Vaikobi's International Team of Ocean Ski Athletes will arrive in Hawaii this weekend in the lead up to the 2018 Maui Jim Molokai Challenge, which will this year be held on Sunday May 27th.
This 32 Mile (53 Kilometres) crossing from Molokai to Oahu is one of the most prestigious Ocean Ski races in the World and this year marks the 43rd Annual Crossing across the "Channel of Bones".
The 2018 Molokai will pit the Vaikobi Race Team against each other as they all battle for the title in both the Men's and Women's.
With Vaikobi’s 2017 Molokai Champion, Sean Rice, deciding not to return this year to defend his title, the Men’s field is wide open with a host of contenders looking to claim the converted Molokai World Championship.
Pic- Cory "Chill" Hill (AUS) has been putting in the miles with his training partner on the Gold Coast, Mackenzie Hynard (AUS)
New to the Vaikobi Race Team in 2018 is Current World Champion and 2015 Molokai Champion, Cory "Chill" Hill (Fenn/ Shaw & Partners Race Team/ Vaikobi), who is looking to re-gain the Molokai title after a few years of ups and downs in this race, including a wipe out in the last 2 kilometres of the 2016 edition when he cut too close to the rocks after exiting China Wall. Cory then backed up with a fantastic 3rd in 2017.
Pic- Mackenzie Hynard (AUS) had a breakout year in 2017 and is looking to continue his progression to the top
Mackenzie "Macca" Hynard (Think Kayak/ Shaw and Partners Race Team/ Vaikobi) from the Gold Coast is also looking to make an impression in Hawaii this year. Macca had his best year yet in 2017 with quite a few podium results and will feature strongly on race day as he continues his progression to the top.
Macca's training partner on the Gold Coast is none other than Cory Hill.
Pic- Austin Kieffer enjoying the sensational conditions in the recent Maui to Molokai
From San Francisco, CA, is the irrepressible Austin Kieffer (Fenn/ Vaikobi/OceanPaddleSports) who is gunning to be the first American to win the Molokai Challenge since the Hawaiian Kalai Handley won back in 1978. Austin is channelling his inner Tom Seleck for the race with a pretty cool handlebar moustache!
Austin recently finished 2nd in the Maui to Molokai behind Pat Dolan which was run in sensational downwind conditions.
PIC- Austin Kieffer (USA) will be starring as a young Tom Seleck in the remake of Magnum PI, to be released by HBO in 2019!
New Zealander, Andy Mowlem (Think Kayak/ Kayak HQ/Vaikobi) is also in top form after his recent victory in the Vaikobi King of the Harbour in Auckland. Andy loves the long distance and will be in contention in the end.
PIC- Andy Mowlem on his way to victory in the Vaikobi King of the Harbour
The usual list of contenders will be also gunning for the title including Jasper Mocke, Hank McGregor and Pat Dolan. Former race winners and legends of the sport, Oscar Chalupsky, Dean Gardiner and Clint Robinson will also be on the start line to prove that experience counts when conditions get big!
Outrigger legend and Hawaiian local Kai Bartlett, will be racing in the Ski race on his new proto type Ocean Ski, which will make him another one to follow.
PIC- Rachel Clarke of the Shaw and Partners Race Team in Sydney
The Women's race is set be the toughest in recent history with a host of contenders, arriving in Hawaii to race across the channel.
Two members of the Vaikobi race team will be battling it out in the front.
Defending Molokai Champion, Rachel Clarke (Epic, Shaw and Partners Race Team/ Vaikobi) from New Zealand, feels right at home out in the Channel and is looking to rack up her 3rd Molokai victory after completing another fantastic period of training in the build up to the great race.
Rachel's experience and her ocean skills will make her the one to beat.
PIC- Hayley Nixon on her way to claiming her first World Championship in Hong Kong in November 2017
Current World Champion, Hayley Nixon (Carbonology/ Shaw and Partners/ Eurosteel/ Vaikobi) from South Africa, has put in a last minute burst of training to be ready for the 53 Kilometre race. Hayley's marathon paddling experience and base endurance will come in handy as the race progresses.
The battle between these two will be fantastic to watch, however this year, there is a 3rd person joining the party at the head of the field, with Australian Iron Woman and Molokai Paddle Board World Champion, Jordan Mercer taking on Hayley and Rachel for the title.
The other interesting entry in the Women's is the 2016 World SUP Woman's Champion, Penelope Strickland from New Zealand. Pea has pedigree and endurance, so it will be great to watch her race on the Ocean Ski.
PIC- Rachel Clark in training in New Zealand in her Vaikobi VCOLD FLEX gear
PIC-Earl Evans from Shaw and Partners, with Rachel Clark and Pat Langley (Vaikobi) at the Shaw and Partners Race Team launch in Sydney. Earl will be racing the Molokai with Luke Horder in the Relay.
The action begins on Sunday the 20th of May with The Shaw and Partners Makapu'u Dash from Makai Pier to Hawaii Kai.
We wish all competitors a great week in Hawaii!