CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Australia's Jamie Mitchell celebrated after winning his seventh straight Quiksilveredition Molokai to Oahu paddleboard race, finishing more than 20 minutes ahead of his competition.
Mitchell dominates Molokai-Oahu race
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For the seventh straight year, Australia's Jamie Mitchell captured the Quiksilveredition Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard Race across the 32-mile Ka'iwi Channel.
He didn't threaten to break his own race record from last year despite clear conditions yesterday toward Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai, but his time of 4 hours, 57 minutes, 14 seconds was dominant once again. The 31-year-old enjoyed a victory margin of 20 minutes and 10 seconds over runner-up and countryman Jackson English.
Hawaii's Kanesa Duncan reclaimed her solo women's title by pulling away from defending champion Shakira Westdorp with a time of 6:28:12 over Westdorp's 6:31:34.
The Quiksilveredition is considered the world championship for long-distance paddleboarders.
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CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jamie Mitchell threw shakas after crossing the finish line of the 12th annual QuikSilverEdition Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard Race yesterday. Mitchell, 31, has won the grueling 32-mile race seven consecutive years.
Luck had nothing to do with collecting this number seven.
Jamie Mitchell's annual victory in the Quiksilveredition Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard Race - yesterday he notched his seventh straight - is now as reliable as the high tide. The 31-year-old Australian arrived with no one else in sight at Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai, energetic and seemingly at full strength, in 4 hours, 57 minutes and 14 seconds.
The undisputed king of paddleboarding kissed his green 18-foot board and appeared ready to start heading back across the 32-mile Ka'iwi Channel for Molokai if somebody told him the race was only half-finished.
Mitchell had said he felt just as motivated as last year (when he broke his own record time in 4 hours and 48 minutes) and it was reflected in his final time in moderately tougher conditions than his last visit.
He was "knotted up" from nerves in the morning from pressure to defend his six titles, but once the race got under way all his tensions evaporated.
"Every year it's different - you don't know what's going to happen," said Mitchell, a lifeguard of Queensland, Australia. "It felt sort of fast, but the conditions weren't as good as expected. You had to use the rudder - I like that. I think it worked to my advantage."
With 4- to 5-foot swells coming from the north in the open water, it became a constant game of repositioning the paddleboard to take advantage of whatever "bumps" he could harness to save energy along the way. Mitchell was on pace to break his record after 2 hours (he was about halfway across the channel) but a current made things tougher over the final third of the race.
"If anyone tried to go with me, I knew they'd suffer toward the end," Mitchell said with a grin.
He figures now's the time to retire his trusty paddleboard that also carried him to his record-breaking finish last year.
Mitchell's countryman, 32-year-old Jackson English, was impressive in placing second. He finished in third twice in the Quiksilveredition previously, but stopped paddleboarding completely over the last four years while he lived in Singapore with his family. He took up the sport again with renewed passion this year, and serious training before heading to Hawaii helped lead to a finish of 5:17:23 - 20 minutes behind Mitchell.
The tall redhead remained in sight of the leader for the bulk of the race, but waned a bit near the finish. Still, he was excited about the end result.
"I knew Brian (Rocheleau) and all the other guys were behind, those guys were in the back of my mind," English said. "Luckily I held them off."
Rocheleau, a 32-year-old firefighter from Kailua, finished third as the top Hawaii finisher in 5:19:22.
"You just go out there, do your crossing, and whatever happens, happens," Rocheleau said. "When you stand on the beach and you get that nervous and excited feeling, you never lose that, even after seven times (entering)."
A jubilant Kanesa Duncan, of Honolulu, took back her women's solo title from Australian Shakira Westdorp with a time of 6:28:12 over Westdorp's 6:31:34. Neither of the friendly rivals had any idea throughout where they stood in relation to the other, even though their times were comparatively close. Duncan greeted Westdorp on the coast with a hug afterward.
"I had no idea I won until I crossed the finish line," said Duncan, a 32-year-old assistant science education professor at the University of Hawaii. The women's course record-holder made it six victories in eight years. "It's so great to have somebody who can really push you - it elevates the sport to a new level."
Mikey Cote captured the stock (12-foot board) category in 5:48:15 for his first victory across the channel in four years of entering.
"I live about 2, 3 miles away in Wailupe and paddle this run all the time; it's great to finish on the home course and it's really special," Cote said. "I always go into the race just thinking to finish is an accomplishment."
Duane DeSoto won the C4 Waterman stand-up solo class in 6:17:06, while cousins Ekolu and Dave Kalama three-peated as stand-up team champions.
"It's special, because we're doing it as family," said Ekolu Kalama, of Molokai. He grinned. "We talked about winning this maybe 10, 15 years in a row, like what Jamie Mitchell's going to do with paddleboarding."