Iron-willed Aussies rule Molokai to Oahu paddle
FLYING fish and adverse currents conspired against new records but ironman Matt Bevilacqua and former Nutri-Grain ironwoman champion Harriet Brown toughed it out to defend their world titles in the infamous Molokai to Oahu paddleboard championships on Monday.
The 51.5km race across the 'Channel Of Bones' - the body of water between the Hawaiian Islands - has competitors battling wind, marine life, current and the worlds best paddlers.
But in an extraordinary show of power, Australian athletes filled the top seven places in the men's prone race with Brown, Sydney lifesaver Lizzie Welborn, young gun Maddison Spencer and reigning Nutri-Grain ironwoman champion Brielle Cooper filling the top four spots in the women's board paddling event.
"It was so tough out there. The hardest I have ever done and the girls were spent. They were out there like an hour longer than us and it was tough going,'' said Bevilacqua, who with mate Matt Poole is organising and competing in the Big Bash League-style World Ironman Series in Bali in August.
"We had a lowering tide for the second half of the race and at time it felt like we were going nowhere with the current.
"At 20km I was on world record pace and then it just blew out.''
Bevilacqua said he was relieved to have not experienced a shark sighting but said he had to dodge the odd flying fish during his trek.
"That was just weird,'' he said.
It was Bevilacqua's fourth straight win in the race and Brown's second after the pair both set world record times last year.
Bevilacqua finished well outside his PB of 4hr 29min 20sec in 5:05.27 with Brown also well outside her record time of 5:14:15 in 5:51.32.
The gruelling race for paddlers, SUPs and, for the first time this year, foiling boards, dates back to 1997 with Australians regular winners in the various divisions.
Australians also won the women's SUP class (Terrene Black, 5:25.27) and the men's division (Travis Grant 3:59:18).