HONOLULU — A 17-year-old from Maui defended his title in a grueling 32-mile paddleboard race across the Molokai channel.
Connor Baxter of Makawao defended his 2011 title Sunday at the 16th annual Molokai-2-Oahu Paddleboard World Championships. He finished in 4:13:26, making him the top overall men’s standup paddleboard winner, organizers said. His time beat his former course record set last year by more than 13 minutes.
There were nearly 300 competitors on prone and standup paddleboards navigating the Kaiwi Channel, also known as the “Channel of Bones,” at times battling waves that sometimes got higher than 8 feet.
Baxter exchanged the lead many times with Dave Kalama, 30 years his senior.
Kalama, 47, of Kula, finished in 4:13:50, while Kai Lenny, 19, of Paia, came in third on the stock board at 4:22:14.
The women’s top finisher was 19-year-old Talia Gangini of Haiku, who completed the race in 4:55:02. She beat 2011 champion Andrea Moller’s course record by more than 30 minutes.
Professional surfers Rob Machado, Joel Parkinson and Jamie Sterling participated in two- and three-man team relays, testing their wave-riding skills on paddleboards.
Jordan Mercer, 18, of Noosa Heads, Australia, defended her prone women’s title with a time of 5:34:53.