Every year just before the Molokai Solo, paddlers everywhere weigh in on who’s going to win, who’s upped their training, and who might surprise. Rather than have a bunch of random comments from the crowd I thought it would be interesting to hear from some of the guys who are are likely to be in the lead pack.

I sent several of the top guys the same four questions:

  • This is looking like one of the most exciting solos in years with several returning champions, some fast young paddlers, and a group of Tahitians coming. Who are the contenders, and who might surprise everyone?
  • How well prepared are you for the race?
  • What do you know about the Tahitian paddlers who will be competing?
  • Any other thoughts you want to share?

Some have already weighed in, and I’m trying to get a few more replies. The unedited replies from each of them are below. I’ll update when more respond.

Jimmy Austin

I think the contenders are the same as in the past. Danny Ching, Kai Bartlet, Kua Nolan, Daniel Chun, Travis Grant, as well as the Tahitian contingent of which combined have won several Super Aito and Hawaiki Nui races. Some up and comers that have gotten really good this year are Kaihe Chong and Will Reichenstein.
Looking at the forecasted weather I would say the Tahitians would have a huge advantage if it remains flat for the race. On the other end of the spectrum if it’s rough I would say the Hawaii boys odds would be better.

As far as my preparation. I have done a lot of homework and put in a huge amount of hours on the boat. But with two kids, full time work, and family ranch work as well as selling canoes for Johnny it’s been a little exhausting. I’m just hoping for a nice following sea and hopefully things will come together.

Tahitian contingent – Rete Ebb, Taaroa Dubois, Steve Teihoitaa, and Manutea Owen. They will be really hard to beat and this should be one hell of a race.

My biggest concern of this race is using a V-1 in an OC-1 race. We can’t do they’re races on OC-1 so why don’t they compete up and up on our boats?? Secondly it’s no secret that the Tahitians ride escort boat wake in Tahiti.  It’s seen all over their videos. We view that as cheating when it’s your own escort providing the wake or someone supporting you. Will these issues be addressed by the race director?? I doubt it.

Pray for wind.

Update from Jimmy Austin: Just FYI all the top Tahitians r racing first gen pueos.

Kaihe Chong

  • How well prepared are you for the race?

kaihe cut I’m pretty well prepared. This season has had some unpredictable weather, so the race conditions should be no different than any other race from this season. It’s always good to be pushing with Jimmy Austin and the other guys every morning, and every weekend, so as far as training goes I think we’re on it. The only thing that’s hard to prepare for is the mental game, being able to push through that 3rd hour, but we’ve done a few really long runs this season, so I am more prepared this year then the last.

  • What do you know about the Tahitian paddlers who will be competing.

The only thing I know about the Tahitian paddlers is that they have all won a major V-1 race in Tahiti at some point. Some of them have been here for the Molokai Hoe, but I am very interested to see how we stack up against them, finally the top Tahitians verse the top Hawaiians one on one.

  • Any other thoughts you want to share?

The conditions this year I think will be a little better than last year…hopefully…so I hope it’s gonna be fun and not just a wake riding competition.

Travis Grant

Aloha MickTravis-Grant-250x245
Sorry mate for late reply.
At the airport so got a minute to write to you.
Solo. Yeh looks like a big year. There honestly are like 15 guys that on the day could win it. Getting into the top 10 this year is an achievement.
All it takes is a few mistakes from the top guys and there will be 10 guys there to swallow you up.

As always, all the talk is about the weather “oh if it’s windy Kai or Jimmy should win but if it’s flat oh Danny or Daniel will take it”, but this year it’s combined with weather, Tahiti and the V1.

I personally don’t see all the fuss. Yeh it’s a different design but in my opinion it has a AMA, iakos, you sit in it and use a outrigger blade!  Rudder or no rudder it’s an outrigger canoe.
Is it better? We will know on Sunday. I feel if the channel was rough and windy how [image][/image]could a Tahitian canoe out surf and maneuver the Hawaiian oc1 that has been refined and refined to surf that channel?? No way, but what do I know.
However if it’s flat is a v1 faster?? I personally don’t know. Everyone says it is , I’m undecided, but Sunday will be the real test.

I personally hope a v1 doesn’t win. Rudder or no rudder on it, what size, style, and shape of the fin the paddler decides to use is up to him. But the Reason I would not like a v1 to win is that it will look bad for Hawaii canoe design.
So Hawaii have gone down this design path now for ?? (? How many Years). The oc1 canoe I feel has maxed out! It’s as fast and efficient as you can make a 21ft oc1; kind of like the propeller plane. You can only make the prop spin so fast, so then they designed the jet engine.
I personally love the oc1, I’m happy and can’t see how this thing can go any faster. SUP, however, has a long way to go, But that’s another topic.

But If an old, yet kinda relatively new to Hawaii , beats all the Hawaiian canoes it looks bad for Hawaii design.  It could be a turning point for canoe paddling in Hawaii.

Or hopefully the Hawaiian oc1 and it’s athletes can shine through and show that it is the best canoe for Hawaii waters in there very own design. Flat or surf, how can anyone complain or have an excuse. We have had years to make the fastest canoe, if a v1 wins then it’s a faster canoe that day in those conditions.

Are Tahitians better, honest paddlers than us?? I feel as though they are very good and have a greater drive/passion than us. If they are also honest then it’s going to be a great race.

  • Predictions:

I really don’t think anyone can pick the top 3 this year. I certainly can not.
Conditions will play a major roll, but as my old coach use I say
“if your good enough”.

But I expect to see Bartlett and Ching in there. If surf look out for Jimmy, if flat Daniel, Kua.
Also in the mix and could win.
Manny, Will, Travis and Kai Chong.
Tahiti ??? Let’s find out.
So I basically named 15 guys.

So let the best honest man and craft win on the day and he will be crowned world champion in my opinion .

I will be trying my hardest and smartest to win, if I fall short I’ll still be stoked with my experience, and can’t wait to shake the hand of the winner.

All the best to everyone out there on Sunday.
Thank you Pa’a for putting on the event.
I along with everyone else want there to be surf but what ever mother natures deals to us on the day, we must accept and make it work.

Try have fun out there as well!


Jim Foti

[image]jimfot1[/image]Damn Trav summed it up real well. My small chiming in is he forgot Kalei Kahookele who he knows the back of as well.  The only guys really missing from the field of paddlers who could win are Pat Dolan and Jack Roney (other than dozens of Tahitians).

V-1 debacle: I think if it is flat having no rudder drag coefficient will make a difference. I mean if it gives you 1/10 of a mph advantage… after 4 hours is significant?  Mike your the mathematician… what is that in time? Anyhow pray for wind or we’ll all be buying two canoes.