Parko Earns Paddleboard Bronze

Joel Parkinson and Wes Berg place third in Molokai Paddle Race

Joel Parkinson and Wes Berg alternated paddling throughout the 32-mile trek from Molokai to Oahu. Photo: ASP

He doesn't paddle often, but when he does he earns himself a medal. Joel Parkinson has added yet another notch to his waterman’s belt with his recent third-place finish in the 16th annual Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard Championships.

Parko teamed up with his trainer Wes Berg, a competitive lifesaver and Molokai Channel veteran, and together they covered the 32-mile Ka'iwi Channel in a mere 5 hours and 49 minutes. Their time earned them a third-place finish in the stock paddleboard division and a proud spot on the winner's podium. Parkinson had been in training for two months during the World Tour's midyear break in preparation for the race, his first appearance in the event.

"We were hoping for a top five finish, so to finish in the top three was huge for us," he said in an ASP release. "There were some hills and valleys and a bunch of times I found myself thinking, 'You know, I'm a surfer, not a paddler. What am I doing here?' At certain stages I'd be feeling like I was paddling backwards, then five minutes later I'd be powering ahead and feeling great."

"There's just something really primal about being in the middle of the ocean paddling from one island to the other," added Parkinson. "It was an amazing feeling coming in. It's the most incredible vibe on shore, as it's such a huge race in Hawaii and there's such camaraderie between everyone involved. It's much more than a simple sporting contest, and it's so different to being in a surfing contest."

After finishing on Sunday in Hawaii, little time was wasted celebrating. Parkinson was back in the water at the US Open in Huntington on Tuesday morning, where he got through his Round of 96 heat. He'll face Julian Wilson, Alejo Muniz, and Pat Gudauskas in a stacked heat in the Round of 48.