CONNOR BAXTER WINS
THE MOLOKAI-2-OAHU WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
AND BREAKS HIS OWN WORLD RECORD
The 2014 Molokai to Oahu was a great event. We went over to Molokai on our boat three days before the event. It was nice to just relax and take it all in before the grueling 32-mile channel crossing. The night before my mom made her traditional competition meal, I got a good night rest and was ready to go the next morning. We loaded the boat with our provisions and I got ready to go to the start line. I did a little warm-up paddle to make sure I was ready to go and then I lined up on the starting line after the prone paddlers left.
As it got closer to the start everyone stood up and slowly started moving forward. Before they could even start the race everyone was paddling as hard as they could so they had to start the race. It was still a fair start and everyone was off. I was up in the front with Kai Lenny and Riggs Napoleon for the beginning of the race. As the bumps got better Kai and I started pulling away – as well as Travis Grant, Scott Gamble and Dave Kalama.
For the first half of the race the bumps were small but still very fun and easy to catch. Dave, Scott, Travis, Kai and I all were in the top five positions. We were all very close and at that point of the race I had no clue who was going to win. Then all of a sudden the bumps got bigger, more perfect and at that point I knew it was my time – so I put my head down and didn’t look back. After a half an hour or more I looked back and noticed I had a huge gap on the group. I got into a good pace and tried to conserve some energy.
Suddenly my escort boat and team started yelling at me that Travis was gaining on me with a lot of speed and a lot of momentum. I tried to kick it back up, but it was too late and he caught up to me. He even put a little gap on me – which was a good thing – because it gave me a spark of energy and I was back in it to win it.
I was a little behind and my water was running low so I knew I had to catch up and put a little gap on him to make the exchange for a new water pack. So that’s exactly what I did and I made a perfect exchange with my sister. She put the new pack on my board and I never stopped. I reached down – got on a glide and put the pack on. Thanks Ashley for that perfect exchange!
This allowed Travis to catch back up with me and at this point I knew the race for first was between Travis and me all the way into the finish line. The bumps were not great, but there was something to catch, so I put my head down and kicked into high gear and started pulling away from Travis. I had a small gap on him, and then I noticed that his escort boat was driving ahead to make an exchange for his Waterpack. I knew this was my opportunity to get ahead of him and hopefully hold the gap all the way into the finish line, so I paddled as hard as I could as soon as he went to make the exchange and I actually caught a couple great bumps and made a comfortable lead.
The whole time my support team was screaming at me and keeping me amped up to paddle my hardest. I tried not to look back that much and focus on winning. I rounded Portlock and still had a comfortable lead on Travis. I was feeling pretty confident that I was going to win but the race isn’t over until the fat lady sings. So I kept it on full throttle, and actually caught a few small waves that got me more in front of Travis. The last quarter mile my girlfriend, sister and mom were screaming at me to beat my old record, which inspired me to paddle even harder even though I was cramping up.
When I crossed the finished line I was so relieved the race was over and even more stocked on my first place, breaking my old record by 5 minutes. 4 hours 8 minutes 8 seconds. If it wasn’t for my girlfriend – my mom – my sister – my dad and my sponsors – I would not have been able to win the 2014 Molokai to Oahu.
I want to thank my sponsors for all their support – Starboard, Dakine, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Rainbow Sandals, Futures Fins, UB Real, Virus Sportswear, Trident Sports, GoPro, OnIt Pro, Waterman’s Sunscreen, Garmin, Igloo Coolers, Hammer Nutrition, iDcard, Sunrite Maui, and Hi-Tech Sports.
Also a big Mahalo to all the event organizers and volunteers. Great Event!! Brutal – but really a great event.
And if you want full results check out this link: http://live.pseresults.com/e/61#/results
** Photos by my mom – Karen Baxter
Travis Grant (2nd), Connor, Scott Gamble (3rd)
Start of the Race
Gliding and drinking water
Some great glides
Cooling off – splashing some water on his face
Coming around Portlock catching waves
Catching another wave
And another wave