Crossing the Kaiwi channel - Molokai Challenge and World Surfski Championships

 What a couple of weeks I've had, preparing for my second Molokai to Oahu channel crossing. This year I arrived a little over a week before the race giving myself some time to recover and get over jet lag. For those who don't know what the Molokai Challenge and World Surfski Championships is, it is a 53km (32 mile) channel crossing from the island of Molokai to the island of Oahu. The race starts on the western side of the island on Kaluakoi Beach and the finish line was at the Maunalua Beach Park, Hawaii Kai. 

This year I used an Epic V14 in the ultra layup as I made the step up from Epic's V10L late last year. For the past 20 weeks I have been training hard with Clint Robinson back home on the Sunshine Coast (which is just 1 hour North of Brisbane, Queensland). This year I finished 2nd in my age group of 19-29's and 22nd in Open men Solo surf ski, with a time of 4 hours 17 mins. Which was 12 mins quicker than last years time and  1 position better!

When doing this race you have 3 main options on when/how to get to the island of Molokai, some fly the day before the race, some fly race morning of and others catch their escort boat over the morning of or the night before. Flying into Molokai on the Friday posed a serious mishap, firstly I had my sunscreen taken off me by airport security, then when I arrived on Molokai at midday my Esky (cooler) bag didn’t follow me. I was left on Molokai without my breakfast and dinner food, but most importantly my fluids for the race.  For those who haven’t been on Molokai, there is a tiny convenience store that has a few supplies. I was lucky to arrive there early enough to purchase the last dozen eggs a bit of bacon and a ton of water. The only thing I was missing now was my Thorzt and Vitrago(race nutrition) and my water bottles. Knowing that there was another flight coming in at 6:15pm it put my mind at ease, in the meantime I was just staying relaxed and hoping my cooler bag would arrive. 7:00pm came and my cooler bag arrived, thankful to everyone who had aided in the return of my bag.

Race morning came; I woke up with nerves and excitement in my body, the feeling of what I had worked for finally arrived. Both my roommate Steve Dalton and myself woke up around the same time, getting ready for our start time, which was at 10:30 with the Elite men. At the time of applying sunscreen I thought I was going to be wearing the race t-shirt, but 20 minutes before the start I decided that I wanted to cut the sleeves and wear a singlet. Little did I know I forgot about the sunscreen and now as you can see in the picture of Koko Head I got absolutely burnt.

The channel this year had good conditions, a large amount of wind coming from the NE at about 15-20 knots and 1.5m swell coming from the North. The start wasn’t as hard and fast as last year, last year there were two main groups one with the top South African’s and one with the top Australians. This year all the top paddlers went in one main group towards the north and after a while all I could see were the big Epic Kayak Feathers on the escort boat bobbing up and down.

During the first few stages of the race I felt really comfortable, setting a nice pace, drinking regularly. I kept getting calls out from my escort boat saying how high I was from our set position and how far away from Portlock Point (China Wall). The first 2 hours went by quickly, having the goal of going under 4 hours I was sitting on track at half way. As the race progressed fatigue started to settle in more and more. With about 10-15km to finish one of the USS destroyer’s decided to take a strong left turn. Separating Oahu and me as they passed on the landside of my boat. This Navy vessel was huge, to see one up close when you are sitting water level is just incredible. Not long after that it came time to try my luck at the ‘dangerous’ section of the race, negotiating China wall and the reefs that surround it. Remembering the knowledge from last years race I decided to stick with my gut and paddle close to the wall to gain any advantage of speed that I could by catching waves. Slowly but surely I was gaining distance on fellow paddler Mike Murphy, then Mike caught a nice wave that just doubled the gap I had tried to close. Coming from a surf life saving background it helped me giving the mindset that its never over. I then linked up a small runner that turned into a wave, and another. A tough paddle became even tougher with another surge for a wave and a cramp in my left hand, trying to shake it off I pushed for another wave this time the cramp spread up my forearm and into my bicep, with less than 500m to go I just kept pushing and pushing toward the finish line. To be completely honest I was so incredibly happy to jump off my ski and into the water after I crossed the finish line, just to soak and let what I have just completed for a second time sink in. Then to talk to my friends and family who had cheered me across the finish line, thank you to those who came to the finish line, I appreciate it.

Below is the video of Ian Wright, Mike Murphy and myself crossing the finish line

For me the Molokai is a challenge, it’s an event that can either be cranking downwind or it can be an absolute slog pushing into side chop or a head wind. Because of this you have to train for it, and I’m the type of person that has to commit 110% its either all or nothing, so it had taken a lot out of me. But I have thoroughly enjoyed training for this event, to my friends and family that have supported me I say thank you. Firstly I would like to make mention to a gentleman of the sport, I met him last year at the Molokai event, and unfortunately I heard of his passing on the way to the airport, to Joe Glickman and his Family and the paddling community we have truly lost a great character #OMMFG, Thank you for the chats last year I truly enjoyed them, thank you Mate. Epic Kayaks International and Epic Kayaks Australia Thank you for supply myself with such EPIC gear to paddle, Scotty from Performance Paddles I can be a challenging costumer but thank you for helping me out with fantastic paddles. CK and Sharlene from Mass Nutrition Noosa for pushing me in the right direction with supplements and race nutrition a Massive thank you, it helped me through the race majorly. To the active, social and the life members of Mooloolaba Surf Club, I have been incredibly blessed with an amazing club with awesome training facilities it definitely makes going early to train or leaving late at night a whole lot easier. Karel Tresnak Junior and Senior for escorting me across the channel, without your help the channel crossing would have been a lot harder than it was thank you.  To everyone I met in Hawaii, you all made the stay a lot easier (easier than it already was). Last but not least I owe a lot to this man, Clint Robinson (and Sarah Robinson), since the very first day you have always pushed me. Thank you for being such a great training partner, day in day out, we rocked up to ‘Neil’s’ and ventured up stream. I really appreciate what everyone has done to help me, and hopefully I inspire some of you to start paddling, maybe not the Molokai itself but in any paddling discipline or event.

Steve Dalton and I 

Now its time to relax and prepare to cross the ditch (Pacific Ocean) again to Compete in the Canadian Surfski Championships and North America’s new event the Gorge Paddling Festival on July 18th / 19th and July 24th / 25th.  

Below I have attached the websites/facebook pages of what I use, check it out.

Performance Paddles-
Mocke Paddling-

Mahalo, Enjoy your week on or off the water! #OMMFG

Ryan Paroz


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