21 May 2013
Oscar Chalupsky’s bid to claim a 13th Molokai Challenge surfski marathon title in the year that he turned 50 ended with a ninth-place finish in Hawaii on Monday, with fellow South African Sean Rice coming within a whisker of winning the race on debut.
Rice led with less than two kilometres to go in the brutal 52km crossing of the Kaiwi Channel, also known as the Channel of Bones, but was beaten to the finish at the Hawaii Kai Town Centre by former Olympic gold medallist Clint Robinson of Australia, who took the laurels in just less than four hours.
“Congratulations to Clint for the win today,” said Chalupsky, a 12-time Molokai winner. “It was very tough for me today, but the ninth was all I could expect in the headwind conditions.
“I started really well, but as the headwind wore on the younger guys started to come through – you can see that in the results.
“It was probably the toughest Molokai I have done. My average speed was 11.5km/h, when we usually average around 16km/h on a typical Molokai.”
Chalupsky led a bunch of contenders including Robinson and Rice on a northerly line from the start, staying on the rhumb line, while Martin Kenny spearheaded a group that went slightly further south.
Racing on flat seas in extreme heat and a slight northerly wind from the side, the race turned into a relentless grind with no downwind runs available to the paddlers.
Robinson gradually took the race by the scruff of the neck, sticking close to the rhumb line, and an hour-and-a-half into the race the field had strung out with Robinson leading Sam Norton, Sean Rice, Dane Sloss and Chalupsky, in fifth.
As they approached Portlock Point, the race had become a two-horse affair, with Rice taking the lead over Robinson, and the duo well clear of the rest of the contenders.
By the time the leaders approached the legendary China Wall, where the surf was breaking in a 10-foot wall on the inside line close to the cliffs, Robinson was back in front, and caught a wave into the finish at Pillars and the town centre.
‘A long haul’
“Conditions were really tough, but the wind from the right cooled things down a bit,” said Robinson. “It was a long haul.”
Local star Pat Dolan had clung tenaciously to third but was caught out by the massive surf at China Wall and dumped, smashing his ski into three pieces.
Australian Miranda Davis won the women’s race, with a 25th place finish overall.
The race organisers have committed to holding the event in a four-day window period in the future to take advantage of optimal downwind racing conditions.
“It is an international event, there are a handful of local Hawaiians and everyone else has flown in, so holding it over a window period is the way to go,” said Chalupsky.
- Clint Robinson (Aus) 3:55:24
- Sean Rice (RSA) 4:00:43
- Cory Hill (Aus) 4:06:04
- Sam Norton (Aus) 4:12:43
- Craig Flanagan (RSA) 4:21:07
- Martin Kenny (Aus) 4:21:19
- Mike Walker (NZL) 4:21:44
- Dane Sloss (Aus) 4:26:50
- Oscar Chalupsky (RSA) 4:28:24
- Michael Beyer (Haw) 4:28:27
- Zsolt Szadovszki (Hun) 4:28:41
- Grant Kenny (Aus) 4:29:27
- Simon Longdill (NZL) 4:30:02
- Matt O’Garey (Aus) 4:31:08
- Jeff Le Marseney (Aus) 4:32:50
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