Surfski paddlers race to beat 13-year-old record - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Surfski paddlers race to beat 13-year-old record

Lauren Bartlett Lauren Bartlett
Clint Robinson Clint Robinson

By Oscar Valenzuela - bio | email

HAWAII KAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The best of the best gathered to race in the Molokai surfski world championship. The race started at Kepuhi beach in Molokai and finished at Koko Marina on Oahu.

It's a 32-mile journey across rough ocean swells but racers say turbulent conditions work in their favor.

Local paddler Lauren Bartlett came in at exactly four hours and twelve seconds and says conditions couldn't have been better.

"If your conditions are big surf and big wind, today was the day," she said with a championship grin.

The participants are only allowed to use surfskis, which are narrow kayaks built for cutting through or catching and riding large waves. Bartlett took advantage of her kayak's full capabilities.

"The surf was so huge out there, it's amazing the speed you get going from one bump to the next," she said.

Speed is their specialty in this sport. In less than three and a half hours, the leaders came racing around Koko Head on Oahu desperately trying to beat that record time at the finish line.

That record is held by Dean Gardiner. In 1997, he came in at just over three hours and 21 minutes. Sunday, it was challenged by Australian Clint Robinson, who came in in first place with a good lead on the other racers. But Gardiner got to keep his title.

Robinson came in at three hours and 23 minutes, just two minutes shy of the record. But that doesn't take anything away from this kayak Olympic gold medalist. He summed up his first place win as a victory just the same.

"At the end of the day, you have to use what comes your way and it was my lucky day I suppose," Gardiner said.

The super-human feat accomplished by these athletes isn't that big of a challenge, Bartlett says, "If paddling is something you like to do and you feel like you want to do this race, just do it. It'll work out." 

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