HONOLULU — World paddleboard champion Jamie Mitchell, from Queensland, Australia, remains undefeated after posting his fourth conclusive win of the season today in the $15,000 Hennessey’s International Paddleboard Championship, on O‘ahu’s North Shore. The 7-mile course from Turtle Bay to Waimea Bay offered no records due to inconsistent tradewinds; however, the flatwater pace set by Mitchell was blistering, finishing in a time of 1 hour, 3 minutes and 57 seconds.
Honolulu’s Kanesa Duncan took honors in the women’s division (1:16:49), and Brian Rocheleau (Honolulu, 1:08:08) was the top Hawai‘i men’s finisher, placing fifth overall. A total field of 186 paddlers took to the water yesterday, including 44 stand-up paddleboarders. Guy Pere (Hale‘iwa) won the men’s SUP division, Candice Appleby (Honolulu) won the women’s SUP, and Christian Bradley claimed the C4 Waterman 17-and-under SUP division.
Since arriving to Hawai‘i three weeks ago, Mitchell, 31, has now made a clean sweep of four separate races that have ranged in distance from 4 to 17 miles. His final test will come next Sunday when he sets out to defend his title in the 32-mile QuiksilverEdition Moloka‘i to O‘ahu Paddleboard Race.
Rocheleau remains the top Hawai‘i paddleboarder heading into Moloka‘i, working hard to adopt the Australian style of knee-paddling that has made them unbeatable for the past six years. The majority of Hawai‘i paddleboarders still paddle the full distance prone.
“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable paddling on my knees now,” Rocheleau said in a release. “I’m a 100 percent better at it than I was a year ago — I’m paddling 70 percent of the distance on my knees, and mixing it up 30 percent of the time laying down.”
Kanesa Duncan was ecstatic with her victory over Australia’s Shakira Westdorp yesterday, particularly given that she has been out of the water for much of the past year with a knee reconstruction after a skateboard injury. For two years the pair have dominated the top two positions in all major races and Duncan leveled the score yesterday. Westdorp is the defending champion of the Moloka‘i race, so next week will be the decider.
Guy Pere, a former stock paddleboard champion, took the stand-up paddleboard division this year that was presented by C4 Waterman. Paddleboarders and stand-up paddleboarders started at the same time yesterday and Pere came in sixth over the line behind the top five paddlers who were all on unlimited class, traditional paddleboards.
“It just goes to show that Jamie and those guys can still beat the stand-up paddleboarders even though you get so much reach and leverage with the paddle,” Pere said. “There’s no comparison — they’re two totally different sports, really. I don’t go out there to race the paddleboarders, I go out there to race the other standups. To me, that’s the fairness of the sport.”