Yesterday capped a remarkable string of 10 consecutive victories for Australian Jamie Mitchell in the 15th annual Molokai-2-Oahu Paddleboard World Championship.
With Mitchell, 34, indicating that this would be his last attempt to tame the Kaiwi Channel while lying prone on a paddleboard, the race also represented a shifting tide in the sport’s current. Two racers under the age of 18 claimed titles in their respective divisions.
Favorable currents in the channel also allowed records to be smashed in all divisions of the 32-mile race. Conditions were tough and somewhat chaotic with cross-diagonal swells of up to six feet. Relatively weak trade winds didn’t offer much assistance, but an incoming tide made the course surprisingly fast.
Mitchell’s official time was four hours, 40 minutes, 31 seconds, shaving eight minutes off his previous record clocked in 2007.
“I feel like the weight of the entire Hawaiian Island chain has lifted from me,” said a pumped up Mitchell at the finish. “It’s done.”
It was an emotional and relieving victory that bookended a decade of perfection for Mitchell. It also puts him on par with fellow Quiksilver teammate Kelly Slater, a 10-time world champion of surfing and one of the only human beings on the planet who can comprehend the dedication and commitment such a sporting feat demands. Slater was among the first to praise Jamie’s accomplishment:
“Jamie has set a bar that few, if any, athletes have set in their careers,” said Slater. “Ten straight years of doing anything is impressive. To beat the world’s best paddlers time and again in treacherous, unpredictable conditions is inspiring and unbelievable.”
Maui’s Connor Baxter, 16, was the top stand-up finisher with a time of 4:26:10, finishing first overall. Baxter beat the previous stand-up record by almost half an hour. It was only two weeks ago that that Baxter paddled into Kaunakakai Harbor to win the final leg and secure his title in the Maui Jim Triple Crown of Stand-Up Paddle.
Jordan Mercer, 17, of Australia, won the women’s prone division at 5:22:31. This was Mercer’s first time racing in the Molokai-2-Oahu race. She finished in 5:22:31, breaking the 5:53:49 record eight-time winner Kanesa Duncan Seraphin set in 2004. Seraphin finished in second place, 28 minutes behind Mercer.
Brazil native Andrea Moller, 31, of Maui, won the women’s stand-up division at 5:26:51.
Also competing was Mark Matheson, who was paralyzed from the chest down after falling off a Kauai hotel balcony in 1993. He finished the race in 9 hours and 18 minutes. He attempted the race last year after training for more than a year, but was disqualified when his escort boat died.