Newcomers claim stop spots. Australians dominate. Japan reaches the podium for the first time. Pro Surfer Luke Shepardson completes the crossing solo. Hawaii lifeguard continues streak of 24 consecutive races.
HONOLULU, HI (July 30, 2023) – The 24th Moloka’i-2-O’ahu Paddleboard World Championships (M2O), presented by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority returned to racing today after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Racers were greeted with favorable conditions with trade winds blowing at 20 knots and wind swell at six feet.
A sold out, international field of 250 men and women headed out across the Ka’iwi Channel toward the south shore of O’ahu, navigating changing tides and currents to plot their fastest route in the 32-mile downwind challenge.
Today’s champions completed the course in the solo disciplines of prone paddleboard, stand-up paddleboard (SUP), SUP foil and wing.
Results are available at Molokai2Oahu.com. Phots and VRN available upon request.
Solo Prone Paddleboard Race
Australian athletes continued their longtime dominance in the prone paddleboard discipline with new faces making their mark on the world’s toughest paddleboard race.
This year, Charlie Verco from North Bondi, New South Wales won the unlimited category in 4 hours, 53 minutes, 26 seconds. This was the 22-year-old’s first attempt at crossing the Ka’iwi Channel. Verco was followed by countryman Jackson Maynard, 31, who came in about 14 minutes later to finish second (5:07:18).
Former M2O champion Stewart McLachlan experienced mechanical problems with his board, forcing him to ditch his longer, sleeker unlimited board for his shorter stock board. While the 35-year-old Australian was chasing down Maynard in the closing miles, the two rounded China Walls and later crossed the finish line in Maunalua Bay just three minutes apart. McLachlan finished third overall behind Maynard (5:10:31).
Hayden Copping, 24, from Port Macquarie, New South Wales was the winner of the stock category (5:41:16). Copping finished 10 minutes ahead of New Zealand’s Sam Shergold, 29, who finished second in 5:52:17. Callum Sutton, 22, from Australia was less than two minutes behind Shergold in his first experience crossing the Ka’iwi Channel, finishing in third (5:54:01).
Professional surfer Luke Shepardson, 28, from Haleiwa, HI completed his first experience crossing the Channel of Bones in 7:13:25.
At 53, Hawaii’s Matt Sack kept his streak of 24 consecutive races going, finishing in 7:06:55
No women competed in the unlimited paddleboard race, but Katrina Madill, 32, from New Zealand claimed first place in the stock race. This was Madill’s first attempt at M2O, finishing in 6:20:36. Yurika Horibe, 31, from Japan posted a surprise finish in her first race at M2O to finish second (7:02:23) ahead of three-time Catalina Classic champion Liz Hunter, 36, from Imperial Beach, CA who finished third in 7:07:39.
- Charlie Verco, 22, AUS, 4:53:26
- Jackson Maynard, 31, AUS, 5:07:18
- Steward McLachlan, 35, AUS, 5:41:16
- Hayden Copping, 24, AUS, 5:41:16
- Sam Shergold, 29, AUS, 5:52:17
- Callum Sutton, 22, AUS, 5:54:01
- Katrina Madill, 32, NZL, 6:20:36
- Yurika Horibe, 31, JPN, 7:02:23
- Liz Hunter, 36, USA, 7:07:39
Solo Stand Up Paddleboard Race
Japan claimed a top spot at M2O for the first time in race history. Yusuke Hyogo, 36, won the men’s unlimited SUP race in 4:45:03. Hyogo was followed by 26-year-old Mo Freitas from Haleiwa, HI who finished second in 5:12:03. Kosuke Matsuyama, 43, from Japan finished in third place (5:51:40).
- Yusuke Hyogo, 36, JPN, 4:45:03
- Mo Freitas, 26, Haleiwa, HI, 5:12:03
- Kosuke Matsuyama, 43, JPN, 5:51:40
Solo SUP Foil
The men’s SUP Foil race was fast and closely contested. Australia’s James Casey, 31 from Narrabeen, New South Wales won today’s SUP Foil race in 2:19:02. Casey is no stranger to M2O, having competed in SUP at past events. This year, he decided to crossover, navigating the fastest line ahead of Oskar Johansson, 31, from Australia (2:21:05). Edoardo Tanas, 21, from Honolulu, HI finished in third place, just two minutes behind Johansson in time of 2:23:04.
In the women’s SUP foil race, Olivia Pana, 32, from France beat the former M2O champion from Maui, Annie Reikert, 22, by five minutes. The race was close between the two racers over the entire distance. In the end, Pana had the better line, finishing in 2:57:01 as Reickert crossed the line in 3:02:00. M2O veteran and SUP champion Andrea Moller, 43, from Maui crossed over to the foil discipline and finished third in 3:21:26.
- James Casey, 31 Narrabeen, New South Wales, AUS 2:19:02
- Oskar Johansson, 31, AUS, 2:21:05
- Edoardo Tanas , 21, Honolulu, HI, 2:23:04
- Olivia Piana, 32, FRA, 2:57:01
- Annie Reickert, 22, Maui, HI, 3:02:00
- Andrea Moller, 43, Maui, HI, 3:21:26
The men’s wing foil race was won by 19-year-old Finn Spencer from Maui. The American figuratively flew across the Ka’iwi Channel in 1:31:29. New Zealand racer Aidan Nicholas, 24, finished six minutes behind Spencer in 1:37:33. At just 14 years of age, another Maui athlete, Bobo Gallagher rounded out the podium position in third place, completing the crossing in 1:43:08.
Nani Dalene Nekoba, 46 from Kailua, HI won the women’s race in a time of 2:10:02. Her time placed her ninth overall among both the men’s and women’s races. Anna Kalabukhova, 21 from Honolulu, HI finished in second place (3:51:21).
- Finn Spencer, 19, Paia, HI, 1:31:29
- Aidan Nicholas, 24, Aukland, NZL, 1:37:33
- Bobo Gallagher, 14, Lahaina, HI, 1:43:08
- Nani Dalene Nekoba, 46, Kailua, HI, 2:10:02
- Anna Kalabukhova, 21, Honolulu, HI, 3:15:21
About the Moloka’i-2-O’ahu Paddleboard World Championships
Founded in 1997, M2O has grown from a grassroots challenge for the legendary lifeguards of O’ahu to the premiere event in the sport of paddleboarding. The race annually crowns world champions in the two disciplines of traditional (prone) and stand-up (SUP) paddleboarding. In 2018, a hydrofoil division was added to welcome the evolution of technology in the SUP. Connecting the islands of Moloka’i and O’ahu, the 32-mile race crosses the Ka’iwi Channel, also known as the Moloka’i Channel and Channel of Bones. Men and women from more than 20 countries will face strong currents as they navigate the fastest downwind-route over one of the most beautiful and powerful channels in the world. Athletes rid mid-channel waves that can crest more than 12 feet and carry paddlers hundreds of meters. M2O starts in Kepuhi Bay on the northwest shore of Moloka’i and finishes in Maunalua Bay on the southeast shore of O’ahu. The annual race is a deeply personal experience, challenging every paddlers’ physical and mental endurance. Every finisher experiences an individual championship.
M2O is proudly presented by the Hawai’i Tourism Authority with additional support from Spartan, Duke’s Waikiki, Kona Brewing Company, Futures Fins, Pauwela Beverage Company, dryrobe®, Talis Crew, Surftech, Bark Paddleboards, Ocean Paddler, DotVison, and Fin Film Company.