Molokai – Hank McGregor won his third title in the Maui Jim Molokai Challenge on Sunday, leading home fellow South African paddlers Sean Rice and Jasper Mocké in the gruelling 53km crossing between the islands of Molokai and Oahu raced in brutal flat conditions.
The race for the overall singles title quickly turned into a five boat affair with the South African trio dicing with Australian defending champ Cory Hill and his compatriot Clint Robinson, each seeking their own lines across the channel that was offering no swell, runs or downwind assistance.
McGregor (Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks), who finished fourth last year in equally tough conditions, was able to use his accumulated experience in the closing stages of the race to choose quicker lines to get to the finish at Maunalua Beach Park a minute and a half clear of winner of the ICF ocean racing world title Sean Rice (Think Kayaks) with Mocké (Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks) just over a minute further back, making up an all-South African podium for the first time.
“It was a hot, flat, tough brutal day,” said Mocké. “To do well you needed to be efficient and to use whatever the ocean gave you – which really wasn’t much – and you really had to work hard!”
The podium race was moulded by drama right at the death as the leaders approached China Walls, within sight of the finish, when defending champ Cory Hill rode a wave too far at the fabled point and smashed the rudder into the hull of his surfski.
In the rest of the large field of South African paddlers Herman Chalupsky finished tenth, winning the Masters age group ahead of US Olympic legend Greg Barton, Eastern Cape stalwart Richard von Wilderman was 11th and Tom Schilperoort 14th, ahead of former Molokai champ Oscar Chalupsky, who lost time after also being wiped out on the reef at China Walls, damaging his rudder.
The women’s race was dominated by Queenslander Liz Pluimers, finishing fifteen minute ahead of Kiwi Rachel Clarke, with another Australian Tania Moohin completing the women’s podium.
MAUI JIM MOLOKAI CHALLENGE 2016
1. Hank McGregor (RSA) 3:45:34
2.Sean Rice (RSA) 3:47:01
3.Jasper Mocké (RSA) 3:48:19
4.Clint Robinson (Aus) 3:49:20
5.Joey Hall (Aus) 4:01:02
1.Elizabeth Pluimers 4:18:33
2.Rachel Clarke 4:34:49
3.Tania Moohin 4:48:22
4.Carrie Turner 5:27:57
5.Kiyomi Makino 5:49:30
Images: Matt Moon