At 18, Maui local Connor Baxter is a seasoned veteran of the Stand-up Paddling world, having won major races across Europe and Hawaii. On Saturday he added one more notch to his paddle, cruising to his third straight Maui-to-Molokai race.
Baxter won by a wide margin over Travis Grant in the unlimited board class. Placing third was Dave Kissane followed by Livio Menelau in fourth place. Terrene Black took first place in the women’s unlimited class.
The 27-mile course across the Pailolo Channel, from Honolua Bay on Maui to the harbor in Kaunakakai, has been called the “best downwind ever” by Baxter and other competitors.
With lighter winds, Baxter knew he could not beat his record time from last year of 2:55.49. To put this in perspective, it is only about an hour more than it takes the Molokai Princess ferry to cross the Pailolo Channel from Maui to Molokai. Baxter reported his average speed at 8.6 mph with 14.2 mph his top recorded speed.
In years past, the Maui-to-Molokai race was the third leg of the Triple Crown of SUP but has now been consolidated to just one race with a new name: the World Cup of SUP. Last year, Baxter won the second leg of the series, a 10-mile race from Kihei to Makena and was absent from the first race from Maliko Gulch to Kahalui Harbor.
Baxter’s dominating victory on Saturday serves notice to the SUP world with the prestigious Molokai-2-Oahu race approaching in two weeks. Baxter won the Molokai-2-Oahu race across the 32-mile Kaiwi Channel in record time and is the odds-on favorite to win for the third consecutive time.