McGregor races to Molokai Challenge win

21 May 2014

Hank McGregor underlined his status as one of the best paddlers in the world by winning a second title in the Maui Jim Molokai Challenge in Hawaii on the weekend after holding off Australian star Clint Robinson in a thrilling finish to the tough 56km race.

Faced with tough flat and windless conditions for the Kaiwi channel crossing between Molokai and Oahu, the title race quickly turned into a two-horse affair between defending champion Robinson and 2009 champ and current K1 world marathon champion McGregor.

Made a charge

The South African star made a charge with six kilometres to go and led by almost a minute as he approached the turn at the fabled China Wall, where he was able to surf the swell close to the shore, thanks to the mild ocean conditions.

Robinson, however, put in a serious last ditch effort to reel in McGregor as they turned into the estuary that houses the finish, and in the final two kilometres he ground McGregor’s lead down to 30 seconds.

Australians Cory Hill and Jeremy Cotter filled third and fourth places respectively before current Surfski World Series leader and Molokai debutant Jasper Mocke crossed the line to take fifth place, just ahead of another Australian stalwart, Martin Kenny.

First doubles crew

Twelve-time champion Oscar Chalupsky finished tenth, with the Durban North brothers, Ross and Bruce Poacher, becoming the first double skin crew home in eleventh place.

Victory in the women’s race went to Rachel Clarke, with Lisa Wadling in second, followed by the double ski crew of Sally Marks and Alena Greensill.

Made to work hard

The field was made to work hard in the flat conditions with no assistance from the trade winds and swell, which deserted the Kaiwi channel after a fortnight of excellent downwind racing conditions.

Temperatures topped 30 degrees throughout the race, with stifling humidity making racing tough for the paddlers.

The prevailing conditions replicated last year’s disappearance of the trade winds, and came close to replicating the 2009 conditions in which McGregor took his maiden Molokai title.

RESULTS

    1. Hank McGregor 3:35.17
    2. Clint Robinson 3:35.40
    3. Cory Hill 3:41.49
    4. Jeremy Cotter 3:44.24
    5. Jasper Mocke 3:48.34
    6. Martin Kenny 3:48.50
    7. Lewis Laughlin 3:52.58
    8. Dorian Wolter 3:57.46
    9. Hiromana Flores 3:59.13
    10. Oscar Chalupsky 4:02.15

SAinfo reporter