Beginnings: How the world’s most challenging paddleboard race began
In 1996 the sport of paddleboarding was making a comeback. Once the domain of only the most hardcore of watermen and big wave riders in the 50’s and 60’s, the sport found a new set of acolytes on the North Shore of Oahu and in Honolulu at the Outrigger Canoe Club.
At that time Hawaii’s top paddler was Dawson Jones. After completing the 32-mile Catalina Classic, from Manhattan Beach to the island of Catalina, Jones returned to Hawaii inspired to establish a race across the Ka’iwi Channel. He called on his trusted training partners, Garrett Macamara and Mike Takahashi, to discuss the possibility of starting a paddleboard race between the islands of Molokai and Oahu. The men agreed Jones had hit on a great idea, and a year later, Molokai-2-Oahu was born.
Takahashi and Macamara started Epic Sports Productions. Takahashi planted the seed funds himself, but they both realized that entry fees would not cover the event’s operations costs. The race needed sponsorship.
With an initial sponsorship from a division of Quicksilver called “Q,” which was trying to establish a brand for watermen, the first Molokai to Oahu race was successfully completed in July 1997. Takahashi became race director, as he is today, Jones organized the safety boats, and Macamara managed the finish line.
The race was an instant hit with the local media. All of the contestants made history as the first prone paddleboarders to cross the Ka’iwi Channel in an organized competitive race, and surfers had found a new challenge to fill annual void created by flat summer surf.
Today the race sells out with both prone and stand up paddleboarders (SUP) from around the world who compete in solo and team divisions.