Challenge of the Channel Still Spurs Mitchell

HONOLULU – (June 15, 2009) — Seven consecutive years as the reigning king of the 32-mile Rainbow Sandals Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard Race, presented by Honolua, are not enough to satisfy Australia’s Jamie Mitchell. Fueled by an addiction to the challenge that the Molokai Channel famously delivers, and the chance that this year might be the ultimate crossing, he returns to Oahu today to prepare for race day on Sunday, July 26, when he plans to make it eight in a row.

Above: Mitchell en-route to victory #7 in 2008.
Photo: Bernie Baker
Mitchell, 32, holds the cracking race record time of four hours, 48 minutes, 23 seconds, posted in 2007. But the clock has never been his keeper.

After all these years, the channel has become a close personal friend. It’s the potential for the ultimate crossing — taking all your training, reading all of the signs and turning in the best possible performance under those conditions — that keeps him coming back.

“I do so much training and make so many minor tweaks in my approach to the race, so the real excitement comes from applying all of that and seeing how well it plays out,” says Mitchell.

“You’ve got to work out how to work with the channel, whatever it throws at you – wind, tide, swell, different courses. That’s what you get from years of experience.

“No matter what the conditions are like, I’m itching and excited come race morning. It only comes around one day a year and I can’t wait to wake up that morning and paddle into the unknown.

“I’ve got nothing to prove. I’m in better shape today than I was two years ago when I broke the record. Hopefully I can feel the same, if not better, when I cross the line this year. That’s the goal.”

Mitchell’s main opposition comes from a handful of capable Molokai challengers, each “known quantities” on the channel after years of neck-and-neck racing with Mitchell: Hawaii pair Brian and Marc Rocheleau; Californian Ryan Addison; and former pro surfer Keoni Watson, Honolulu.

The Rainbow Sandals Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard Race, presented by Honolua, C4 Waterman, Duke’s Waikiki and Maui Jim, is the unofficial world title of the sport and is considered the most brutal physical and mental challenge in the world for the waterman. The race includes divisions for traditional paddleboarding, standup paddleboarding, and solo and team divisions in each.

The race will take place on Sunday, July 26, with the first finishers expected at Oahu’s Maunaloa Bay around noon. More than 100 paddlers will make the 32-mile crossing. A record prize purse of $16,000 is on offer, with the lion’s share going to the first solo paddleboarder and the first solo SUP-er, each to receive $3,000.

Rainbow Sandals is a privately owned company out of San Clemente, California, founded more than 35 years ago by Jay ‘Sparky’ Longley Jr., who grew tired of seeing broken sandals littering the beaches. He vowed to come up with a sandal that would be long lasting and comfortable. The result was a soft sponge-rubber sandal that rapidly gained a reputation of comfort synonymous with the easy going beach lifestyle it was born out of.

Mike Takahashi, Race Director, (808) 638-8208

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