After finishing 4th at the recently concluded Molokai Paddleboard race, I had a chance to talk to Morgan Hoesterey, the only female paddler for the SUP solo unlimited division. Morgan said that her stint in this race was just to step up to the challenge; she never expected anything from it. Using a 14’ board without rudder, Morgan would definitely go for one with rudder in next year’s race. In her first solo attempt in this event, she said it was an incredible feat but it was all worth it. The reason-“It was a goal I set for myself so I was just trying really hard to finish it.” I give Morgan a lot of credit. I lasted about 20 minutes in the Molokai Channel and 8 hours seems like torture. She also has overcome some pretty scary health challenges…a tumor in her leg while still in college. Check out the interview.
Evan Leong: This last downwinder, when you train normally?
Morgan Hoesterey: Well kind of, for stuff like downwinder; I go with, or when, who ever will take me with them. Whoever will tolerate me I guess? (0:00:13.9) I don’t like to do it by myself so before the Molokai thing I was training off with Jeff. He will call and he will let me call with him which is really nice. Whatever he does or wherever Jeff go he tolerates me, I’ll go with him. (0:00:30.4)
Evan Leong: That’s cool.
Morgan Hoesterey: Yes I like chasing after him. (0:00:32.6)
Evan Leong: So before you did the Molokai race, when did you start stand up paddle surfing? (0:00:43.0)
Morgan Hoesterey: The first time I was ever on a stand up paddle board was in like November of 2007, like around Thanksgiving time. (0:00:51.7)
Evan Leong: Really, not even like half, maybe about half a year ago. (0:00:57.3)
Morgan Hoesterey: Yes. I had this like: I’m going to do the Molokai races like around March and everyone thought I was crazy, and no one really took me very seriously. And finally like April, I’ve got upset for not being taken seriously, so I was like ok, “I will show everybody”. And it was all like down hill spiral from there kind of thing. (0:01:18.9)
Evan Leong: What kind of background do you have in sports?
Morgan Hoesterey:I was a swimmer for UH (0:01:24.2) I did like the whole of the Olympic trial thing in all that no intention to win and stuff. But in 2004, I had like a big tumor pulled out of my leg and it kind of ended the swimming career for me. (0:01:40.1)
Evan Leong: Did that affect you having a stand up for that long? (0:01:43.5)
Morgan Hoesterey: No. It’s fine now. It was just at that time like it was kind of a peak point in my whole swimming career thing, so the knee thing came at a really inconvenient time so that maybe was one of the reasons why I like stand ups so much, because I can do stand up. And it kind of replaced that whole thing. (0:02:03.3)
Evan Leong: Did you surf too or not really? (0:02:06.2)
Morgan Hoesterey: Yes, a longboard. (0:02:07.7)
Evan Leong: What kind of training did you do to prepare for the Molokai?
Morgan Hoesterey: Well I tried to go into downwind run like at least three times a week. And then finally went on two or three like really long ones. Like one time I went with Jeff and and that guy Kevin (Seid), who got 3rd, the guy from Everpaddle. (0:02:28.7)
Evan Leong: How far did you go?
Morgan Hoesterey: We went for a 20 mile run. We went from Backyard to Mokuleia? (0:02:34.8)
Evan Leong: On the North shore.
Morgan Hoesterey: Yes. That was first long one that I did and then the other one from Sandy’s (Beach) to Ala Moana Bowls (0:02:43.9)
Evan Leong: Ok
Morgan Hoesterey: And I did that only three times.
Evan Leong: So you didn’t train that much then?
Morgan Hoesterey: I didn’t do that many super distance things, but I tried to do a lot of endurance and stuff, like apply what I used to do for swimming. (0:02:59.0)
Evan Leong: What kind of things were those?
Morgan Hoesterey: Like I climb Koko-Head Crater a lot. I got to a point where I was going up and down three times in a row, which for me was like huge because I don’t like stairs very much. (0:03:10.2) That was more of like just kind of nerve training thing and also mental training like trying to get through something that I necessarily wasn’t having a really good time, but just trying to get through it. Does that make sense? (0:03:22.4)
Evan Leong: So how was the Molokai run for you being not being there ever before?
Morgan Hoesterey: It’s okay, I mean I definitely will be lying if I told you that I didn’t underestimate it all. I kind of win this like a stubborn mode, like I’m going to do this and nobody’s going to tell me that I can’t – type of situation. (0:03:40.7)
I wasn’t necessarily prepared for waves coming at me from every direction all the time. It was like not as oranganized (waves) as I maybe had pictured it in my head. To be honest, like the first six hours was fine. People kept talking about that 3-hour wall and everything, but I never really hit that 3-hour wall. I more hit (0:04:03.7) like the sixth hour wall when it started to feel like I just wasn’t going anywhere. When the current started working against me. (0:04:09.7)
Evan Leong: Did you ever want to quit?
Morgan Hoesterey: No. I mean an hour like seven, I got really frustrated, it was like waves were hitting me from every direction, I was falling off all the time. I got really frustrated so I sat down and I ate a sandwich. And then after I ate my sandwich, I felt a little better, but at that point I had been looking at Hanauma Bay for at least an hour at that point. It felt like I was so close but the island wasn’t getting any closer. It was one of those things that well, I kept telling myself that: “Ok, I have my ipod, I’ll just paddle through this song and then I’ll rest” (0:04:57.6) and then that song will end and then I’ll be like, “I’ll paddle through one more song and I’ll rest.” I never really got to a point I felt like I wanted to quit, but I was definitely having that mentally like talk myself through a little more. (0:05:09.3)
Evan Leong: Did you see any sharks?
Morgan Hoesterey: No, I didn’t see any sharks. To be honest with you, I was like, this will sound weird, but I was a little disappointed, I’m in a Molokai Channel and I didn’t see anything. I thought at one point I saw a big dark thing, kind of underneath me, but it wasn’t shaped like a shark at all. It was either a drift net or manta ray (0:05:30.4) or something. I mean, I’m not disappointed but I was expecting to see something but nothing really, there were tons of birds. (0:05:39.9)
Evan Leong: Was there anything unexpected that you experienced or saw in the Molokai race?
Morgan Hoesterey: The thing was, everybody was everybody told me when you leave Molokai you can’t see Oahu. And I didn’t believe anybody, usually on a kind of a murky day, you can see Molokai from here but that’s how it was you couldn’t see Oahu at all. So I wasn’t really expecting to leave Molokai just paddling in a direction not really knowing where you’re going. But something that Doug Lock (0:06:10.9) told me helped a lot, was that I could finally see Oahu, he told me to aim for a saddle (0:06:14.1) or whatever and so the morning I asked them what it was but I couldn’t see. As soon as I could see the island, “oh that’s what he’s talking about”. That was really helpful. (0:06:27.0)
Evan Leong: What kind of advice would you give for people training for this (Molokai run) next year?
Morgan Hoesterey: Maybe a few longer runs especially if you’re not fast, like me, I’m not very fast. It’s just one of those things you can endure, if you can paddle all day you’re going to make it but, like maybe train for an 8-hour race. The longest I paddled at one time was like 31/2 hrs and then in the middle of the Molokai thing it’s like 8 hours, I was like- ok, this is longer than I bargained for but I think it’s such a mental race that you like to want to finish it. If you want it, you can do it. (0:07:07.7)
Evan Leong: Did you ever wish that you were on the two-man crew or the four-man crew instead?
Morgan Hoesterey: No. At no point did I ever think doing it solo. This is more of like a personal mission for me. At this point in my life, I felt like I needed a challenge and I kind of take this is as my challenge and it was more for me to overcome it , just for myself than for anybody else. I was just happy that I was out there. It was a goal I set for myself so I was just trying really hard to finish it. (0:07:40.8)
Evan Leong: So for beginners, just getting into this kind of distance and downwind runs what kind of advice do you have for them.
Morgan Hoesterey: I’d say, don’t think about the distance. Don’t let like an 8-mile run intimidate you. Because the distance sounds longer than it is. Especially for the Hawaii Kai Run and stuff, don’t be like: “oh 8 hours or 8-miles I can’t do it.” I just think that, you have to go for it and if you get tired, sit down and wait until you’re not quite as tired and then keep going. Just don’t let it intimidate you. (0:08:12.5)
Evan Leong: How about catching the bumps and ocean swells and connecting them. Any tips for that?
Morgan Hoesterey: That’s something for me, like I still have so much to learn in that area, but I think that’s the hardest part and probably the most valuable part, but I don’t know, the more you’re out there, the more you learn which ones will work and which ones don’t. Like which bumps are go and, you have to learn which one want to push and which ones you don’t. As I’m sure you know. (0:08:39.7)
Evan Leong: I’m just learning.
Morgan Hoesterey: I still have so much to learn. That’s why I like the sport so much because I still have so much to learn. (0:08:48.0)
Evan Leong: What equipment were you riding?
Morgan Hoesterey: I was on one of the Wet Feet prototype that was shaped by Ted Spencer.
Evan Leong: How long was it?
Morgan Hoesterey: 14′ and it didn’t have a rudder. (0:08:58.1)
Evan Leong: Was it hard without a rudder? (0:09:00.1)
Morgan Hoesterey: Yes. Next year when I do it, I’m going to do it with a rudder. (0:09:03.5)
Evan Leong: Are you going to go 14′ or longer? (0:09:06.0)
Morgan Hoesterey: I don’t necessarily think it needs to be longer but it has to have a rudder. (0:09:12.6)
Evan Leong: Your paddle length was how long? (0:09:16.2)
Morgan Hoesterey: My paddle was 79″.
Evan Leong: So it’s 13″ over you?
Morgan Hoesterey: Yes it’s long, everyone always comments on how long it is, but I like them a little longer (0:09:37.4)
Evan Leong: Are you getting into surfing too or not really just more distance? (0:9:43.7)
Morgan Hoesterey: Yes, actually now that the Molokai race is over I’m excited to get more into surfing. I mean I’ve been playing around with it and it’s fun and I really like it. I’m looking forward to now (0:09:53.2) after this whole season being over, getting to it a little more. (0:09:58.6)
Evan Leong: Ok, cool.