Lenny, Hönscheid Win 20th Annual Molokai 2 Oahu, Multiple New Records Set
Storied. Fabled. Legendary. Epic.
Every bit of clichéd sensationalism in the dictionary couldn’t describe what happened today at the 20th anniversary Molokai 2 Oahu World Championships.
Hawaii’s own Kai Lenny set a new M2O record with his first-ever victory. Returning women’s champ Sonni Hönscheid set her own record winning her third in a string of consecutive M2O titles, a claim no other paddler can match. There was even a new record set in the prone division, courtesy of champion paddler, Matt Bevilacqua. The scene at Oahu’s Maunalua Bay was a finish too good to be scripted.
Conditions weren’t all-time, but no one was complaining as 10- to 15-knot easterly winds, two- to three-foot favorable swell and a rising tide propelled competitors across the 32-mile Channel of Bones from Molokai’s Kakaao Gulch to Oahu’s Maunalua Bay. For racers, it was a breath of fresh air after last year’s windless slog between the islands.
Lenny found his win with a record-time of 4:07:41, besting rival and three-time M2O champ Connor Baxter’s 2014 record by 27 seconds. The victory is “a dream come true” for Lenny, who spent the last four years hunting an M2O title with top-4 finishes each year, including a runner-up victory behind 2015 champ, Travis Grant, who finished second today. Connor Baxter rounded out the top-3 with a time of 4:16:19, after the leading trio broke away from a stacked pack of hungry elite racers, including in-form Aussies James “Jimmy” Casey, Toby Cracknell and Matt Nottage, who finished fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been that focused in a race before,” Lenny said at the finish. “This is by far the hardest event I’ve ever done.”
Sonni Hönscheid reflects after claiming her third-straight M2O title
On the women’s side, returning champ Sonni Hönscheid further synched her stranglehold as the queen of M2O, claiming her third consecutive first-place title. No other competitor in the history of the event has ever won three races in a row. Kiwi powerhouse and last year’s runner-up Annabel Anderson clung tightly to Hönscheid for a solid first-half of the race before Hönscheid gained a considerable lead that she held to the finish. Australia’s 2013 M2O champ Terrene Black delivered a commendable third-place finish among the women.
We’ll be updating results as they come in. Check back tomorrow for a full gallery and further details from the 20th annual Molokai 2 Oahu World Championship!
Kai Lenny comes across the finish line
The article was originally published on Standup Paddling
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