Connor Baxter Outlasts Travis Grant and Matt Nottage to Win Seventh Straight Maui2Molokai; Devin Blish Claims Women’s Title

 
Connor Baxter

Connor Baxter on his way to a record seventh-straight Maui2Molokai title (photo: 808photo.me)

Connor Baxter has won a record seventh-straight Maui 2 Molokai (M2M) title, narrowly edging out Travis Grant in one of the fastest ever channel crossings, and setting up a mouth-watering clash at the major Molokai 2 Oahu (M2O) showdown later this month.

Connor finished in a time of 2:58:51, less than two minutes ahead of Travis, with conditions firing in the middle part of the course but stormy weather preventing it from being an all-time downwinder.

Matt Nottage was extremely impressive in third, and even though he finished one place lower than his runner-up effort last year, this was an even more impressive result given the greatly increased level of competition this year.

Brazilian Vinni Martins, one of the heroes of last year’s M2O, looks to be in great form after finishing fourth, crossing just seconds ahead of another rising star, Australian James “Jimmy” Casey. Finishing sixth was yet another Aussie, the supremely under-rated ocean paddler Dave Kissane.

The Aussies were out in force this year, claiming six of the top ten spots after Kelly Margetts and Toby Cracknell also showed great form.

Maui boy Josh Riccio and Japan’s #1 Kenny Kaneko also went top 10, however it was an unlucky day for Mo Freitas, who was in contention for one of the top spots before snapping his paddle and being left stranded mid-channel. Fortunately one of the escort boats eventually passed by with a spare paddle, allowing him to safely finish the race.

In the women’s, dark horse Devin Blish charged across the channel to claim a strong victory, finishing a few minutes ahead of Terrene Black, while world number one Annabel Anderson was close behind in third. Annabel’s effort was particularly impressive considering she was paddling in the 14′ stock class against the unlimiteds of the other top athletes.

But it was definitely Devin’s day. This is the Maui local’s second M2M title in three years, and once again highlights how incredibly under-rated she is in the ocean paddling world, and how hard she is to catch when the bumps are running.

Devin Blish

Devin Blish en route to her second M2M title (photo: 808photo.me)

Although conditions weren’t all-time there were still plenty of great glides on offer. Nottage described it as “not epic but still pumping for most of it” while Jimmy said “that middle 15km was as much fun as I’ve had in a race in a while.”

Indeed, the finishing times suggested this was a particularly fast crossing — Connor went sub-three hours for only the second time ever, and was only a few minutes shy of the 2:55:46 course record he set in 2012.

In what is a true testament to the freakish abilities of the world number one, Connor’s victory extends the longest winning streak in the men’s sport, and equals Andrea Moller’s seven OluKai titles as the greatest streak in the entire sport. Not only has Connor never lost this race but nobody else has ever won it — the Maui local took out the inaugural event as a scrawny teenager way back in 2010, and he’s triumphed every 12 months ever since.

But while it was Connor’s day, it was an equally impressive effort from Travis Grant, with the world number two getting closer than anyone ever has to stealing the crown. Trav’s narrow deficit of 1 minute 42 seconds eclipses the 2 minute 26 second gap between Connor and runner-up Dave Kalama in 2012. For context, the last time Trav did this race, back in 2014, he finished 10 minutes behind Connor.

The results setup a mouth-watering clash at the 5-star Molokai 2 Oahu race in two weeks’ time, where Connor and Travis will start favourites, and where guys like Nottage, Vinni and Jimmy will all be in contention as well. The quintet is likely to be joined by Kai Lenny, who sat out today’s race but who sees M2O as the only feather missing from his cap.

Between them, Travis and Connor have won the five previous M2O battles, with Trav claiming 2013 and 2015, and Connor saluting in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Travis Grant

Travis Grant is showing great form ahead of his Molokai 2 Oahu defense later this month (photo: 808photo.me)

It’ll be the same on the women’s side, where Devin will now start as one of the favourites, Terrene is looking to reclaim her title from 2013, Annabel is looking to cause an upset from the stock class, and everyone will be trying to chase down two-time defending champ Sonni Honscheid, who was missing from today’s race.

We’ll have more photos, videos and athlete reactions coming soon, but in the meantime here are the full results. There are more photos up on 808photo.me’s Facebook.

Maui 2 Molokai was rated as a 3-star event on the SUP Racer World Rankings this year, meaning it scored a guaranteed minimum of 30% on the Race Index (it exceeded its minimum on the men’s side to score 33%).

2016 Maui2Molokai – Men’s Race Results

Course: 26 miles (41.84kms)
Conditions: Moderate
Race Index: 33%
SUP Racer World Rankings will be updated Monday morning

#
Athlete
Time
Board
Nation
Points
1Connor Baxter2:58:51UnlimitedHawaii33.00
2Travis Grant3:00:33UnlimitedAustralia24.75
3Matt Nottage3:04:03UnlimitedAustralia19.80
4Vinnicius Martins3:13:55UnlimitedBrazil16.50
5James Casey3:14:09UnlimitedAustralia14.03
6Dave Kissane3:17:04UnlimitedAustralia11.55
7Josh Riccio3:18:27UnlimitedHawaii9.90
8Kelly Margetts3:18:57UnlimitedAustralia8.25
9Kenny Kaneko3:20:21UnlimitedJapan7.43
10Toby Cracknell3:20:41UnlimitedAustralia6.60
11Jeremy Riggs3:22:23UnlimitedHawaii5.94
12Livio Menelau3:24:10UnlimitedBrazil5.28
13Tomoyasu Murabayashi3:25:12UnlimitedJapan4.95
14Ryan Murphy3:27:55UnlimitedHawaii4.62
15Bullet Obra3:29:0414'Hawaii4.29
16Ethan Koopmans3:29:3714'South Africa3.96
17Luiz Guida3:35:57UnlimitedBrazil3.63
18Romuald Mamadou3:37:1214'Guadeloupe3.30
19Phil Gregory3:39:17UnlimitedAustralia2.97
20Mo Freitas3:41:45UnlimitedHawaii2.64
21Kawika Kinimaka3:42:44UnlimitedHawaii2.48
22Sam Parker3:43:45UnlimitedAustralia2.31
23Ryan Funk3:44:2214'Hawaii2.15
24Sam Thom3:47:31UnlimitedNew Zealand1.98
25Mark Huxley3:47:54UnlimitedAustralia1.82
26Kosuke Matsuyama3:53:18UnlimitedJapan1.72
27Americo Pinheiro Junior3:56:42UnlimitedBrazil1.62
28Bojan Bernard3:58:30UnlimitedSlovenia1.52
29Kieran O'Riordan4:04:21UnlimitedAustralia1.42
30Fabrice Chaminade4:06:42UnlimitedNew Caledonia1.32
31Harry Lee4:07:5614'Australia1.25
32Alexandre Bicrel4:09:17UnlimitedFrance1.19
33Tim Wyers4:11:15UnlimitedAustralia1.12
34Nathan Decker4:13:22Unlimited?1.06
35Yasuke Fukui4:16:1614'Japan0.99
36Evan Green4:17:21UnlimitedAustralia0.92
37Warwick Gray4:19:3314'New Zealand0.86
38John Walsh4:20:0114'USA0.79
39Jade Howson Team (+ Ryder and Jack)4:20:2714' teamUSA0.00
40Naoki Marutani4:25:22UnlimitedJapan0.66
41Leonardo Lorang4:29:45UnlimitedBrazil0.63
42John Alexiou4:32:49UnlimitedUSA0.59
43Jeffrey Spencer4:33:24UnlimitedUSA0.56
44Jay Gomez4:34:0214'?0.53
45Justin Ormonde4:37:35UnlimitedAustralia0.50
46Jeffrey Oltman4:45:55Unlimited?0.46
47Chris Ting4:47:25UnlimitedAustralia0.43
48Alec Stewart4:48:0614'Canada0.40
49Derek Sproul4:49:2914'USA0.36
50Zoltan Bazso4:55:20Unlimited?0.33
51Grant Heinz5:02:01Unlimited?0.00
52Renato Costa5:07:4014'Brazil0.00
53John Fuglsang5:11:57UnlimitedAustralia0.00
54Nigel Milnesn/aUnlimitedAustralia0.00
55Paul Matthewsn/aUnlimitedAustralia0.00
56Laurent Wahon/aUnlimitedNew Caledonia0.00

 

2016 Maui2Molokai – Women’s Race Results

Course: 26 miles (41.84kms)
Conditions: Moderate
Race Index 30%
SUP Racer World Rankings will be updated Monday morning

#
Athlete
Time
Board
Nation
Points
1Devin Blish3:42:52UnlimitedHawaii30.00
2Terrene Black3:44:52UnlimitedAustralia22.50
3Annabel Anderson3:45:0114'New Zealand18.00
4Jenn Lee 2-person Team3:56:5314'Hawaii0.00
5Kali'a Alexiou4:07:5814'USA15.00
6Lena Ribeiro4:18:12UnlimitedBrazil12.75
7Annie Reickert4:38:2314'Hawaii10.50
8Alison Wood4:56:16UnlimitedCanada9.00
9Jaecey Suda4:56:4814'Hawaii7.50
10Vanessa Smith4:56:5214'Australia6.75
11Jenn Biestmann/aUnlimitedUSA6.00