Athletes from Team Quickblade swept the field in Sunday’s 2014 Molokai to Oahu paddleboard race when the top six finishers in the men’s Unlimited Class each crossed the finish line of the epic 32 mile long race. Conner Baxter edged out defending 2013 champion Travis Grant to reclaim the crown at stand up paddling’s most prestigious race. In order of finish, the top six men’s Unlimited Class competitors were: Conner Baxter (Quickblade V-Drive), Travis Grant (Quickblade Trifecta), Scott Gamble (Quickblade V-Drive), Kai Lenny (Quickblade V-Drive), Dave Kalama (Quickblade V-Drive) and Livio Menelau (Quickblade V-Drive).
Known simply as “Molokai”, the race is the pinnacle event in a paddle athlete’s career. It is the ultimate test of skill and endurance where the conditions challenge even the most experienced paddlers. Each athlete charts their course across the infamous “Channel of Bones”, employing a strategy which they hope will enable them to reach the opposing shore victorious. “The Ka’iwi Channel doesn’t care if you’ve won nine races…it will chew you up and spit you out,” said Jamie Mitchell, who won the event 10 consecutive times on a prone paddleboard.
In addition to the men’s Unlimited Class top finishers, Belar “Mr. Everywhere” Diaz delivered a sensational performance, finishing second in his division and sixth overall in the 14’ SUP class. No stranger to Hawaiian waters, the globe trotting Spaniard is a channel crossing specialist and perennial challenger in SUP races around the world.
Germany’s Sonni Hönscheid won the women’s Unlimited Class SUP becoming the first European to win stand up paddling’s top prize against a competitive field of top international paddlers.
In a message posted to social media, Quickblade founder Jim Terrell said, “On this day I am so very proud of all the competitors who used a Quickblade paddle in their race today. I can only hope that they chose a Quickblade because they thought it would give them the best equipment on the day. For those of you on the QB Team, I am more proud of how well you fought and how well you tried out there to do your very best. And I most importantly hope that you had fun doing it.”
This year was the 18th annual Molokai to Oahu race and the fourth year for stand up paddlers. It draws competitive endurance athletes from around the world to take part in solo and team divisions and is recognized as the most challenging paddleboard race in the world.