Riggs’ Picks for Olukai Ho’olaule’a
Jeremy Riggs knows a thing or two about the Maliko run. After moving from North Carolina to Maui on a one-way ticket Riggs ended up staying for the surf. He was doing prone paddleboard runs on the Maliko when he saw Dave Kalama, Loch Eggers and Laird Hamilton doing the run on early standup designs. That was it. He was off and paddling. Since then, Riggs has become one of the best paddlers on that stretch of coast, training with Kalama, competing in races and coaching everyone from first-time downwinders to the elite of the sport. We asked him who he would pick for this weekend’s Olukai Ho’olaule’a. This is what he said.—Will Taylor
It’s looking like we’re gonna have pretty light winds. That changes up what guys are going to be riding, downwind board or race board? Not everyone has a flat water board here. It looks like we’ll only have small bumps at the start and it’ll be pretty flat at the end. Connor (Baxter) was on his 12’6″ board and smoked everyone at Paddle IMUA last weekend in similar conditions. Kody (Kerbox) and Livio (Menelau) were next in line. We were trading positions for the eight miles. At the end Kody had a little bit more in the tank and his flat water board came through. Then Livio pulled away from me. There won’t be much surf or wind push over the reef going in toward Kanaha so the guys that have flatwater boards might have advantage in that area.
For the guys I have to say Connor. I don’t know if he’ll be riding something knew or his 12’6″. Maybe he has a 14-footer that no one knows about.
(Dave) Kalama is another wildcard because he just got a new board, 19 feet long and designed for downwind, but there might not be that much wind. He called me yesterday looking for a rabbit to chase before the race to test it out. He’s always a strong paddler.
Then there’s Danny Ching and Georges (Cronsteadt). With them, I’m having a hard time figuring out what the order will be.
Kai Lenny would be another to throw in the mix but he might not be here, he’s in Nicaragua right now. I haven’t seen Travis Grant but if he’s here he’ll make the podium. There are six spots on the podium and it’s a hard one to land on.
I’ll say Connor, Georges, Dave, Danny. But Danny could outrun Kalama on the beach again. The wind is looking like so I think Georges will move up. It’s a hard call to make. I’ll put it up like that.
For the women, I don’t know of anyone visiting. Andrea (Moller) has gotten even faster than last year. I’ve been paddling with Dave a lot and Andrea is not far behind us. I’m calling that Andrea will take it, followed by Sonni (Honscheid) then Devin Blish in third and Talia Decoite in fourth.
April was nice and windy but in May it seems we have weekends when the wind shuts off and sometimes that happens on race day. So many people come around the world to do this run. The best advice I can give is to stick around after the race because it usually picks back up.
The light wind will make you change your line. Most of the time you want to get outside and stay outside and make your way across the reef at the end. But when the wind is down you don’t go as far outside, you can just beeline to Kanaha. The only thing to watch out for is the reef at Baldwin Beach. Usually when it’s windy we’re all on the outside of it. When there’s not that much wind the straight line is the faster way. Usually I rely on surfing and reading the water and if that’s not happening I try to put my head down and keep the cadence going, keep the technique going and pound it out.
There’s also a possible swell on the way for Saturday that could make it interesting coming across the reef. It might be intimidating for people without surf experience. But you just have to keep your eyes open and don’t go over it. It’ll be a good race.
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