Training in the heaviest wind conditions the South Okanagan had to offer didn’t prepare Don Mulhall and Tyson Bull for what they faced in the open ocean from Maui to Molokai April 18.
Conditions in the week leading up to the 42-kilometre Maui to Molokai Outrigger race called for strong winds and high surf, including a small boat advisory for the Pailolo Channel — which runs between the islands of Maui and Molokai. Race day weather conditions saw an increase, creating waves more than 17 feet high and winds of 35 knots (65 km/h).
“This being our first time, our main goal was to finish, and with conditions being as big as they were, we were challenged to do that,” said Bull in a press release. “Our 26-foot long boat, on top of a wave close to two storeys in height made it seem like you were perched on a high diving board, looking down into the trough below you.”
Mulhall said one paddler had the nose break off his boat and was out of the race. There were other teams who abandoned the race.
When asked about the field, Mulhall simply said, “The Hawaiian’s just have a sense.”
“They just understand the waves better,” said Mulhall, adding that their goal was to finish the race in three hours and 15 minutes, which they fell shy of at 3:34. “Teams were really good. They understand the ocean.”
Mulhall was washed off his boat five times and it took him just over a minute to get back on each time. The pair competed in the open men two-person outrigger division, a race that saw close to 180 boats on the start line at Maui’s D.T. Fleming Beach. They finished 122nd and were third in their division of three teams. Crafts included one and two-person outrigger canoes, surfski’s and stand up paddle boards, with some crews racing as a relay team.
The paddlers, along with members of the Penticton Racing Canoe Club, are now training for the upcoming Duel in the Desert outrigger race on Skaha Lake May 9 where conditions are expected to be a little smaller. For more information, go to www.pentictonoutrigger.com.