Here is the report from the Maui race, thanks to Annabel Anderson, who finished 1st in the women's unlimited 30-45 class and 2nd women's overall. Congratulations Annabel and thanks for the report!
"Every summer the trade winds start to pump and every July something comes around that is going to keep growing by the year as the sport of stand up spreads and more people get a taste of 'down winding'.
Home of the down wind has to be the Hawaiian island of Maui. The windsurfers came and harnessed the 330 something windy days a year and when they started to think up new ways to play in the breeze, they started flying some kites. Then a guy by the name of Laird started standing on a board and catching glides from white cap to white cap.
Those white caps and swells that the windsurfers and kiters came from all over the world to capture have been luring the best watermen and women in the world to get fit, to race, and to catch as many bumps as possible. So popular has 'the Maliko Run' become, that it has spurned an entire sub-industry of a shuttle service and specially shaped down wind boards 16ft plus, with a movable rudder to help you steer from bump to bump as you hurtle down swells with 30knots plus on your tail.
This 9.5 mile run from, Maliko Gulch to the Hawaiian Canoe Club in Kahului Harbour has also become home to the Naish International Paddle Championships. A celebration of prone and stand up paddlers from all over the world who come to capture the glide. Attracting over 200 competitors it is the precursor event to the Molokai to Oahu Race and majority of M2O competitors use it as their final pre-Molokai hit out.
Which is exactly what drew the kiwi contingent to the warm waters of Maui this July, a welcome respite for many from the chilly temperatures of the middle of a southern hemisphere winter. The god father of SUP in NZ Jeremy Stephenson rounded up a bunch of keen paddlers and herded them to Maui for their first true down winding experience and I flew in from Europe courtesy of a return trip from Europe I had won from winning the French Naish Tour.
An ultimate support crew of shuttle drivers (critical for down wind paddling), board caddies and beach crew were all there to support Jeremy, myself and top age group paddler Troy McAsey.
Race day dawned and the forecast was bang on, it was going to be a light wind day, which meant tactics and navigation were going to be key and the locals who do this run day in, day out were going to have some local knowledge to put to use.
The prone paddlers took off first followed by the stand ups in size length from 12'6 through to unlimited with three minute intervals between each. Jeremy and I were both riding unlimited boards, so we would have the entire fleet to work though as we made our way down the run.
Before anyone thinks that down wind paddling is easy because you have the wind and swell with you, think again……it is one of the most physically demanding and technical sports I have ever done. If you are not on the bump, or in the right position on the board, you will not get the glide. Simple. You can paddle your butt off, but if you paddle at the wrong time, you are going to be more of a brake than an accelerator and miss the glide. Then we need to factor in that rudder. Steerage? Brilliant! But only if you use it at the right moment in the right place.
But when it all comes together it is one of the most exhilarating feelings you will experience. Such is the hull speed of some of these big down wind boards that if you find yourself on a swell, with the right stroke at the right time you will be hurtling down the bump and onto the next….and the next. By this stage, you are likely to be riding the tail of that 17' board to stop the nose from pearling into the swell in front of you and catapulting you over the front.
Local knowledge was always going to be key in this race and for me, my objective was to have a solid ride, catch as many bumps as I could and paddle hard in an inside line. I did all of the above and was working my way strongly through the fleet, but took a line that was perhaps a little too inside and close to the reefs of the shore meaning I didn't have the fastest line into the entrance of Kahului Harbour.
Doing the best I could with the line that I had, I turned into the Harbour and put the hammer down to do battle with the cross/head wind into the beach. 2nd overall in the females and just over a minute behind the local talent of Talia Gangini who deservedly owned her home turf with a great line.
Jeremy, in training for a solo Molokai race took 7th overall after going a little too inside as well.
Our Starboard team mates had a great race with Connor Baxter destroying the field on a 12'6 to be 5th overall on scratch, with the super man of SUP Bart de Zwart putting in a great performance in the unlimited class as well. Kiwi Troy McAsey brought home the team kiwi bacon rounding out 4th overall in the 12'6 class and the beautiful blondes of Tiffany Ward and Anne Marie Reichmann did the tiki proud.
One thing is for sure these kiwis have had a taste of the down wind bug and I would be expecting them to be amped up and back here in Maui next year amping for more of those infamous Maliko glides. "
Here are the overall results (all classes). Congratulations to all the winners.
Supguide.com says: Special congratulations to our friends: Annabel Anderson, winning women's unlimited class, and finished 2nd among all women. To German Sonni Hörscheid, winning the women's 14' race. To Bart de Zwart finishing 5th on 14', to Gaetan Sene, finishing 7th in the 14' 30+ division.
For more detailed results per class are here
"But the final word has to go to the best support crew ever, Team Kiwi. Cheers and we'll see you back here in Maui next year. Likely there will be a few more of you once you go home and tell them all how good it is up here!
Put Maui and July on your travel list, I promise you will not regret it!"