Red Beach lifeguard Daniel Cairns paddled into second place in the under-29 category at the recent Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard World Championships for 2018.
Held in Hawaii on 29 July, the endurance race saw around 150 men and women from 17 countries pit themselves against powerful currents and surf for hundreds of metres while crossing the 51.5km of treacherous open ocean known as the Ka'iwi channel, or the Channel of Bones.
Competing in the Stock class and using a 12' board, it took Daniel 6:36.06 hours to make the crossing. There were also categories for 18’ boards as well as SUP (stand-up paddleboards). The overall race was won by Australia's Matt Bevilacqua.
At the start of the race at Molokai, favourable winds appeared to be creating promising conditions for contestants, however, the Ka’iwi’s fickle personality created a puzzle board of mixed swells for them to navigate.
“At times it felt like you were going slower than if the channel crossing was flat,” said Daniel.
“You’d catch a runner and then hit a bump which made you feel like you weren’t catching anything. The mid-channel waves were cresting more than 12’,” he added.
Nevertheless, he found it to be a great experience and is keen to compete on an 18’ prone board in the future.
In the build-up to the event, Daniel had a training regime which, on four mornings each week, comprised of pool swimming, road running and gym sessions. On four afternoons - Monday to Thursday - he had a steady build-up to 40km of paddling of around four hours duration.
With strong support from back home – Sonic Surfcraft played a key role - he was able to raise the $10,000 cost to be able to compete in the challenge. Half the amount was self-funded.
Daniel is now gearing up for the 2018-19 surf lifesaving season.