Channel of Bones: Five things

The five toughest things about Hawaii’s gruelling 52km Molokai2Oahu paddle
Jordan Mercer in action © Stephen Baccon
By Josh Rakic

The five toughest things about Hawaii’s gruelling 52km Molokai2Oahu paddle

It’s this time every year that the world’s best watermen and women train with trepidation ahead of the deadly Hawaiian channel crossing known as Molokai2Oahu.

Not only do they have 55km of unpredictable swell to traverse and mother nature to contend with but also the unknown beasts that lurk beneath. And we’re not talking about the water photographers…
So as she prepares to defend her crown for a fourth time in an effort to claim her fifth consecutive prone win, we spoke with Jordie Mercer about the five toughest things of the Paddleboard World Championships.

1. The Preparation
The training and preparation, that must be the hardest of all. It’s grind time in the lead up. Long gruelling paddles and swim sessions daily. It’s almost tougher than the race itself. You have to commit to some pretty extreme preparation.

2. Logistics
Organising all of the logistics and making it safely to Molokai Island with your board, safety boat and captain all ready for race day is not easy!
Getting my 17foot paddleboard safely from Australia to Hawaii is always a worry. Then the board has to travel from Oahu to Molokai Island by boat.
Once you, your team, your boat, boat captain and your board have arrived on the shores of Molokai, you can rest up and mentally ready yourself for the big journey ahead. Nothing else can be done, it's show time.

3. The conditions
The body of water between Molokai and Oahu is called the Kaiwi Channel which means the channel of bones! It is known as one of the most treacherous bodies of water in the world. It is so unpredictable and so powerful. It’s all part of the challenge and it’s a big one!

4. The mind games
I find myself dealing with a mental and emotional roller coaster over the 5-6 hour paddle. Your mind can wonder, it can flip from positive to negative and it can influence how you feel physically. To survive you need to stay in the moment, work with the ocean wherever possible and fuel yourself with strong and positive thoughts.

5. The unknown
At times you are so alone out in the channel that you can't see any land, any competitors or boats! Not knowing where the finish is, where your competitors are or how your body will be handling things in an hour’s time is an intimidating experience. There are so many unknowns out there. Including what lies beneath.

The Molokai2Oahu Paddleboard champs will take place on July 26.

Want to experience the best of on the move? Get the app at

read more about
Next Story