Mark Raaphorst from S.I.C. kept talking about the Olukai race that went on May 17 and 18, 2009 and it sounded like fun so I flew from Oahu to Maui to participate. I was excited because Maliko downwinders are legendary and I was ready for the action. Before the race weekend, I kept looking at the wind forecasts and got worried because the forecast was for a headwind and not the awesome 25+ mph tailwind that we see and hear about.
I have to admit that the race turned out to be the hardest paddle I’ve ever done and ever want to do. It was a beautiful day, sunny and blue skies but there wasn’t any wind. In fact, there was a slight headwind when we first started out. I started the race pounding away when I realized that I would be out of energy in 5 minutes going at that pace. Once I paced myself, everyone started passing me. First, it was guys on 12′ SUPs. Next it was women on 12′ SUP’s. The kids were already beating me and I was determined not to be last. My shirt was soaked with sweat. Enough complaining already…the food and people were exceptionally great. It was like one big family. Everyone was friendly and positive. They all looked way younger than their age. Donna Badome (Mark Raaphorst’s wife) won the 50 – 59 year old category on a 12′ Ku Nalu SUP. She finished something like 20 seconds in front of me. For the last 1.5 miles, I was trying to catch her and could not do it. I wish she was on some super high tech 18′ machine that Mark shaped but she was on a stock 12′ Ku Nalu. I know she’s a great paddler (she looks like a triathlete) so I don’t feel that bad. At least she didn’t laugh at me. Check out the video:
Here’s a photo recap of the race and events:
Click on results image to enlarge
Download race results on PDF here: