling for my Dad and everyone who had supported me was truly overwhelming. There were multiple tears, mainly of joy, partly in pain, but overall pure elation. I had achieved my goal and was so happy to be able to do it for my Dad.