Mariko Strickland and Jen Koki teamed up to take home first place honors in the women’s division of the two-team Molokai Channel standup paddle board race on Sunday.
Strickland, from Kaua‘i, said it was her first time making the trek from Molokai to O‘ahu, but her inexperience on those waters didn’t hinder her effort.
“I wasn’t thinking that I had never done the channel before,” Strickland said. “I was a little nervous. I know that water can get a little gnarly but I just kind of went for it.”
Strickland took the first 30 minutes of the paddle and then switched off with Koki, from O’ahu, every 15 minutes afterwards. The pair finished the 32 mile trek in 5 hours and 55 minutes, beating the next female pair by just under an hour.
Strickland said she and Koki are about the same size, which helped make the transition between two paddlers easier.
“We worked really well together,” she said. “She has a really strong surfing background and with our size and positive attitudes it worked good for both of us.”
Strickland has been dominating the SUP competition as of late. Earlier in the summer Strickland won the women’s division at the Teva Mountain games in Colorado and has been nominated by SUP Magazine as one of the top female paddlers of the year.
SUP Magazine will name the winners of the contest in the next few months. The winners are decided by a fan vote which can be found at www.supthemag.com.
Strickland will stay busy over the next few months trying to pad her resume. She will compete in the second annual SUP/Paddleboard Na Pali Race this Sunday.
Strickland may be focusing on this next race already, but upon reflecting over her most recent win, Strickland was content.
“It’s a pretty big win in the paddling world,” she said. “I’m pretty stoked.”