Molokai 2 Oahu: The Lead Up
Molokai 2 Oahu has been the race I've focused my season around for the past few years. It takes a lot of commitment, organisation and basically all around preparation to get to the start line, let alone a shot at a podium. 2019 was my fifth year competing in the channel of Bones and to be honest, less than a month out from the race I felt like it was my worst lead up yet in terms of hours on water and injuries.
Due to a range of factors I’d only managed to do one paddle over two and a half hours, on top of that I'd done some minor damage to my left shoulder while surfing over in the Maldives, meaning I had to really monitor my training load. Normally, a month out I was pretty well ready to go, this year was going to have to be different.
I decided to head over for a week, a month out from M2O to get a bit of time on the big boards in wind and see where I was at competitively. There were three races that week, the Molokai Holokai weekend, which consisted of a Maui 2 Molokai and a Kamalo Run, and the Da Hui Race on Oahu’s North Shore. Much to my surprise I ended up with some good results, a second place in the Maui 2 Molokai, Travis and I relegating Connor to third place for the first time ever in a Maui 2 Molokai, followed by two wins in the slightly less competitive Kamalo Run and Da Hui Race. Safe to say my confidence was up following the trip and I was ready for the last few weeks of preparation for the big dance, Molokai 2 Oahu.
While home training in the cold westerlies, rumours started surfacing that Travis had hurt himself in a six man race and was pulling out of Molokai 2 Oahu. This as well as the news that Connor had chosen to race in the history making Pan American Games instead of Molokai 2 Oahu meant the two people that had beaten me last year and won seven of the last eight Molokai 2 Oahu’s were no longer racing. I didn't know how to feel about the news as obviously I wanted to beat the best out in the channel but now the race was wide open and I had been named as the favourite by SUP RACER.
I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the favourite tag as world beater Michael Booth would be on the SUP start line for the first time and Japanese paddling legend Kenny Kaneko was returning after a few years away from the Kaiwi Channel. Despite the SUP unlimited field being without a past winner, it was going to be a real battle across the channel and one that I knew these two would be taking to me. I was confident my experience in the channel the past five years would help but anything can happen out there and I was treating the race with the utmost respect.