Ocean Paddling’s Super Bowl Goes Virtual

Hundreds of elite paddlers from around the globe is not going to be flying into Honolulu the final week of July. They gained’t be cruising in flip-flops over to Molokai, and gained’t be embarking on essentially the most grueling psychological and bodily problem of their lives. They gained’t be emotionally gliding into Maunalua Bay Beach Park and celebrating on the Outrigger Canoe Club with a group of endurance brothers and sisters.

It could be simple to simply write this yr’s Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championship off as one other coronavirus-related bummer, together with the scratched NBA season and Pearl Jam tour. However, the M2O race remains to be taking place, albeit just about, from around the globe.

Anyone can do it on any craft. Anything goes.

This yr, as a substitute of constructing the trek to Hawaii, paddlers will arrange their very own routes and paddle their native waters anytime between July 24-26 on no matter craft they so select to paddle, half the space of the storied 32-mile, island-to-island course. This means you. To convey the entire thing collectively, registered paddlers can add race recordsdata, together with areas and circumstances, or just share their paddle on social media.

Lenny after ending first at Hawaii’s Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships in 2016. Brian Bielmann/Red Bull Content
Kai Lenny on His Inaugural Foil Division Win at Molokai 2 Oahu Race

“I’m most excited to see where people might be paddling,” says Kai Lenny, the figurative and literal poster boy for the occasion. “They’ll be on rivers, lakes, harbors. There’s going to be someone paddling a pond by their house, going around it 400 times. There will be some unbelievable feats to come out of this.”

Lenny, the Maui native surf-kite-sail-big-wave-paddle-foil marvel, can do just about something on any mixture of board and water. Lenny set a brand new file tie for the 2018 occasion, racing on a foil-SUP. Before that, he was champ of each the Stand Up Paddle Unlimited and Stock divisions.

The Molokai 2 Oahu race, thought-about essentially the most elite paddle race on the planet, is 32 miles throughout the Molokai Channel, also called the Ka’iwi Channel. Racers should qualify, then put up their very own cash for flights, lodging and a chartered help boat.

What Lenny says he’ll miss essentially the most is the spirit of inclusiveness amongst paddlers.

“There are no ‘outsiders’ at this event,” Lenny says. “If you’re new to the event, everyone who has already done it celebrates your first time. At the opening ceremony, they announce the newest paddlers and everyone claps and cheers. Everyone specifically wishes you good luck. You’ve earned the right to be there and you’re about to embark on one of the greatest challenges you’ll ever have.”

A Racer’s Perspective on the Storied Molokai 2 Oahu

It’s additionally not the paddling world’s solely legendary problem to go digital. The Yukon River Quest, the world’s longest working paddle race that takes paddlers 444 miles on the Yukon River, may even be digital and in addition half the space.

Half the space for this yr’s M2O racers means 16 miles on any physique of water chosen. Though opponents will likely be decentralized bodily, Lenny talked about being happy with occasion administrators placing within the effort to maintain the group linked digitally. And he sees new alternatives. For one, any racer can compete subsequent to Lenny or the lead paddlers. And athletes from around the globe will likely be testing one another’s native backwaters and private finest occasions.

“Maybe there are people who have never been able to travel to do this race,” Lenny provides. “They have jobs, families and other priorities at home. How cool that they now have an opportunity? Anyone who wants to put in the time and energy can be part of it. Maybe this is a stepping stone for them to get to Hawaii and do it next year. Maybe they’re going to push themselves that much harder. It helps you feel the camaraderie with this community.”

Pushing the Boundaries With Kai Lenny

He additionally understands his position in that group, and the strain to carry out. Though he could also be importing his paddle like everybody else, he gained’t be “phoning it in.” Lenny’s popping out of quarantine in combating form, in search of the perfect day of wind and climate that weekend to really race the channel.

If you’re eager about signing up, register at molokai2oahu.com ($80 will get you an occasion hat, T-shirt, M2O camp mug, customized neck gaiter, and sarong). Then all you must do is paddle 16 miles and also you’ve competed within the famed ceremony of passage, type of.

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