Ten-time champion Jamie Mitchell has bowed out of this year’s Molokai-2-Oahu paddleboard race. The competition to win the 16th annual world championship race is now wide open and has attracted its largest-ever field.
When the annual Molokai-2-Oahu Paddleboard World Championships begins on July 29, more than 250 of the world’s most accomplished watermen (men and women) from 15 countries will attempt the challenging 32-mile open-ocean crossing of the Ka’iwi Channel from Kaluakoi Beach on the west coast of Molokai to Maunalua Bay on the south shore of Oahu.
Organizers of the race, Kona Longboard Island Lager, announced last week that race registration has closed early. Having sold out for five consecutive years, the 2012 event experienced the fastest registration pace in its 16-year history. Interested athletes can still be added to the wait-list by contacting the registration team at Molokai2Oahu.com.
Combined with M2O’s reputation as the sport’s ultimate challenge and the increasing global popularity of paddleboarding, most recently in SUP, an event best was established this year for corporate partnerships. Returning partners include presenting sponsor Kona Longboard Island Lager, Dukes, Maui Jim, Garmin, Rogue SUP, Patagonia, Watermen’s Applied Science, Sambazon and Standup Paddle Magazine. New to M2O this year are the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, GoPro and Teva.
“The Molokai-2-Oahu Paddleboard World Championship is an amazing race that draws elite athletes from around the world to Hawaii every year, allowing us to share the beauty and culture of the islands with the competitors, their families and the international media,” said Michael Story of the Hawai’i Tourism Authority. “We are thrilled to be a part of this year’s race and look forward to showcasing all that the islands have to offer.”
The popularity of paddleboarding and the challenge of the channel is also attracting world-class athletes from outside the paddling elite. One of surfing’s most respected athletes Rob Machado will take his wave riding skills to the start line on Molokai in the team SUP category in his first attempt at crossing the channel.
“I’m stoked to be a part of this year’s race. I’ve been paddling for a number of years and watched many friends train for the Molokai race, so you could say it’s been on my bucket list for a while now,” said Rob Machado. “The whole idea of paddling from island to island is kind of intimidating, but exciting at the same time. I’m looking forward to having a really good time.”
Top ranked professional surfer and current ASP world tour world title contender Joel “Parko” Parkinson is partnering with his trainer, paddleboarding veteran and fellow Australian Wes Berg in the two-man stock paddleboard category.
“The Molokai-2-Oahu race has been on my radar for a while now. Thanks to a break in our tour schedule, I will be able to compete in it for the first time and experience all that the race is known for,” said Parkinson. “I’ve been training for this for quite some time and can’t wait for race day.”
Parkinson’s teammate, Berg, is one of Australia’s top Ironmen. Last year, he completed the M2O in a time of 4 hours, 59 minutes, 54 seconds to finish fourth in what was an Australian dominated leader board in the unlimited paddleboard race.
Duke’s Waikiki continues its long-time support of the event by hosting athlete packet pick-up on July 26. The awards ceremony is held at the famous Outrigger Canoe Club.
For information, updates and merchandise visit Molokai2Oahu.com or find the race on Facebook at Facebook.com/molokai2oahu.