Moloka'i Solo 2004: Who's got what it takes?

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In only four weeks is the race that the best of the best, paddlers from Hawaii, New Zealand, California, and possibly Tahiti and Europe have been training all year for. The Molokai World Championship is the most challenging race of the year, crossing 33 miles of one of the world’s roughest navigable channels. The competitors will need to combine endurance, strength, and technique equally along with surfing ability and ocean knowledge to even finish the race.

Karel Jr. in Maui Canoe & Kayak Race 5. Photo
courtesy Ropati Hebenstreit of Pacific Paddler.
Kai Bartlett in Jan 24 Leilani's Triangle Race,
David Beck, Kaua'i Hoe Wa'a Race 7, March 28,2004.
Photos by Makana Denton.
Danny Ching in Dana Outrigger Ocean Challenge

The 2003-2004 OC-1 season has been an unusually competitive one, with no one paddler dominating like in the past few years, which leaves this years solo race up for grabs. Four time solo winner, Karel Tresnak Jr., who won nearly every Kanaka Ikaika race last year, has had a relatively disappointing season due to the lack of surfing races, but probably remains this year’s top contender. His stiffest competition may come from 2002’s champion, Kai Bartlett. Many have ruled Bartlett out because of a hernia late in the season, but by paying attention to Bartlett’s pre-hernia race results, he seems to definitely still be a top contender. This year’s most consistent top finisher has been Mike Judd, and an impressive win in the Oahu Championships and again in the State Championships puts him in the small group of top contenders. A flat race could definitely put Judd into first place as Bartlett struggles with his fitness after taking such a long break for surgery and as Tresnak’s greatest strength, his amazing surfing ability, is compromised. Yet a flat race could also produce some other interesting results. California’s young prodigy, Danny Ching, will be competing in his first Solo crossing, and will definitely be in the winners’ circle following a flat race. Ching makes up for his lack of surfing experience with his incredible strength in the flats. Another top contender is Manny Kulukulualani with a surprise win early in the season and consistent top three finishes since. David Beck from Kauai, who after taking a ten year break, is back in the game and probably looking for a win. Beck is the veteran of the group, but he is equally fast in the flats and the surf, and will be in the top regardless of race day conditions. Aaron Napoleon ranks up there with David in all around skill level; ocean conditions seem to not matter for the amazing waterman and son of legendary steersmen Nappy Napoleon. A top three finish by Napoleon will surprise nobody, but he remains a relative wildcard. Kealii Paiaina, Maui Kjeldson, and Raven Aipa from Oahu will all definitely be at the top; with other top finishers including Steve Sinkus from California and Thibert Lussiaa from the Big Island.

Writer: Luke Evslin is an avid paddler from Kaua’i who now attends Claremont McKenna College in California. He paddled the solo in 2003 and is training for this year’s race on May 16th.

For more information on the race see the Moloka'i 2004 website

Be sure to check back here at for a pre race POLL!

Posted by keizo on Mon, 04/19/2004 - 12:00am


Another whole aspect to this year that wasn't mentioned and in reality could make quite a difference is all the new canoes. Aside from a few guys, every top placing finisher is on a different canoe than they were last year. Don't want to open up a can of worms here, but just something else to think about!

#1 Mon, 04/19/2004 - 1:27pm


Danny Ching wins it goin away. He is representing ALL so cal paddlers...the best in the world.

#2 Sat, 04/24/2004 - 11:31pm

Paper Writers I like these pictures!

#3 Mon, 02/28/2011 - 12:11am

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