At 7:30am HST the world’s top paddlers—standup, prone and hydrofoil—began their annual pilgrimage from the Hawaiian island of Molokai 32 miles across the Channel of Bones to Oahu for the 22nd annual Molokai 2 Oahu, aka M2O, aka the most prestigious downwind paddle race on earth.
For the first time in M2O history the fastest paddler raced neither prone nor SUP, but hydrofoil. Surprise, surprise: that paddler was Kai Lenny, who also holds the course’s stock SUP record and in 2016 won the unlimited SUP division with record-setting time.
Today Lenny set a new course record with a jaw-dropping time of 2:52:48.
Lenny’s result in M2O’s first-ever hydrofoil division marks the race’s fastest finishing time ever, besting the 2018 unlimited SUP champion Travis Grant’s winning time of 4:23:15 by more an hour and a half.
“My goal was to do it in under three hours,” said Lenny at the finish. “I wouldn’t doubt if in the future we’re doing this race in two hours and thirty minutes or faster.”
WATCH: Lenny’s Historic Hydrofoil Finish at M2O 2018
Behind Lenny, the standup paddle division unfolded with a classic battle between last year’s M2O champ Travis Grant and perennial M2O favorite Connor Baxter, both of whom each held three Molokai 2 Oahu titles going into today’s race. Grant came in at 4:23:15, while Baxter crossed the finish line in 4:38:39 ahead of third-place finisher James Casey (4:48:42).
Unfortunate upsets also occurred on the men’s side with pre-race favorites Lincoln Dews, Titouan Puyo and Mo Freitas all suffered injuries in the channel. We’ll bring you updates on them as we hear more.
Travis Grant on his way to another M2O victory
On the women’s side, Australian Terrene Black reigned victorious with a time of 5:25:27 ahead of runner-up, three-time former M2O champ Sonni Hönschied (5:32:36) and third-place finisher Penelope Strickland (5:57:09). Racers are still filing in to the finish at Maunalua Bay Beach Park, which you can watch on the Live Tracker. SUP Magazine‘s own Will Taylor is currently nearing the finish in the team relay. He’ll give you an update along with a recap, photos and more from the 2018 Molokai 2 Oahu once he catches his breath!
So happy, so relieved and so friggen stoked to win yesterday's @molokai2oahu channel crossing!! This was my 6th year and second win. It's taken me another 4 attempts to win it again since 2013. Hard work does pay off eventually. I don't know why this race hurts so much. I mean, I do and I dont. Because I had my first muscle spasms at an hour 30mins in.. My legs were feeling fatigued already. I know I went hard at the start, I had to. I got a lead and it was just a matter of holding for another 5 hours. With current world number 1 @sonnihoenscheid breathing down my neck and defending champ and record holder @penelope_sup not far behind. It was absolute torture, but thankfully I had an awesome escort – Sean Monahan and my sister Petra, who kept going, and in the right direction. It is too early to say if I'll be back next year. I have so many people to thank. There are a lot of hours spent on my own training but without the best direction and guidance from so many friends, and family I would not be where I'm at. Thanks @tpeasey for my training programs and race plans that have really added something fresh to my routine and you also have a great understanding of how I need to race. Also of course Willy @central_coast_sup who has been in my corner since day 1 and continues keep me on course as a paddle buddy and mentor. Huge thanks to my family- Mum @diane.black for looking after me, dad for all the shuttles and support back home. My sister for stepping up and battling seasickness to get me across the channel. We toughed it out together 😆. Massive thanks my sponsors @ecsboards_australia for backing me and providing me with this new machine (board) this year. It worked👍🏼 @qbpaddles for the most reliable paddles in the world, @vmgblades for my rudder and steering system, @zhikaustralia for all the awesome paddling attire, @trueprotein for keeping me healthy on the road, @officialmauijim for keeping my eyes protected, @jolynaustralia for my favourite swimsuits and shorts and @cellcharge for keeping my immune system strong. Also my physio @ndrenton at Wamberal who has played a major part in getting my body functioning the way it should.Thanks again @skyla_rayner 📷🙌
Massive thanks to everyone who helped make the 22nd annual Molokai 2 Oahu yet another historic success!