HAWAII KAI, Oahu (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time in its history, the Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard Race is sold out. This Sunday, paddlers will attempt to cross 32-miles of what's been called the most treacherous channel in the world and one of them has quite a story to tell.
Californian, Jeff Denholm lost his arm 12 years ago while working on a fishing troller in the Bering Sea. The ocean took his arm, but it also feeds his spirit. "I surfed, grew up in the water, grew up on the coast of Maine, I"ve been on boats since I was a 5 year old kid," he says. In the wake of his injury Jeff decided he would create ways to keep his active lifestyle. That's why he invented the paddle arm. He explains,"It essentially is a carbon fiber chassy with a bioelastic liner and a carbon fiber blade a lot like an outrigger paddle."
In 2009, his first Kaiwi channel crossing was a challenging one. Mid-channel he started to have complications. "It would partially fail, the device would spin, tear my skin up I'd lose traction in the water so I went from a 630 640 pace and I finished in 8 hours. It took a lot out of me and mentally the last half of that race was one of the most demanding things I've ever done," Jeff said.
Contest director Mike Takahashi recalls, "His boat radioed us that he was having a lot of problems, and we thought he'd have to pull out and the man just gutted it out an incredible accomplishment, I think he did more than any other athlete I've ever seen." Last year competitors had to make it to Port Lock point within eight hours. Jeff made it in the knick of time. "It was a chicken skin moment for everybody. I don't think there was a person who wasn't moved by his finish."
I asked him if he ever thought of quitting. Jeff said, "There's only two ways this is going to end, with me dead in the channel, or at that finish line. So we made it thank god. I was put here not to win, and not to be the best but to inspire others."
This year, with better equipment and a resolute state of mind, Jeff's goal is to finish at least an hour faster. Mike says it's looking good. "It looks quite favorable right now we have a rising tide, we have a easterly wind and it will be challenging but maybe we might see a record or two broken."