Iconic Paddling Race Returns to Hawaii’s ‘Channel of Bones’

Heavy water and wild weather often wrack the 51-kilometer passage of the Ka’iwi Channel. Now, the world’s best paddlers return there to race for the first time in three years.

This article was originally published on GearJunkie.

A waterway doesn’t get the moniker “Channel of Bones” for no reason. The Ka’iwi Channel separates the islands of Moloka’i and O’ahu. Notoriously foul weather and open-ocean swells routinely thrash the 51km waterway — and the bones of anyone navigating it. In fact, it’s where legendary waterman Eddie Aikau died in 1978.

Perfect place for a standup paddleboard race, right?

Yes, say the organizers of the Moloka’i 2 O’ahu Paddleboard World Championships (M2O). The celebrated event kicks off July 30, 2023, for the first time in four years, after repeated COVID-related cancellations.

Categories include SUP, Prone paddling, Foil, and Wing Foil. Entrants compete in teams, relay-style, or as individuals, and support boats follow along. When the gun sounds, paddlers take off downwind over swells up to 3.5 meters that can carry them hundreds of yards at once. Foil racers are typically the fastest, completing the crossing in four hours or less.

“We are so excited for the response and momentum for our return to racing this summer. Over half of the athletes entered are first-time entrants, mostly in the Prone divisions, which is a testament to the renewed growth in the sport,” Shannon Delaney, the director of the race, said in a press release.

Race fans can visit the Moloka’i 2 O’ahu website for more information, or follow the race on YouTube or its various social channels.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.