Connor Baxter Outlasts Travis Grant To Win Molokai In Record Time; Sonni Hönscheid Triumphs Over Jenny Kalmbach

 
We’ve just finished an incredible Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships, where Connor Baxter has narrowly reclaimed the crown from defending champ Travis Grant in what was an amazing race…

After a tight contest early – where the top five favourites (Connor, Scott, Kai, Dave and Travis) were all within shouting distance – it became a two-man duel in the last five or six miles before Connor eventually broke free to win in record time. Coming home strong was Scott Gamble for 3rd, with Kai Lenny relinquishing an early lead to settle for 4th. Travis Baptiste put in an absolutely extraordinary effort to finish 5th overall on his 14 footer, just seconds behind Kai and half a minute in front of Dave Kalama. Baptiste’s effort was even more impressive considering he was in hospital two days ago…

>>> Relive our Molokai 2 Oahu Live Blog to see how it all went down…

On the women’s side it was a superhuman display from Germany’s Sonni Hönscheid, who led for most of the crossing to defeat the determined Jenny Kalmbach. The unheralded Penelope Strickland of New Zealand rounded out the podium, crossing ahead of another “unknown” in Brazil’s Barbara Nunes. The 2012 champ Talia Gangini-Decoite was leading early but ran out of gas and crossed in 5th. It was a similar story for 2x Molokai champ Andrea Moller, who looked good in the first half but lost a lot of ground on the final approach to Oahu.

Sounds like the first few hours offered really good conditions but the last couple were a bit of a nightmare for many paddlers. It must have been a rollercoaster ride out there, with epic bumps in some sections and then long sections of either flat or messy water; it was especially rough the closer competitors got to China Walls.

Matt Becker described it as brutal while Brian Szymanski said it was his funnest crossing ever, which gives you an idea of just how random the conditions were.

Jenny Kalmbach told me she was almost in tears and had to fight the urge to retire when, in the first few miles of the race, the handle on her paddle came loose and she took half an hour to find her captain for a replacement paddle. Although Jenny could still paddle during that time, her stroke was weakened and she dropped right back to 6th place.

There was major heartbreak for Vinnicius Martins, who broke his rudder 8 miles from the finish when he was sitting in about 5th place and looking very strong. The always-happy Brazilian was still all smiles at the finish line though – such is the atmosphere of this race that it’s hard not be stoked. If there’s a “Spirit of Molokai” award I nominate Vini.

 

But the day belonged to Connor Baxter and Sonni Hönscheid. Connor overcame everything that was thrown at him by an extremely talented group of rivals, living up to his pre-race favouritism and beating his own Molokai record in the process.

Meanwhile Sonni surprised quite a few with her win (though not everybody ;-) and has now surely established herself as the world’s best all round paddler. The German, who spends most of the year in the Canary Islands, can hold her own in any conditions: Sonni is a machine in the flat, very quick in and out through the waves, absolutely rips on a surfboard and is now clearly a master of the open ocean bumps.

 

Travis Grant went *SO* close but he just couldn’t overcome Connor. The two went back and forth over the final quarter of the crossing before Connor pulled away on the approach to China Walls. Trav told me that with 3 miles left he had to make a tough choice: He was struggling for thirst but knew a water change would cost him valuable time at a critical stage of the race. In the end he rolled the dice, stopped for a moment and changed to a new water pack. That gave Connor a lead and the youngster never looked back.

In Travis’ words; “Connor has a whole ‘nother gear to the rest of us.”

Later I spoke to Connor and he suggested that if Travis hadn’t pushed him so hard in the final stretch, he may not have broken the record.

Travis also managed to make a mockery of my predictions though. And I couldn’t be happier. This guy isn’t just an incredible paddler, he’s one of the most down to earth and genuine people you’ll ever meet.

 

Connor is now a three-time Molokai champion and absolute superstar of the sport. He’s also the only person to hold a trio of Molokai SUP titles. Jenny Kalmbach has three trophies now as well, however unfortunately they are three 2nd place finishes (though she was champ in 2009). Scott Gamble showed once again that he’s an exceptionally under-rated paddler, motoring home in the final few miles to overtake, then significantly gap, Kai Lenny.

I spoke to Kai at the finish and he described how good he felt in the first half, where he was leading Connor and the rest of the guys with a blistering pace. Kai was feeling confident until about the 24 mile mark, where Connor and Travis took off on their own and Kai said that it “felt like I hit a wall.” In the end perhaps the young gun’s crazy travel schedule caught up with him. That and the amazing pace he was setting early on.

 

Dave Kalama looked very strong for much of the race but eventually finished for 6th overall. The guy is pushing 50 years old but still showed he’s a force to be reckoned with. That might have been Dave’s last serious attempt at a Molokai crossing. I hope not.

Vinnicius was punching above his weight until he had to retire, Livio Menelau found the right bumps for a very respectable 7th place, while Kaeo Abbey had another good race inside the top 10. Over in the two-man relay, the dream team of Zane Schweitzer and Titouan Puyo had to settle for second after the uber-experienced Aaron Napoleon and his son Riggs crossed 5 minutes ahead of them. Zane and Titou still managed a top 10 overall performance though, which is mighty impressive considering the teams had to use 14 footers (not to mention the time lost during changeovers).

The heroics out there in the channel were too numerous to count: Young rising star Manca Notar from Slovenia partnered with Michi Schweiger to win the mixed team event, while Floridian Bailey Rosen put in a very spirited performance in the solo division. Andrew Logreco breezed home in his usual effortless style, while Armie Armstrong lived up to his pre-event darkhorse status with a top 10 finish.

 

And then, just moments ago, coming home in 9 hours and 10 minutes was paraplegic prone paddler Mark Matheson. He got one of the biggest cheers of all.

Despite the record time for Connor (and technically Travis broke the old record by 4 minutes as well), it was actually a really tough race out there.

There are so many other incredible stories emerging from the channel, so we’ll have plenty of reflections, insights and more epic photos more from this crazy race in the next day or two. For now we’re heading to the Outrigger Canoe Club for the after party and a chance to relive the action with this amazing group of paddlers.

## Check out the official Molokai2Oahu.com LIVE feed for more photos
## Skip straight to the official photo stream on Facebook
## Relive our Molokai 2 Oahu Live Blog to see how it all went down

 

2014 Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships RESULTS

Here are the top finishers. Scroll down for FULL RESULTS…

SOLO LINE HONOURS
1st: Connor Baxter (4:08:08) * new record time
2nd: Travis Grant (4:09:15) * beat the old record
3rd: Scott Gamble (4:19:57)
4th: Kai Lenny (4:23:35)
5th: Travis Baptiste (4:23:54) * 1st stock
6th: Dave Kalama (4:24:44)
7th: Livio Menelau (4:31:15)
8th: Kaeo Abbey (4:35:26)
9th: Armie Armstrong (4:41:06)
10th: Andrew Logreco (4:50:50) * 2nd stock

WOMEN’S SOLO
1st: Sonni Hönscheid (5:12:38)
2nd: Jenny Kalmbach (5:15:40)
3rd: Penelope Strickland (5:27:12)
4th: Barbara Nunes (5:36:03)
5th: Talia Gangini Decoite (5:37:43)
6th: Andrea Moller (5:44:30)
7th: Bailey Rosen (5:58:37)
8th: Kelsa Gabehart (6:04:12)
9th: Jennifer Lee (6:11:54)
10th: Lani Gomes (6:43:03)

MEN’S STOCK
1st: Travis Baptiste (4:23:54)
2nd: Andrew Logreco (4:50:50)
3rd: Josh Riccio (4:59:28)
4th: Matt Becker (5:14:30)
5th: Yoshiaki Nagamatsu (5:27:42)

TWO MAN RELAY
1st: Riggs Napoleon / Aaron Napoleon (4:29:33) (* 7th overall)
2nd: Zane Schweitzer / Titouan Puyo (4:35:47) (*10th overall)

MIXED RELAY
1st: Manca Notar / Michi Schweiger (5:06:57)
2nd: Lina Augaitis / Art Aquino (5:24:52)

OVERALL RESULTS

Click “Class” or “Division” to sort the results
Click “Time” to reset

#
Name
Time
Class
#
Division
#
From...
1Connor Baxter4:08:08Men's Unlimited1UNL M-OVERALL1Hawaii
2Travis Grant4:09:15Men's Unlimited2UNL M-OVERALL2Australia
3Scott Gamble4:19:57Men's Unlimited3UNL M-OVERALL3Hawaii
4Kai Lenny4:23:35Men's Unlimited4UNL M01-291Hawaii
5Travis Baptiste4:23:54Men's Stock1STK M-OVERALL1Hawaii
6Dave Kalama4:24:44Men's Unlimited5UNL M40-491Hawaii
7Napoleon/Napoleon4:29:33Team 2x Man1STK 2x Team M01-791Hawaii
8Livio Menelau4:31:15Men's Unlimited6UNL M30-391Hawaii
9Kaeo Abbey4:35:26Men's Unlimited7UNL M01-292Hawaii
10Schweitzer/Puyo4:35:47Team 2x Man2STK 2x Team M01-792Hawaii
11Armie Armstrong4:41:06Men's Unlimited8UNL M40-492New Zealand
12Andrew Logreco4:50:50Men's Stock2STK M-OVERALL2Hawaii
13Mo Freitas4:54:59Men's Unlimited9UNL M01-293Hawaii
14Jerry Bess4:55:45Men's Unlimited10UNL M40-493Hawaii
15Josh Riccio4:59:28Men's Stock3STK M-OVERALL3Hawaii
16Jones/Eggers/Eggers4:59:35Team 3x Male1Team 3 Male1Hawaii
17Frogier/Grimaud4:59:58Team 2x Man3STK 2x Team M80-991Tahiti
18Patterson/Maximus5:00:40Team 2x Man4STK 2x Team M80-992Hawaii
19Jimmy Spithill5:01:44Men's Unlimited11UNL M30-392Australia
20Tomoyasu Murabayashi5:02:04Men's Unlimited12UNL M30-393Japan
21Moore/Francis5:02:14Team 2x Man5STK 2x Team M80-993Australia
22Gaul/Carroll5:02:53Team 2x Man6STK 2x Team M80-994Australia
23Takuji Araki5:04:00Men's Unlimited13UNL M40-494Japan
24Gregory/Raaphorst/Stifford5:04:51Team 3x Male2Team 3 Male2Hawaii
25Schweiger/Notar5:06:57Team 2x Mixed1STK 2x Team Mixed1Hawaii
26Van Gieson/Keaulana/Lee5:08:54Team 3x Mixed1Team 3 Mixed1Hawaii
27Franck Muller5:10:36Men's Unlimited14UNL M40-495New Caledoni
28Vierna/Carvalho/Miranda5:12:29Team 3x Male3Team 3 Male3Hawaii
29Sonni Hönscheid5:12:38Women's Unlimited1Women's Unlimited1Germany
30Matt Becker5:14:30Men's Stock4STK M01-291California
31Jenny Kalmbach5:15:40Women's Unlimited2Women's Unlimited2Hawaii
32Szymanski-Friedman5:16:02Team 3x Male4Team 3 Male4California
33Lui-Kwan/Lui-Kwan/Lui-Kwan5:17:23Team 3x Male5Team 3 Male5Hawaii
34Gustavo Oliveira5:17:26Men's Unlimited15UNL M30-394Brazil
35Christian Bradley5:17:59Men's Unlimited16UNL M01-294Hawaii
36Pugh/Krtolica/Walsh5:22:49Team 3x Male6Team 3 Male6California
37Heath Meldrum5:23:42Men's Unlimited17UNL M30-395Australia
38Augaitis/Aquino5:24:52Team 2x Mixed2STK 2x Team Mixed2Canada
39Jeppesen/Oliveira/Tillmann5:25:31Team 3x Mixed2Team 3 Mixed2Hawaii
40Ingo Rademacher5:25:37Men's Unlimited18UNL M40-496Hawaii
41Chutorianscy/Junior5:26:29Team 2x Man7STK 2x Team M01-793Brazil
42Jimmy Fitt5:26:33Men's Unlimited19UNL M30-396Hawaii
43Penelope Strickland5:27:12Women's Unlimited3Women's Unlimited3New Zealand
44Yoshiaki Nagamatsu5:27:42Men's Stock5STK M30-391Japan
45Belar Diaz5:28:31Men's Stock6STK M30-392Spain
46Dodd/Anido5:28:32Team 2x Man8STK 2x Team M80-995Australia
47Roberto Lopes5:29:04Men's Unlimited20UNL M40-497Brazil
48Andrew Ching5:29:20Men's Stock7STK M30-393Hawaii
49Willis/Aea5:29:54Team 2x Man9STK 2x Team M100+1Hawaii
50D'Ascoli/Ho'opili/Pao5:30:34Team 3x Male7Team 3 Male7Hawaii
51Alex Matero5:33:45Men's Unlimited21UNL M40-498Brazil
52Braly Joy5:35:17Men's Unlimited22UNL M40-499California
53Jeff Chang5:35:32Men's Stock8STK M50-991Hawaii
54Araujo/Pae/Pai5:35:54Team 3x Male8Team 3 Male8Brazil
55Barbara Nunes5:36:03Women's Unlimited4Women's Unlimited4Brazil
56William Rich5:37:08Men's Unlimited23UNL M30-397Massachusett
57Kousuke Matsuyama5:37:12Men's Unlimited24UNL M30-398Japan
58Machado/Cachuela/Masey5:37:28Team 3x Male9Team 3 Male9Hawaii
59Talia Gangini Decoite5:37:43Women's Unlimited5Women's Unlimited5Hawaii
60Lopez/Wible5:37:48Team 2x Man10STK 2x Team M80-996Puerto Rico
61Scott McPhail5:38:09Men's Unlimited25UNL M50-991Hawaii
62Leion/Dies/Gates5:38:18Team 3x Male10Team 3 Male10Hawaii
63Ed Wheeler5:39:25Men's Unlimited26UNL M40-4910Hawaii
64Meron Akman5:41:14Men's Stock9STK M30-394Israel
65Peter Meyer5:41:33Men's Stock10STK M30-395Australia
66Jason Stephens5:42:09Men's Stock11STK M40-491Hawaii
67Titcomb/Takabashi/Kam5:42:29Team 3x Male11Team 3 Male11Hawaii
68Andrea Moller5:44:30Women's Unlimited6Women's Unlimited6Brazil
69Tim Wyers5:45:59Men's Unlimited27UNL M30-399Australia
70Lux/Sempere/Tranier5:47:04Team 3x Male12Team 3 Male12New Caledonia
71Valongo/Moura5:51:13Team 2x Man11STK 2x Team M01-794Brazil
72Klemawesch/Klemawesch5:53:05Team 2x Man12STK 2x Team M100+2Florida
73SMith/Smith/Viveiros5:53:20Team 3x Male13Team 3 Male13Hawaii
74Antonio Chaer Filho5:57:19Men's Stock12STK M30-396Brazil
75Bailey Rosen5:58:37Women's Unlimited7Women's Unlimited7Florida
76Tam Sing/Demarco5:58:39Team 2x Man13STK 2x Team M80-997Hawaii
77Poynter/Schweitzer/Sjuggerud5:59:16Team 3x Male14Team 3 Male14California
78Kessel/Schmuckle5:59:23Team 2x Man14STK 2x Team M80-998California
79Schubert/Lii6:02:48Team 2x Mixed3STK 2x Team Mixed3Switzerland
80Shamlou/Drake6:04:06Team 2x Man15STK 2x Team M80-999California
81Joel Comer6:04:08Men's Unlimited28UNL M50-992California
82Kelsa Gabehart6:04:12Women's Unlimited8Women's Unlimited8Colorado
83Thor Emory6:04:47Men's Unlimited29UNL M30-3910Maine
84Diggins/Del Monico6:05:16Team 2x Man16STK 2x Team M80-9910California
85Gomez/Alexiou6:06:29Team 2x Man17STK 2x Team M80-9911California
86Tsumura Chikara6:11:48Men's Unlimited30UNL M50-993Japan
87Jennifer Lee6:11:54Women's Unlimited9Women's Unlimited9Hawaii
88Faria/Perin6:16:13Team 2x Mixed4STK 2x Team Mixed4Brazil
89Kevin Horgan6:19:00Men's Unlimited31UNL M40-4911Hawaii
90Vince Longo6:22:15Men's Stock13STK M40-492California
91Bill Smith6:23:21Men's Stock14STK M50-992South Carolina
92Trent/Fink/Sammis6:26:40Team 3x Male15Team 3 Male15Virginia
93McIlvain/Crawford6:26:52Team 2x Man18STK 2x Team M100+3California
94Terry Stevens6:29:42Men's Stock15STK M40-493Virgin Islan
95Neal Drinkward6:30:00Men's Unlimited32UNL M50-994California
96Brad Feldman6:35:22Men's Unlimited33UNL M50-995Hawaii
97Jonathan Jones6:37:52Men's Stock16STK M40-494California
98Noa/Correa/Correa-Pei6:41:20Team 3x Mixed3Team 3 Mixed3Hawaii
99Nevvar Hickmet6:41:54Men's Unlimited34UNL M40-4912England
100Krohne/Kenji/Sullivan6:42:25Team 3x Male16Team 3 Male16Guadeloupe
101Lani Gomes6:43:03Women's Unlimited10Women's Unlimited10Hawaii
102Fred Andersen6:49:02Men's Unlimited35UNL M50-996California
103Dana Hart6:50:04Men's Stock17STK M40-495Florida
104Welch/Darbyshire/Marcotte6:51:02Team 3x Male17Team 3 Male17California
105Cooney/Ross6:54:13Team 2x Mixed5STK 2x Team Mixed5Hawaii
106Steve Dunlop6:58:14Men's Unlimited36UNL M40-4913New Zealand
107O'Neile/Brown/Shimooka7:00:29Team 3x Male18Team 3 Male18Australia
108Bob Arnot8:06:35Men's Unlimited37UNL M50-997Vermont

RAW RESULTS: http://live.pseresults.com/e/61#/results


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