Molokai Challenge Deemed a Success

Sixth annual event raised over $1,000 for isle youth groups.

From left to right Elle Cochran,Claire Seeger Mawae, Zane Schweitzer and Shawneen Schweitzer pose with mock-check of funds raised during 2008 Molokai Challenge.

By Albert Lanier

“Quality not quantity” was the phrase chanted- as if a mantra- on Saturday, August 30th by Clare Seeger Mawae, organizer of the Molokai Challenge which was held that day.
A handful of participants took their places in the 2008 edition of this now six year old event. The Challenge essentially consists of a crossing of the Pailolo Channel which commenced from DT Flemings Beach on Maui and concluded at Kamalo on Molokai.
There were four registered divisions: Stand-up Paddle Board, Windsurfing, Tandem Windsurfing and Kiteboarding.
Most of the participants took the stand-up paddle board route. Entrants Elle Cochran, Shawneen Schweitzer and her son 14 year old Zach Kekoa Schweitzer worked as a team.

A participant in the Challenge for four years, Zach Schweitzer said that he opted to eschew the windsurfing he did in past events and try stand up paddling (SUP) this year “’cause it’s the new thing.”

Lifeguard Archie Kalepa also SUP’d in this year’s Molokai Challenge and cross the channel with the fastest time of 3 hours and 10 seconds.

Though skies were clear and sunny, gusty winds were largely non-existent until participants headed toward Kamalo where they began to pick up considerably.

“Right when we got here, the wind blew” Kalepa said at Kamalo after the race.

“You need good wind, good swell-good swell conditions” said Kalepa about what makes for effective paddleboarding.

“Normally, you get these conditions on a daily basis” Kalepa observed about the lack of Windsurfers Jace Panebianco and Doug Miller also surfed the crossing in tandem.

While surfers and paddle boarders might find the course and the conditions of interest, the point of the event is not running a race but raising funds.

This year’s Molokai Challenge raised $1,800 for youth groups on the islands through the auspices of the Youth in Motion organization.

The 2008 event stood out from its predecessors because it marked the first time the Molokai Challenge had been held as a stand alone event.

According to Mawae, the Challenge had previously been part of a youth festival called “A Celebration of Youth Opportunities” which featured activities and events such as a sports clinic.

However, the Challenge had failed to forward much money to youth groups in the past because the costs of the festival had to be covered. The number of participants in the event has gone down of late. The first Molokai Challenge in 2002 featured 84 people and averaged 80 entrants for a couple of years.

But a lack of grant money and corporate funding help produce a downturn in participation since Mawae couldn’t pay for escort boats to shadow surfers, entrants had to produce their own boats as they did for this year’s Challenge.

Thus, while there were 15 registered entrants, only a few participants actually took part in the event.

However, Mawae’s spirits were buoyed by the fact that $1,800 was raised for distribution to youth groups and by the fact she was able to observe and keep tabs on the event from an observer boat. “Although (the turnout) was very small, I worked out a few of the kinks” noted Mawae.

The 2008 Molokai Challenge did have some sponsors including the Molokai Business Association and Young Brothers. Positive attitudes from participants like Schweitzer and Kalepa also contributed the good feeling experienced after the event.
“It was a good workout” Kalepa observed about this year’s Challenge “It was still awesome, still great.”

Mawae hopes to have larger field of participants for next year’s Challenge. Her future goals include reaching a point when the event can raise $50 to $100,000 each year for youth groups throughout Molokai.


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