Downwind Month Is Almost Here, and Maui 2 Molokai (M2M) Is Set to Be One of the Real Highlights
We’re less than a month away from one of the real gems on the international calendar: The classic Maui 2 Molokai SUP race in Hawaii, which is often rated as the greatest downwind run on the planet.
As part of the traditional “Downwind Month” in Hawaii, M2M is set for Saturday July 16th this year, and it’s also looking set to attract a pretty solid field. The channel crossing from Maui to Molokai is happening just two weeks before the 6-star Molokai 2 Oahu race, meaning it’ll once again attract a lot of top names looking to sharpen their skills before the big dance at the end of the month.
We’ve rated Maui 2 Molokai as a 3-star event in season 2016, meaning it’ll score at least 30% on the Race Index and give the World Rankings leaderboard a good push.
I know for sure there’s going to be a big contingent of Aussies at the M2M this year. They’ll be led by defending M2O champ Travis Grant (who now lives on Oahu), and will include the likes of 2015 Maui2Molokai runner-up Matt Nottage, James Casey, Toby Cracknell, Lincoln Dews, and Terrene Black, all of whom are world class ocean racers.
There will also be top competitors from as far and wide as Brazil, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe on the starting line. Below is Vinnicius Martins from Brazil…
The internationals will be up against the local heroes, including downwind masters such as Jeremy Riggs, Livio Menelau, and perhaps M2M veteran Dave Kalama as well. But while there’s a lot of history surrounding this race, most of the stories center around one name in particular: Connor Baxter.
Connor has literally never lost this race, having won six years in a row stretching way back to the inaugural edition in 2010. It’s the longest winning-streak on the men’s side of the sport.
Just like with his five straight OluKai crowns, Connor seems virtually unbeatable when the downwind bumps are running off the coast of Maui. The world number one enjoys a special connection with these waters, and it’ll take a monumental effort to knock him off his perch.
On the women’s side, look for Terrene to be up there, but if Andrea Moller (pictured above) is back in form after her serious leg injury, you’d be a brave paddler to bet against her. Maui is full of dark horse downwind talent, with the likes of Kathy Shipman, Talia Decoite and Devin Blish always up near the front of the field.
Though while the focus is on the unlimited division, there’s always an intriguing battle in the stock class (14′) as well — check out the full results from Maui 2 Molokai 2015 and M2M 2014 to see who’s been firing in recent years.
M2M may be considered a “warm-up event” for the major M2O, but while it’s not yet on the same level of prestige as its big brother, the actual channel crossing itself, which starts on Maui’s western shores and ends on the southern side of Molokai, is generally considered a lot more fun as a pure downwind run. In fact there’s probably no other downwinder in the world that gets as many rave reviews as Maui to Molokai.
This clip from Josh Riccio highlights exactly why…
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But while it attracts plenty of international talent and attention, Maui2Molokai has always been a locally-run affair. So to step things up, this year the organising team has tripled in size, with Mike Jucker from the excellent Stand Up Magazin being brought in to help promote the event and manage the media side of things.
The 2016 Maui 2 Molokai SUP race is not to be confused with the Maui Molokai Teams Challenge, a separate event that’s set for the following weekend (July 23rd). But while they both run the same course, most of the big names appear to be focusing on the traditional M2M race on the 16th.
We’ll have plenty more coverage of M2M and ‘Downwind Month’ right through July, but in the meantime here’s that awesome aerial edit from a couple of years ago.
Also take a look through the awesome gallery by 808photo.me from last year’s race