Molokai Local Wins Chanel Race

Ekolu Kalama record-breaking first in standup paddling division
Story by Kodi Piirto, Photo by Bernie Baker

The 2009 Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard Race took off Sunday morning with emotions running high and adrenaline pumping. As the sun came over the horizon dozens of competitors from around the world applied their sunscreen, adjusted equipments and prepared for what is considered to be the most brutal physical and mental challenge in the world for watermen.

“It’s the Super Bowl of stand up paddle boarding,” said local favorite Ekolu Kalama as he made his way to the beach before the event.

 At 7:30 am competitors set off from Kaluakoi beach through the Molokai Channel (Kaiwai Channel) on a 32-mile trek across open-ocean with 25 mph winds at their back. The Molokai Channel is one of the most dangerous waterways in the world with competitors taming swells that can range anywhere from 3 to 15 feet. With unpredictable waves and unwieldy currents this competition can push even a veteran’s body and mind to the limit.

Making sense of the mayhem, local champ Ekolu Kalama crossed the finish line first in the men’s unlimited standup paddling division with a time of 5:02:06. Kalama takes home the winning the purse of $3,000.

“He beat the world record by 1 hour.  Molokai should be really proud of him,” said race director Mike Takahashi

This was the first year that Ekolu did not partner alongside his cousin David Kalama as a relay team in the race, “I have mixed feelings; I definitely want to win and will have to beat Dave to do it.”

For the past 3 years Ekolu and his cousin Dave have competed together and won the relay division of the race.

Molokai native Carlos Kuhn, partnered with Kainoa Beaupr, also finished a respectful fourth in the standup team stock division with a time of 5:46:19.

For the eighth consecutive year Jamie Mitchell won the paddleboard division of the race. This year he took the gold with a time of 4:58:25, beating his closest competitor Hawaii’s Brian Rocheleau by 22:28.

This year’s new sponsors Rainbow Sandals and Honolua Surf Co. attracted a record number of competitors. Of 125 entries, only 5 failed to finish the race.

(For complete results

Unlimited – Elite
Jamie Mitchell (Aus) 4:58:25
Brian Rocheleau (HI) 5:20:53
Tim Foran (Aus) 5:30:45

Stock – Elite
Mikey Cote (HI) 5:32:25

Women Overall
Kanesa Duncan (HI) 6:29:29
Bianca Lee (Aus) 6:46:08

SUP Solo Unlimited
Ekolu Kalama (HI) 5:02:06
Guy Pere (HI) 5:22:01
Scott Gamble 5:22:39

SUP Solo Woman
Jenny Kalmbach (Big Island) 5:48:31

SUP Team Unlimited
Aaron Napoleon &
Kai Bartlett 4:45:17

SUP Team Stock
Noland Martin & Greg Pavao (HI) 5:28:51


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