MOLOKAI 2 OAHU by Zane Kekoa Schweitzer
This year's Molokai 2 Oahu was really exciting. It was a sold out event with over 150 prone and stand up paddlers signing up to race one of the most difficult channels between Molokai to Oahu, the Ka'iwi channel. The 32 mile paddle can be cruel but this time I knew what I was getting into. I had already done the crossing last year but now I was a more experienced paddler and felt a bit more confidant. I had a few recent long distance crossings under my belt, and I had a very knowledgable boat crew to support me. With my Dad at the captain's wheel and his friend Randy Clark as crew, we really had a good team, as Randy and my dad know the Kaiwi channel well. I knew I had to keep focused on my goal of finishing within 5 to 5 and half hours. After getting sunstroke during the Maui to Molokai race a few weeks earlier, I really tried to stay very hydrated by filling up my DaKine water pack every hour with water. I also made sure I had tons of Watermann's sunscreen on to protect myself from too much sun, and I forced myself to eat a few bananas before the race to keep my muscles from cramping. I really was trying to stay aware of the wind direction, wave swell, tides and currents too. My board was fast, my body felt strong, and I listened to my instincts.
But, a lot can happened in 5 and a half hours. My waterproof Ipod case somehow filled with water at the start, so I had to paddle the whole race without music wich was frustrating since I always train with music to pump me up. So I focused on the positive - I was really stoked on my new Starboard race board felt fast, my Maui Jim sunglasses kept my eyes from fatiguing, and my Dad kept me motivated and amped.
The race stategy came into play at the end of the race when a few miles before the finish around Chinaman's Wall when the wind really came up and the water really got chopped up. The last thing you want at the end of a 32 mile race is for the wind to be blowing like stink into your face and against the direction you are paddling! I took the middle line, closer to the cliffs and it paid off. I was able to catch a few long swells, dig hard and pass a dozen or so people the last three or four miles.
It felt really good when I came into the bay and saw all the banners and spectators cheering as I paddled into the finish. I finished the race one of only a few teenagers to ever paddle the Maui to Molokai solo... and I reached my time goal. I finished top ten in the solo division overall, third in my class of 29 and under solo, and 24th overall including team paddlers and prone paddlers. It was a great experience and was really glad my Dad was there with me on the boat! Looking forward to next year!