The Mormaii 27 Mile Pailolo Express held on Sunday July 11th. Otherwise know as the Maui to Molokai Crossing. The first time I did this crossing I was 8 1/2 years old – and I windsurfed across it. But this time I did it – I WON FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!!
This was a fantastic event put on by Handsome Bugga Productions – thank you Rodney and everyone else for all their hard work and organization.
On the race day the forecast was looking like it could be a fast race with a lot of wind. The event started at Honolua Bay at 10 am. At the start line some of the big guns were Dave Kalama, Ekolu Kalama, Livio Menelau, Mark Raaphorst, and Scott Trudon.
At the start we all had to sit on our boards in a line which was super fair. We had no wind at the start because a rain squall had just passed. When the green flag went up it was a GO. Everyone went out of there like it was going to be a 10 mile race – I got a good start – but after about 10 minutes I was behind those big guns. I was just pacing myself in the beginning. Plus it was flat water so the guys with longer boards (and bigger muscles) were faster.
Everyone went on different courses – Dave Kalama went south, Ekolu went even more to the south, Mark Raaphorst, Livio Menelau and I went a little more on a North route across the channel. Before the race, I had discussed some strategy with my parents. The direction of the wind, which plays a very important role in your course. Keeping a watch on Ekolu, because he knows this channel really well. Watching Ekolu going so far south – I decided to go my way and head more north to the center of the channel to get to the wind as quickly as possible.
Over an hour into the race, I had caught up to two of the leaders which were Mark and Livio. Mark was north of me and Livio south. And I could see Dave Kalama a long way in the distance – but south of me. As soon as I started to head more downwind towards Dave, I noticed I was catching up to him. When I finally caught up and passed him I was so relieved, because now I was in first place, but all of a sudden he caught back up to me and passed me. We went back and forth like this for at least three miles. This was the most fun part of the race. We were close together – and it made it more interesting.
Once we got into the best section of the race where I was catching up to one minute glides I pulled away. This section is the windiest – with trades 18 – 25 mph and better swells. When I finally had a comfortable distance from Dave, I had the best feeling thinking that I had already won – well until I had seven more miles to go and Ekolu Kalama just came out of nowhere. He had been so south of me towards the Island of Lanai, that I did not give it much thought. But all of sudden there he was.
The winds were getting lighter, and I had to work much harder to get a bump and glide. Now I was paddling much harder. My parents were on the escort boat encouraging me – telling me to paddle harder, keep going, I could do it!
He was a little more to the south of me which was a good thing for me because when we had to turn to go into the harbor, I had the inside track – so I was a lot closer than he was. And once I crossed that finish line with no one in front – I knew that I did it. I won the Crossing – and four thousand dollars.
Connor Baxter = 3:29:02
Ekolu Kalama = 3:30:08
David Kalama = 3:32:25
Livio Menelau = 3:32:58
Mark Raaphorst = 3:37:17
I want to thank Mark Raaphorst, Livio Menelau, Scott Trudon, Bart de Schwart for all the time and support they have devoted to training with me!!!!!!!!! Also, Scott Sanchez (MPG) for his wisdom on fitness and training!!
And, a big thank you to all my sponsors for their help and support – Starboard, Nike 6.0, SIC, Dakine, Sunrite Maui, Waterman’s Sunscreen, and Ion Wetsuits.
Photos: Karen Baxter!!
Lining up for the start – all competitors had to sit on their boards until the green flag.
The Start: Connor in the lead.
Maui in the background
Competitors spreading out – Maui in the background
Bart de Schwart next to me.
Molokai in the background
Dave Kalama in front
Both on a Glide
Headed to the Finish – Ekolu Kalama behind to right, Dave Kalama behind to left
Dave Kalama (3rd), Livio Menelau (4th), Mark Raaphorst (5th), Ekolu Kalama (2nd), Connor Baxter (1st)