Honolulu - Hank McGregor underscored his status as one of the best paddlers on the planet by winning a second title in the Maui Jim Molokai Challenge in Hawaii on Sunday, beating Australian star Clint Robinson in a thrilling finish to the tough 56km race.
Faced with tough flat and windless conditions for the Kaiwi channel crossing between Molokai and Oahu, the title race quickly turned into a two-horse affair between defending champion Robinson and 2009 champ and current K1 World Marathon champion McGregor.
McGregor made a charge with six kilometres to go and lead by almost a minute as he approached the turn at the fabled China Wall, where he was able to surf the swell close to the shore thanks to the mild ocean conditions.
Robinson however put in a serious last ditch effort to reel in McGregor as the turned into the estuary that houses the finish, and in the final two kilometres he ground McGregor's lead down to thirty seconds.
Australians Cory Hill and Jeremy Cotter filled third and fourth places respectively before current world series leader and Molokai debutant Jasper Mocké crossed the line to take firth, just ahead of another Australian stalwart Martin Kenny.
12-time champion Oscar Chalupsky finished 10th, with the Durban North brothers Ross and Bruce Poacher the first double skin crew home in 11th.
The women's race was won by Rachel Clarke from Lisa Wadling, and the double ski crew of Sally Marks and Alena Greensill.
The field was made to work hard in the flat conditions with no assistance from the trade winds and swell, which deserted the Kaiwi channel after a fortnight of excellent downwind racing conditions. Temperatures topped thirty degrees throughout the race, with stifling humidity making racing tough for the paddlers.
The prevailing conditions replicated last year's disappearance for the trade winds, and came close to replicating the 2009 conditions in which McGregor took his maiden Molokai title.
1. Hank McGregor 3:35.17
2. Clint Robinson 3:35.40
3. Cory Hill 3:41.49
4. Jeremy Cotter 3:44.24
5. Jasper Mocke 3:48.34
6. Martin Kenny 3:48.50
7. Lewis Laughlin 3:52.58
8. Dorian Wolter 3:57.46
9. Hiromana Flores 3:59.13
10. Oscar Chalupsky 4:02.15