Who needs a paddle to kick ass? Certainly not all-around waterman Jamie Mitchell from Australia. From stand-up paddling to big wave surfing, the 32-year-old Aussie phenom dominates, plain and simple. And he did so sans paddle this past weekend, July 26, winning the world championships of paddleboarding at the 13th annual Molokai to O’ahu paddleboard race.
The 32-mile course from Kaluako’i Beach, Molokai to Maunalua Bay, O’ahu, was one of endurance and strength, certainly not the type of place you’d intentionally want to be caught without a paddle. But you don’t have one paddleboarding, and Mitchell’s competitors didn’t have a chance. With 25-knot winds and 6-foot seas in the channel serving up the toughest conditions in years, Mitchell, the 7-time defending champion who’s sponsored by Kaenon sunglasses, burned his shoulder muscles, and fellow competitors, with his eighth consecutive win with a time of 4 hours, 58 minutes, 25 seconds. That’s a heck of a lot of forward-propelling arm circles.
The conditions were great for the first two hours, he says, and it initially seemed as though records may be broken. But not long after, the conditions got rough, with waves coming from every direction. Battling strong currents through the treacherous Kaiwi Channel, the paddlers faced one of the tougher events in years. “The first part of the race was pretty good, but that last bit was tough, probably the toughest in the last three or four years,” says the Mitchell-lator, fast becoming a national hero in Australia.