Molokai Challenge: Date change debate rages

Wednesday, 15 May 2013 16:57 | Written by  Gameplan Media
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Molokai Challenge: Date change debate rages

Oahu, Hawaii - Debate is raging in Hawaii ahead of the Molokai Challenge surfski ultra-marathon this weekend at which Oscar Chalupsky is aiming to win a 13th title, as weather forecasts point to the winds and swell drying up just before the scheduled start at 11am local time on Sunday 19 May.

Chalupsky is part of the large contingent of elite surfski racers who have been enjoying magnificent downwind racing conditions off Oahu this week in preparation for the event, which has been widely regarded as the world championships of long-distance surfski racing.

There is growing support from the entrants to push the race start forward to Saturday, when it looks like the ideal 15-20 knot easterly winds will still be blowing, creating near perfect racing conditions.

Oscar Chalupsky

The big O, training at home in Durban, South Africa

"If it happens, it will be the first time that the race date has been moved," said Chalupsky from Oahu. "This Southerly swell only happens once every three years or so, and it has created classic fifteen to twenty foot swells for the guys training here this week. But it is going to dry up later on the weekend."

"The general consensus here is that people have travelled from all over the world to race the Molokai, and it makes sense to race in the best possible conditions. Sunday looks flat, but Saturday will still have a perfect East blowing, which will make for great racing."


Not looking so good for Sunday!

The event organisers being lobbied for the change to the race start are expected to make a decision on Thursday.

Waiting Game

Several elite paddlers, like Molokai veteran Dean Gardiner have not left home yet, waiting to see if decent downwind racing conditions will be on offer before committing to the race.

To make things worse, the week of steady wind and swell has whipped up the surf at the start on the island on Molokai, making it impossible for the barge carrying the competitors skis and equipment to land at the start.

"The surf is absolutely massive at Molokai at the moment," said Chalupsky. "Each paddler is going to have to swim out through the ten foot surf to the barge, collect their skis, paddles and equipment and get ready for the deep water start."

Nations Cup

As Chalupsky, backed by the Richmark Group, bids to become the first 50 year old to win the legendary surfski race, he is also eyeing the Nations Cup competition that is decided by the first three paddlers from a country finishing the race.

"As usual there is a very strong contingent of American, Australian and New Zealanders here, but we have South Africans like Sean Rice and Craig Flanagan here so it could be a good competition this year," said Chalupsky.

Sean Rice

Sean Rice is current South African single ski champion and beat Dawid and Jasper Mocke (Current World Champion and runner up) last week in Spain

Chalupsky finished just off the pace in the midweek warm-up race, where the likes of Hungarian Zsolt Szadovski and the fancied Australian Cory Hill showed good form. The 40 year old Australian Olympic sprinter Clint Robinson has been flying under the radar in the build-up to the event, and did not take part in the warm-up race.

The Molokai Challenge takes place on 19 May over 52km from Kaluakoi resort on the island of Molokai across the open water of the Kaiwi Channel to Hawaii Kai Town Centre on the island of Oahu. 

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