The 2018 Olukai started off with a different type of nervous butterflies- instead of the nerves from expected distance of the race, participants of this year’s Olukai had to manage with high surf advisory swell 10-20ft (face) and the entrance and exit in and out of the water nearly completely closed out on the big set waves!
With visibility, rain and weather not safe to run on Saturday, the Olukai committee was faced with a challenge to run all division on Sunday. I was planning to race Hydrofoil which I had originally heard was going to run at the same time as the SUP elite division with the change of schedule, but as the morning went on that changed. I was starting to feel like I should have packed my race board in as well! Sure enough moments after the skippers meeting when I learned that the races would be held separately, one of the InZane Super Groms (junior paddler) I coach approached me. He was determined yet nervous, asking for advice, “Uncle Zane can you help me out, I’ve been training for this run but never in waves like this!”- coming from 8 year old Bobo Gallagher.
His father stood behind him even more nervous that his tiny yet determined son and asked me if I knew anyone that could paddle along side with him. I offered to escort him and get him out of Maliko and into the narrow closing out channel at Kanaha. We paddled the whole race together and he made it safe and smooth and even finished 3rd overall in the Under 17!
As soon as I hit the beach after finishing with Bobo, Uncle Archie Kalepa quickly updated me that they are only waiting for Connor and I for the start of the Hydrofoil Division! Connor was there to welcome Bobo and I. We were stoked to congratulate Connor for his overall win one the pro elite SUP division of the Olukai!
Connor and I hit the water with the Jet Ski assist and they dropped us off about a mile outside Kanaha where we had a flat water start. Dave Kalama called the start with all my friends, Connor Baxter, James Casey, Austin Kalama and Kody Kerbox, along each other’s side. We were pumped to be a part of this first ever type of Hydrofoil race! When the horn blew we all jumped up and quickly got to a flat water fly heading towards the solid head-to-double over head surf straight in towards the finish in front the Olukai event site.
Connor, Kody and I were leading the pack as we got up onto our flatwater fly sooner that Austin and James. Entering the surf I saw a set starting to jack-up and I faded into it, with a carve and just one missed stroke my Paddle hit the foil and went straight back to landing the board on the water and missing that set along with Connor and Kody. Despite being winded already from the burst into a flat water fly following by a few football field's length of pumping, I knew I had to burst once more and get into another wave and hope to catch up to Connor and Kody in front of me. The wave behind me crashed just behind my tail and I had a rodeo ride with a over head white wash takeoff but still managed to get flying and out in front of it. I could see Connor and Kody in front riding the same wave into the last flat water burst section from the waves at the reef to the beach, and to my side I saw James Casey on the same wave with me. I started sprinting in and managed to get in front of James in the flat water section, but at this point I’m already watching Connor and Kody finish just seconds in front of me! I was stoked to my two braddah from Maui, but for sure kicking myself in the olokē as we’d say in Hawai’i, for that minor mistake.
But I’ve taken my notes and I’m so excited for what the near future holds for hydrofoiling and the exciting competitive potential of it!
Congrats Connor Baxter on the double win at the 2018 Olukai and as well huge congrats to Sonni Hönscheid for her overal win in the women Pro elite Sup division plus top 10 overall including men! Major respect and congrats to all who conquered the 2018 Olukai, Special congratulations and respect to the U17 division for their determination and bravery! Results from U17- 1. Alex Mawae, 2. Slater Fleck and 3. Bobo Gallagher
Aloha and Mahalo!