Molokai Challenge 2016



Arriving a week earlier has not only allowed me to adapt to the time zone change but also to the different climate. With the temperature on the Sunshine Coast starting to drop as the season changes to winter, the Hawaiian summer is only just starting. The first couple of days were hard on the hands with the water heating them up and gripping them a little more than usual creating some small blisters. Unfortunately though for the last three years, the wind has been cranking the week leading into the race and then has lost its steam for race day, in saying this I did get a couple of great downwind paddles before the race.

Saturday morning came around pretty quick, it was time to start loading skis and getting ready for a 1:00 departure to Molokai. We loaded our skis onto LJ’s boat and they were ready to go, now it was just time for myself and my room mates to get our gear ready for the race and Island. Whenever I’m packing for a race I like to work from my toes up to my head with my race gear and what I need also I write down a list of all the items and tick them off as I pack them. Starting with my legs packing 2XU long tights (http://www.2xu.com/us/p/elite-mcs-compression-tights/MA3062b.html?dwvar_MA3062b_color=BLK_GLD#start=1 ) , Vaikobi V heat race shorts (http://www.vaikobi.com/products/v-sprint-paddle-short-green ), after my legs I work up to my torso packing Vaikobi V light race singlet- Australia (http://www.vaikobi.com/products/v-breathe-singlet ), Oakley M-frame glasses and finally a light hat, also getting thrown into my dry bag is sunscreen/zinc, my Garmin watch and all of my drinking systems for the race. Below is a picture of my race gear for Molokai challenge 2016.
(2016 Molokai Surfski Race Gear)

From boarding the flight and having a little nap to the morning of the race went quickly. I had a pretty average night sleep, and waking up at 4:30 definitely isn’t the best way to start off a long day of racing, so I tried to turn the negative into a positive and got up and did some more stretching to try and loosen up muscles and joints.  As the time ticks down to the start of the race, the nerves start to kick in more and more, with tingling sensations running down my arms and butterflies in my stomach I definitely knew that today was race day.


 (Boarding a charter plane to Molokai)


Meeting up with Karel Tresnak Jr on Kaluakoi Beach to get all of my gear onto my escort boat is when everything starts to feel real. Getting the low down on what is happening in the channel. After all of this its time to hop on the ski, ‘warm up’ and get to the start line. This year on the north end of the line there were the top 6 Joey Hall, Clint Robinson, Hank McGregor, Jasper Mocke, Dane Sloss, Herman Chalupsky, Cory Hill and Sean Rice, whereas on the southern side there was Greg Barton and Oscar Chalupsky. Off the start the pace wasn’t too bad, instantly there were two main groups being the northern group and the southern group, with a few people caught in the middle. Hayden White pushed up on the southern side of the northern group to challenge the pace of the leaders, with the tactical battle starting. I was sitting comfortable on Sean Rice’s wash as we were one-two boats behind the leader, at about 3-4km into the race was where a few people started to drop off making less and less wash. I looked right to see Clint Robinson relaxed on the wash, at about 6km I started to drop off the lead group and linking up with a double that was also falling off. 30mins ticked over and Escort boats started to come through the field creating small waves to surf, conserving energy and linking up washes and waves I paddled to within 50m of the lead group. For the next 12-15km it was between Herman Chalupsky, Joey Hall and myself, trying to surf what little swell was out there we continually traded the leads. Hearing a call from my boat saying “Well done Ryan we are 2 hours into the race” brought me some relief.

 (Pre-race briefing at Kona Brewing, (L-R)Steve Dalton, Greg Barton, Luke Grice, Jim Foti and Myself) 

The battle between the 3 continued till about 35km into the race, I started getting pain in my stomach and I was overheating due to the lack of wind. After this I had a water drop and got a freezing cold water bottle into my lap in aid to cool down, squirting the water down the back of my neck and also in my lap I started to cool down, but the negativity started to creep in. I tried to remind myself there was only 17km left and I equated it to a distance I paddle back home (Moffatts beach to Maroochydore Beach). At 40km my room mate Steve Dalton paddled past me, spoke to me and gave me confidence. And only a few hundred metres later Gold Coast paddler Dane Sloss came past me just giving me a boost saying “keep on paddling, we’re nearly there”. Coming into Portlock point was bumpy with backwash coming off the wall, seeing another room mate and Molokai Danny Topfer only 100-200m in front I put in an effort to catch him. Then realizing I only had 3km to go I became excited and took a what seemed like a gutsy move on the day and took a wave off China wall, coming within 1-2m of the wall itself I caught a wave, dodged the reef and started paddling the final stretch home. Getting within 500m of the finish line my biceps and triceps started cramping in an attempt to catch the paddlers in front.

( Paddling past China Wall/ Portlock Point)

Overall I was the 14th Solo Surfski across the line and 2nd in my age group 19-29. I would like to Thank everyone who has helped to get me prepared for this race, Karel Tresnak Jr and his family for escorting me across the channel again and giving great positive feedback you guys are legends. Epic Kayaks, Gary Crick Auto Noosa and Nambour, Mass Nutrition, Miguel’s 24-hour Fitness, Vaikobi, Performance paddles and Benny from Rainbow Concepts Remedial Centre and my Family and friends, Thank you.
( The 'A' Team, Elka, Myself and Steve) 

A huge thank you goes out to every one who stayed at Polihale Place, you guys were Legends and made the trip so enjoyable.

(Winning Kona Brewing Co's Skateboard)

 And on a side note, I finally won something, in the lucky door prizes I walked away with the Kona Brewing Co longboard. Now it is time to go and have some time off in Maui and prepare for the Maui Jim Oceanfest that is this weekend June 4 and 5th at Kaanapali beach.

Until next time enjoy your time on and off the water. 

Ryan. 

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