Friday, August 1, 2014

2014 Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships - Lina Augaitis and Art Aquino

One of my favourite things is to watch and be a part of, people fulfilling their dreams particularly paddling/outdoor adventure dreams.  We have had this opportunity with Werner Paddles and Nikki Rekman Sales team paddler, Lina Augaitis.  Lina's been ALL over the world stand up paddling this year in pursuit of fulfilling a dream.  With the support of her husband Andrew, family, friends and sponsors we are thrilled to share with you another Lina update.  We also welcome, Werner Paddler, Art Aquino with his perspective of the race (thanks, Art!!)

Lina and Art
M2O (Molokai 2 Oahu) Partner Style - Lina

Last year was my first crossing of the channel (Molokai 2 Oahu) SOLO UNL. There were many firsts for me last year when it came to BIG ocean paddling. I kind of threw myself out there for the challenge and adventure. It was all AMAZING and a great learning experience. 

This year, I came into the race a different paddler with different goals and a different history.  Being a truly competitive person, I knew this year I would not have 3 weeks to train on Maui and improve my ocean skills. I did not want to do worse than last year so decided to change it up and find a partner and try it partner style.  It was something new and different and adventurous but I still got to be out there enjoying the amazing atmosphere and ocean. 

I asked Art (Aquino) to be my partner, it seemed like a great fit, we were both from PNW, rode SIC boards, paddled Werner Paddles and he is kind of obsessed with downwinding... I also found out he is one stellar guy.... I felt lucky to have him as my partner and share this awesome experience with him. 

We were on a production 14ft SIC Bullet V2 which really is a perfect board for these conditions. Stable, glides with ease, great for catching waves and has the trademark SIC handle for a great grip in the wind. 

Our boat Captain, Captain Dan had a fab boat and two awesome helpers with him, Shelley helped with getting us back on the boat after our switches and the other mate took a ton of pictures! 

Art and I paddled together for the first time on the Wed before the race.. haha... We met on Maui and shared a Maliko run. We talked strategy and he gave me some downwind pointers. On Thursday we practiced some switches with a leash and on Friday we were off to Molokai. We didn't have much time but we totally made it work!

The race: 

I started us off. I had a pretty good start but everything always gets a little crazy when boats start finding their paddlers.. HAHA. At least I managed to stay on top on the board:) Art and I decided to switch off every half hour which was great, we got a little bit of time to relax and then just enough time to push hard and get into a rhythm. I would definitely recommend this timing for teams thinking of partnering up for M2O.  So once the first half hour was up it was time to jump in the water. I was the most nervous about the switches, hanging out in the water treading water until the boat came around and picked me up in the middle of the ocean was very nerve racking, who knows what is lurking down there under me. I later found out that some paddlers actually had encounters with sharks... AH.. Funny enough once we started racing I didn't think about sharks and scary ocean creatures too much and rather enjoyed the feeling of being out there in the middle of the ocean treading water... hmmm.. 

Anyways, Art rocked it once it was his turn and we were right in there in the mix of boats and other paddlers. We ended up heading slightly more north than the main pack but that was fine.... I felt great out there, having fun catching bumps and then chillin on the boat. It was nice to be able to eat and refuel while resting on the boat and then push hard while on the water.  We ended up finishing the race with Art crossing the line on the board and I was swimming out to the finish line. FUN! 

We managed a 2nd place in the mixed team division with a time of 5hours 24sec. Not too shabby if I say so myself. Thanks Art for being a stellar partner out there! 

I was on a SIC 14ft Bullet V2, a beauty of a board and ideal for the conditions at hand. I was paddling with a Werner S1000 grand Prix paddle. It was the perfect paddle. I used electrolytes (Nuun and scratch lab), Vitargo, Vfuel gels, ClifBlocks, clifbars, and some fruit as my nutrition. Thanks to Feed the Machine and CLifBar. 

live, love, laugh,..DREAM!

M20 2014 with partner Lina Augaitis - Art

M20 was an outstanding and very memorable event for me as it was my first Ka’iwi channel crossing. I am so grateful that Lina had asked me to partner up with her on this journey, M20 was on my bucket list but didn’t think it was going to happen for me this year seeing how it sold out soo fast, I thank her so much for the opportunity and was honored to be considered.

I believe we really complimented each other out there; I have to admit I am pretty much a downwind junkie and she is such an all around strong paddler and truly a great person to be around, we just made perfect team!

So as to be expected, the ocean conditions were very different from the Pailolo Channel/M2M race I took in last April. However the wind waves and ground swells were very similar in size… but shape and direction for the M20?? …not so much :)

Lina had an extremely solid start in the slightly bumpy water generated by boat wakes and other paddlers, she did a great job getting us out into the front portion of the pack. Our first switch came in at 30 minutes at which point I literally jumped off the boat for the on-water switch (very interesting feeling lemme tell ya…) and by this time a large percentage of the swells started coming from the north or on the right side of the board, so we were constantly dropping left into ocean swells some as big as head high or more and riding them right… we did this over and over as much as we could until the 20 to 25 mile mark at which point we slowly started to turn south and were able ride the swells similar to a typical downwinder but with much more chop than say a Maliko run. Then nearing the end of the race we hit the infamous China Wall section of the run, that’s where ground and wind swell oppose each other and push up against a cliff that drops straight into the ocean creating junkie swells that were pretty challenging to ride. Then we finally got around the point near the Spitting Caves and the waves started to flatten out… but we weren’t out of the woods just yet…  the wind direction changed to offshore and then once again powerhouse Lina Augaitis took charge as if it was truly no big deal and got us pretty close to the finish line until our last switch.

The race was over but the memories will pretty much last a lifetime. It felt soo good to be done but left me wondering about next year and the possibility of doing it solo. Hmm…  ;)

Special thanks to Bluesmiths, WernerPaddles,  Urban Surf, Paddle With Riggs & Captain Dan. 
Also, thank you SIC for lending us the board we couldn’t have done it without you.

After party, podium photo!

Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin