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Olukai 2014 Maliko Kanaha Race

Please reply with your stories of the Olukai 2014 Maliko Kanaha Race.

No training, but did my best ever! What?!?

We’ve had the best winter ever for surf in Maui. That means I’ve gone downwind SUP’ing maybe 5 times since September. Between surfing every day and focusing on my career, downwind SUP was just not on the radar for me this year! Oh well, “I’ll do the race just for fun.”. The forecast for race day was no wind. So who cares if I’m doing going away dinner for friends with lots of beer the night before. “What’s the difference? I totally failed to do any training, so I’m going to suffer and do horribly. Drink up!” This was unlike my serious race prep for every other race of my life.

Race day morning was hot and still. Oh well, this is going to be a sweatfest. “Should I even do the race?” I think I’ll suffer in the race just to get the slippers and a workout! Since I didn’t care about the race, I even did my 30 minute vigorous Ashtanga yoga routine. I even spent a little time that morning doing a bit more than snuggling under the sheets…which would have been impossible with a serious race focus!

I casually left my driveway at 10:45 with the race start in the water supposedly at noon. I didn’t have my normal Heed to fill my water pack. All I could find were endurolyte tablets, a couple of Cliff Shot Double Expresso gels, and 3 FRS chews. I broke the endurolyte tablets and put the salty mix into my waist water pack. I had one gel and 3 chews right after getting on the water.

I had a sneaky suspicion that the race might start early. It seems like “outside” starts tend not to start based on a watch but whenever the top athletes are ready. Luckily, I got to the start line just as the gun went off at about 11:55 am.

Time to paddle! The wind had come up enough that there were actually really nice bumps at the start. I’ve learned that downwind SUP is not about muscling it, but about catching and riding bumps. I kept telling myself to conserve energy, except when I got an opportunity to catch a bump. Then I would paddle 110%. Part of reason to save energy is to avoid falling from fatigue, which costs energy, time, and confidence. Thankfully, I had zero falls, but I did have a few close calls! Toward the end, right before crossing the waves off Stable Road, I was neck and neck with Chris Pagdilao. He was vigorously paddling quickly. I was tired and waited for bumps. By the finish, I had 24 seconds on Chris.

While I was quite undertrained, that’s way better than being overtrained. Instead of training the prior week, I was spending time teaching my friend @beau how to SUP in waves. Possibly the cross training of being on a small, tippy board is really good for downwind racing? Seems like quite a few of the top downwind guys spend tons of time in the waves.

The prior year I trained like crazy. It was the first year that I had my own 17’ SIC Bullet. I was super lean and fit. I did pretty good, getting 3rd in the 40-49, open men’s division and 32nd overall with a time of 1:04:25. This year I got 23rd overall, 1st in my division, with a time of 1:05:52. Times were all considerably slower this year with the light winds. You can see all the Olukai 2014 results here.

So, to summarize, my top guesses for what matters:

  1. Better to be undertrained than overtrained.
  2. Practice wave SUP’ing on a tiny, tiny board. It does wonders for your balance.
  3. Don’t stress about the race. Any psychological stress does way more harm to your performance than the stress of worrying about how good or bad you’ll do.
  4. Save your energy for catching bumps.
  5. Don’t look at other paddlers! You’ll miss opportunities for bumps. Focus on the bump in front of you!
  6. Pack water with electrolytes when it’s hot.
  7. Cliff Shot Expresso gels!

Did I miss anything?

Hookipa wind with a little bump at noon. Look at the wind later! Ouch!

The finish at Kanaha had an almost glassy NE 10 mph wind, and later a NW headwind!

Maliko chaos getting in the water:

@justin getting ready:

Pretty Maliko, but these stragglers were about to miss the start!

With Hogan Kania, @jeremy, and @suzie post race.

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Great post Justin to an inside look of your approach, conditions that day and your strategy. You had “a plan” that’s more than most. Keeping good to all your points isn’t easy of sure. The race seems to often start early so I guess you have to just be ready at all times to get it on.

This time I tried to save my energy first thing and just cruise out and easy and not be in such a rush. That helped me a lot. Since I don’t have a rudder to help me point upwind, it’s a bit more tricky and I have spent too much energy getting there.

In reference to your summary; which was very good, I’d say what get’s me sometimes is looking to see “who” is near me and that can throw me for a few precious minutes. Meaning, if it’s someone that I usually am competing with at each race, I let it get to me and I shouldn’t! I NEVER look behind me as it throws of my rhythm and focus on the bumps.

Speaking to item no 6, I’d like to suggest placing water bladder in freezer and pull out before you leave or add ice cubes. We’ve had unusually hot hot race conditions and it really helps me.I’m also a big fan of electrolytes and depending upon length of race I adjust my mix ratio.

The winds that day were a complete surprise. I had in my mind that it was going to be a complete hard grind and honestly was just focusing on not going hard. What a gift for the first few miles anyway. I caught some great glides and connected more than I thought. I had to work hard for a few, but was rewarded. Then the real glue and syrup came at Baldwin.

I openly admit my flat water paddling needs work! I pressed hard and was on the hunt for the usual spots I knew I could at least maybe 10yards here or there. I cleared the reef no prob and was able to pass 4 guys! Stoked. I had a competitor on my radar and locked in on her. Coming from the side another gal I really wanted to pass, but just couldn’t get myself unstuck.

I was greeted at the beach by Wendall DeVera and a big smile and felt like i was running off my board in mid air. I scrambled around others and passed 2 more guys ( yay ) and hit the hard pack and ran as fast as I could. I felt I had a great race. I was smiling and was stoked. I didn’t medal this year but was super close. I’ll be back!

Mahalo Justin for forum here. Wish we had more downwind races this year. Just seems like we don’t have enough!

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Here’s a great video of Connor Baxter and Andrea Moller, first place in men’s and women’s unlimited:

Here’s a good post-race recap:

Here’s a great race recap from @Buzzykerbox with exciting coverage of the close race for 4th between Kody Kerbox and Danny Ching.