Molokai 2 Oahu 2015 | A Look Back

All photos: Erik Aeder

It was a windless day in the Channel of Bones, the most windless day in decades for the Molokai 2 Oahu World Championships—the grueling, 32-mile “downwind” race across the great Ka’iwi Channel, and arguably the most monumental event in SUP to date. The typically ferocious trades that usually grace downwind racers arrived a gentle breeze at best that trying Sunday. The drink was so flat, conditions were better suited for water-skiers than downwind racers. And only after enduring 32-miles of hopelessly unassisted paddling under relentless heat, then navigating a perilous finale of pumping, overhead surf at China Walls—the final obstacle on the course’s home stretch—the few and proud who finally crossed the finish line claimed some of the most monumental personal victories of their lives.

As Maui downwind paddler and race coach, Suzie Cooney, put in a SUP mag interview before the race: “Without wind, this crossing is about the paddlers’ best prepared to race under any condition.”

In the end, those paddlers were Australian powerhouse Travis Grant on the mens’ side, and repeat M2O winner, Germany’s Sonni Hönscheid on the womens’.

In one of the race’s main highlights—and there were many—Grant stroked into a massive wave off China Walls and surfed it in remarkable form (not an easy feat on a 17’10” race board), to further his lead and synch victory more than 15 minutes ahead of runner up, Kai Lenny. But perhaps the most tremendous performance went to Australia’s Annabel Anderson, whose impromptu late-entry found her uncharacteristically racing a 14-foot stock board, upon which she managed to earn second-place overall among the women.

To reiterate the brutality of this years race, consider the shockers: Dropouts included Slater Trout, Livio Menelau, legendary Maui downwind guru Jeremy Riggs and six-time M2M and two-time M2O champ, Connor Baxter.

Let’s hope the winds are with us next year.

More Molokai 2 Oahu.