Paddlers complete big accomplishment in Kaiwi Channel crossing

Jack Gillen
Jack Gillen
John Matsushita
John Matsushita
George Ramos
George Ramos

By Stephen Florino - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Chopper 8 flies above what is considered the world championship of paddleboard racing -- the Quiksilver Edition Molokai to Oahu paddleboard race. It goes 32 miles across the Kaiwi channel, in an ultimate test of endurance.

One man has dominated the competition.

There's a saying that goes to be the man, you gotta beat the man. Aussie Jamie Mitchell remains the man in paddleboarding, winning his 7th straight title in 12-years of the event.

But you don't have to be the world champ to feel a sense of accomplishment in finishing this test of will.

Chopper-8 is above Kaluakoi on Molokai, moments before the 12th annual Quiksilver Edition Molokai to Oahu paddle board race.

The scene is calm, but all that will change, as these 150 or so paddlers make their way 32-miles across the Kaiwi channel.

"it's pretty hard," said Jack Gillen. "It's disorganized, so it's hard to drop into the swells, lot of technical balancing, and hard to get a rhythm."

"In the middle had some good bumps and blowing," said John Matsushita. "Just this last bit was kinda hard, the wind was pretty strong in the face."

Paddlers finish at Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai, ending a five hour plus test of endurance.

"Feels great, feels good," said George Ramos. "The older you get, the harder it gets." The 56-year old competed in his 12th race.

There are smiles all around, and lots of stories to be told.

Although finishing is what every paddler wants to do, it's not the destination that drives these watermen -- it's the journey.

"It's kinda surreal," said Matsushita. "But it's good, mostly you're concentrating so you don't really think about too much else."

"It's just a blessing to be in nature like that," said Gillen. "Even when it's dealing with some pain and stuff, look around and man, it's pretty."

Mitchell finished in 4-hours, 57-minutes, 14-seconds. That's 20-minutes faster than second place.