Aerial footage highlights courtesy of Ocean Paddler TV / Olukai
Kahului, Maui -- Spectators witnessed a spectacular finish to the seventh annual OluKai Hoʻolauleʻa three-day ocean festival Sunday with Maui's undisputed "Queen of the Ocean," Andrea Moller, winning back-to-back titles by taking out first place in the elite OC-1 division with a time of 53 minutes, 46 seconds. Moller's win came just 24 hours after winning the standup paddle (SUP) crown. [Read the full story on Moller’s SUP victory]
Honolulu's Jimmy Austin claimed first place in the men's OC-1 division with a time of 47:05. Moller and Austin take home the gender-equal prize purse of $15,000. The prestigious eight-mile elite OC-1 and recreational OC-2 race saw almost 150 of the world's best paddlers battle it out on the famous Maliko Downwind Run on Maui's North Shore. The 2015 race produced an exciting field of the world's top ranked pros, who rarely line up together for short-distance races.
Paddlers couldn't have asked for better conditions with straight-out-of-the-east 15- to 20-knot winds and 3- to 5-foot swells offering perfect downwind surfing. The Brazil born and raised Maui resident, Moller, whose strength is surfing, said that she enjoyed every single bump in Sunday’s race. "Today's conditions confirmed why I love to paddle," Moller said. "I felt a lot of pressure with yesterday's race, but today I got out there and just had fun. With a lineup of predominantly local paddlers, I felt like I was out paddling with friends."
The father of two, Austin, a well-known face in Hawaii's paddling community, was genuinely shocked to have won Sunday's race, his fourth time racing OluKai Hoʻolauleʻa (and second win) given the field of strong contenders. "There were 12 other guys out there that could have won today's race, but conditions were in my favor given downwind surfing is my thing. When I saw the finish line in sight, I just went for it," Austin says.
Travis Grant followed Austin in second (47:24) with Hawaii’s Daniel Chun in third (47:26), while on the women’s side, ￼Oahu’s Rachel Bruntsch followed Moller in second (55:33) with Maui’s Dane Ward in third (55:50). Check out the full OluKai Hoʻolauleʻa results here.
The final day also included free Hawaiian cultural games and activities and the spectacular finish of The Hawaii Sailing Canoe Association's Alenuihaha Challenge on the shores of Kanaha Beach Park. OluKai Hoʻolauleʻa will be filmed in HD and broadcast internationally courtesy of OluKai media partner, Ocean Paddler TV.
-- Check out more photos from Saturday’s downwind SUP race.