A year after the Ka’iwi Channel delivered a thrashing to each paddler in the 2013 race, today’s waters surprised an international field of top paddleboarders by delivering fast conditions. The result produced new records and a host of new champions at the 18th annual Molokai-2-Oahu Paddleboard World Championships (M2O).
New records came from three paddlers in differing disciplines who represent some of the youngest champions in race history.
For Connor Baxter, the strong wind swells generated enough energy for the 19-year-old stand-up paddleboarder (SUP) to propel into a new world record time of 4 hours, 8 minutes, 8 seconds across the Ka’iwi Channel. Baxter, a skilled Maui down-winder beat his former record by more than five minutes to best 2013 champion Travis Grant who finished second (4:09:15).
Jordan Mercer used the waves to glide into race history by setting the record for the most consecutive wins of any woman in race history. Mercer did not beat her record time of 5:22:31 set in 2011, but her finish time of 5:33:23 in the traditional (prone) paddleboard division was enough to earn the 20-year-old Australian four straight wins.
Mercer’s record came on the same day when the winningest woman in race history, Kanesa Duncan-Seraphin, returned to competition on her prone board after taking a year off. Duncan-Seraphin today finished second (5:55:06) and now boasts 13 channel crossings under her belt and eight championships since 2001.
Another record fell in the men’s prone stock paddleboard race, which proved to be one of the most hotly contested races in years. At one point in mid-channel, five competitors were paddling head-to-head, swapping “runners” as each athlete jockeyed for position. In the end, Jack Bark broke free from the pack to claim his second M2O title (5:12:35) in world record fashion. At the age of 20, the Los Angeles athlete is one of the youngest champions to claim two titles at M2O.
Matt Poole, 26, maintained the Australian stronghold in the traditional unlimited paddleboard race by winning his first M2O in a time of 4:52:02. Poole’s performance established the 13th straight year an Australian has stood atop the podium and earned him the fifth fastest finish time in race history.