Pacific Island Crossings

Hawaii 2016: The Molokai

The 53km Molokai Challenge, originally named Kanaka Ikaika, has been referred to as, “the ultimate Ironman and final test of paddling skill, endurance and knowledge of ocean surfing”. It tests a paddler’s ability to manoeuvre against unpredictable weather conditions in the Kaiwi Channel. The Channel, more often referred to as the “Molokai Channel” or “Channel of Bones” is an expanse of Pacific Ocean between the island of Molokai and Oahu. It is considered the roughest channel in the world when Mother Nature is angry. The race is the unofficial world championship of Ocean Paddling.

The 2016 edition produced brutal, hot, flat and glassy conditions, making the channel crossing a tough 5 hour grind on the Pacific Ocean.

Bora Bora 2017: The Maraamu

Mara’amu… the name given to the prevailing south easterly wind that sweeps across French Polynesia from July to October. It generates a windswell that one can surf across the 40km channel from Tahaa Island to Bora Bora.  It’s the gathering of all the polynesian surfski paddlers and open to paddlers from around the world. A channel crossing, a challenge that is the climax of the paddling surfski season. The Maraamu Surfski Race is more than a race. Paddling is an integral part of Polynesian Culture, when the race is over, the athletes celebrate together as respect, friendship and humility take over the competitive spirit.

The 2017 edition saw very little help from the Maraamu. It was far from my best day on the water, but considering that the hot, humid conditions saw a record number of competitors abandon the race, I was stoked to have completed the Channel Crossing!