12 times champion Oscar Chalupsky and World Marathon champion Hank McGregor will spearhead a strong South African challenge at the annual Maui Jim Molokai Surfski Challenge surfski ultra-marathon in Hawaii on Sunday.
Also on the starting line is Cape ace Jasper Mocké, the winner of the Perth Doctor and the Defis Kayak race in Guadeluope earlier this year, alongside Australian Molokai stalwarts Clint Robinson, Jeremy Cotter, the Kenny brothers Grant and Martin and Corey Hill, along with Hungarian Zsolt Szadovszki and local icon Lewis Laughlan and Tahitian Hiromana Flores.
McGregor left South Africa with a comprehensive victory in the series opener against a strong field in the Bay Union Surfski Series in his hometown of Durban, eager to add a second Molokai title to his win in 2009.
The race conditions are heavily dictated by the winds and currents in the Kaiwi channel between the two Hawaiian islands of Molokai and Oahu that hosts the 52km race route.
Weather forecasts point to a repeat of last year with tough conditions for the crossing with either very little wind and swell at all, or even worse, a headwind.
“The winds have been blowing this week,” said 2012 winner Oscar Chalupsky. “However on raceday it looks like it will be flat, not a breath.”
Chalupsky will be looking to erase the memories of his concerted effort to win a 13th title as a fifty year old last year, when weather deserted the region leaving the ocean between the islands, swinging the advantage towards the younger racers and away from the older more experienced tacticians who use big ocean runs to be competitive.
Chalupsky won it in 1983 as a twenty year old, the first of seven consecutive victories, before going to win the crown in a variety of conditions in his thirties and forties.
This will be the 38th running of the fabled channel crossing between Molokai and Oahu, hosted this year by the Kanaka Ikaika Racing Association.
It has been a solid month for South African surfskiers competing abroad, after Sean Rice won the Eurochallenge in La Villa Joyosa in Spain from fellow Capetonians Jasper and Dawid Mocké and then Rice’s younger brother Kenny in fourth to complete a South African domination of this international event.
Jasper Mocké comfortably heads the world surfski series, after winning all three races on the calendar thus far, the Mandurah Duel in Perth, the Perth Doctor and the Defis Kayak. The Maui Jim Molokai Surfski.