Mitchell after fifth title
The Aussie has paddleboarded from Molokai to Oahu faster than anyone
Jamie Mitchell has been as close to unbeatable as it gets -- in any sport.
The Australian paddleboarder has won the Quiksilveredition Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard Race -- considered the world championship of the sport -- the last four years.
Molokai to Oahu race
When: Race begins at 7:30 a.m. today
Who: A record field of more than 120 competitors
Where: 32 miles across Kaiwi Channel starts at Papohaku Roadstead on Molokai and finishes at Maunalua Bay on Oahu
During that span, he also has not lost in any other paddleboard competition he's entered in the world.
Sure, Tiger Woods held all four of golf's majors at one time, and Michael Jordan pulled off two different three-peats of NBA championships.
But these superstars did not win every single time they competed during their streaks.
Mitchell will try to continue his streak tomorrow, as the four-time defending champion will compete against a record international field of more than 120 paddleboarders at the 10th annual Quiksilveredition.
"The motivation is that there are always other people trying to come beat me, really good competitors coming over trying to have a crack at it," Mitchell, 29, said. "You can't take it easy, you can't not train hard for it. To have everyone chasing you is definitely motivation. I'm definitely in better physical shape than I have been the last four years."
The Quiksilveredition is a 32-mile race from Papohaku Roadstead on Molokai to Maunalua Bay on Oahu across the treacherous Kaiwi Channel.
Paddleboards are essentially streamlined surfboards that average 16 feet long and are designed to ride open-ocean swells. Competitors arm paddle the boards either on their knees, prone or both.
Conditions are expected to be tough in the channel today, with swells coming from various directions and a receding tide that will push competitors away from their destination at Oahu's southeastern tip.
Mitchell won the Quiksilveredition last year in 5 hours, 5 minutes and 9 seconds, and established the race record -- 4:56:03 -- when he won two years ago.
While no other male competitor has won the open division at the race more than twice, Mitchell will be trying to improve his career record to five straight Quiksilveredition wins -- and five years of undefeated paddleboard racing overall.
"I'd like to think I've taken paddleboarding to that next level," Mitchell said. "A lot more people know about paddleboarding -- especially the Molokai -- and that's great for the sport. Hopefully, me doing what I've done has been part of that."
Hawaii paddleboarder Sean Monahan won the race in 1999 and 2000, but he decided to take this season off.
There are no top male contenders from the islands this year in the open division, but fellow Aussie Zane Holmes and Californian Eric Meech, are expected to be among the leaders and challenge Mitchell. Mitchell's younger brother, Justin, will compete as well.
Defending and four-time women's champion Kanesa Duncan of Hawaii will also participate again, the only woman competing solo this year.
Holmes, 25, is the current World Ironman champion, and will be competing for the first time in the Quiksilveredition.
"This is always something I've wanted to do," said Holmes, who, like Jamie Mitchell, is from Queensland. "I'm definitely going to be a threat to Jamie. ... I think I'm going to do quite well. Jamie's certainly a fantastic paddler, he's been at the top of the game for a number of years, and it would be fantastic to be the one to win and end his reign."
Meech was the 2005 Quiksilveredition stockboard (board must measure 12 feet long) champion, winning the division last year in 6:04:21. He decided to move up to the open division this year to test himself -- and, potentially, Mitchell.
"I had a really successful Molokai last year, so I pretty much followed everything to the tee" in preparation this year, Meech, 37, said. "I started training on an open board in May -- it's a lot heavier, a lot bigger board to control.
"To take down Jamie, it's going to take somebody with a lot of drive, a lot of practice and experience, and a little bit of luck, for sure. Right now, he is the highlight of the sport. It really adds to the sport to have such a dominant individual doing it."
Yes, Mitchell is undoubtedly the man to beat at the Quiksilveredition. And he doesn't plan on having his streak end today.
"I think my mental strength each year gets a little bit better, because you know what you're in for and you've been there before," Mitchell said. "I think endurance athletes don't peak until their early to mid-30s. I still think I've got a few good years left in me, and as long as I stay injury-free I will surely come back."