Durban - South African surfski paddlers hit the headlines in Hawaii as Hayley
Nixon won the women's race of the Maui Jim Molokai Challenge, and Hank McGregor
and Jasper Mocké raced onto the men's podium in second and third, respectively.
Nixon (Shaw and Partner/Euro Steel/Carbonology), racing in her first ever start
at the 53km crossing of the fabled Channel of Bones, broke the women's
course record in the process, and said she was elated at the achievement.
the reigning world women's surfski champion, finished two minutes ahead of the
classy Kiwi Rachel Clarke, with Australian Jordan Mercer another two minutes
"We were blessed with the Hawaii tradewinds and they reckon these were the
best conditions they have seen in five years, between 15 and 20 knots
East-North East wind which is perfect for the line to mainland Honolulu.
"The women's field was the most packed it has ever been. It was quite
daunting for me because I only confirmed that I was coming to the event three
weeks before, so I didn't have those months of mental preparation.
"I had a lot of faith in my coach Linton and the way we trained, and I
knew that I would be able to transition across to the long distances.
"The race was cut-throat from start to finish," she added.
quite early in the race I realised that Rachel Clark and Jordan Mercer were
going quite hard. I wasn't sure that it was the best thing to do at that stage.
"I tried to be as conservative as possible. I had done some really good
paddles with Oscar Chalupsky earlier in the week, and his main advice was to be
as conservative as possible.
"I watched Rachel and Jordan clash it out for thirty kays, and I was
pretty impressed, thinking they would keep that pace up the whole way.
"My boat skipper kept us on a really good line. He was incredible. He has
done the crossing 26 times. It was sublime, because we were just riding wind
and swell all the time. At some stages in the Channel of Bones the water is
over 2 500 metres deep and it goes an incredible purple colour
"With about 35km gone I realised that I needed to pin my ears back to
close the gap, and caught the other two girls with about 10km to go, even
though we were all racing on different lines.
"I felt good and confident. I felt I knew I hadn't spent myself yet. We
hit China Wall and took a very conservative line while the other two girls
bombed straight down the wave at China Wall.
"I think my conservative line paid off before I was in deeper water and we
had bumps and waves to ride through the last 3km. Every time I
looked over my shoulder I couldn't see them.
"My husband Paul was there the whole time, almost racing with me, which
makes it so special as a couple. It just feels surreal," she added.
McGregor (Fenn/Euro Steel) was locked in a fierce duel with Australian star
Corey Hill, which he lost by thirty seconds, with fellow South African Jasper
Mocké (Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks) taking the last spot on the podium.
Oscar Chalupsky finished ninth overall, just seven weeks after major shoulder
SUMMARY OF RESULTS - MAUI JIM MOLOKAI CHALLENGE
1. Corey Hill (Aus) 3:15:09
2. Hank McGregor (RSA) 3:15:39
3. Jasper Mocké (RSA) 3:17:03
1. Hayley Nixon (RSA) 3:52:02
2. Rachel Clarke (NZL) 3:53:03
3. Jordan Mercer (AUS) 3:55:37
More information can be found at www.canoesa.org.za