Current list of registered racers:
Three days out and the wind looks to be generally unfavorable. Unless the god of the wind, changes his mind, racers will have their work cut out for them this Sunday.
Bearing this in mind, here are our picks for the top five:
1. Sean Rice
2. Cory Hill
3. Jasper Mocke
4. Hank McGregor
5. Clint Robinson
32 miles out in the open ocean is not your average trip down the creek. At these distances, an entirely new dynamic is at work. This is a war of attrition. It’s all about how much tenacity you can withdraw while in the pain cave. Ultra-marathon distances require something special from competitors. You don’t show up for just another day in the office for this caliber of a gruel-fest. The bigger guys are going to suffer more. Ever see a big Kenyan win the New York marathon? Not likely. Even the generally bigger ski paddlers often arrive at Molokai trimmed down for battle.
The top five picks are mostly interchangeable. All are dangerous, proven winners. Ultimately, it comes down to who wants it the most---and that’s where it get’s interesting.
Sean Rice: In spite of being one of the most successful racers over the past few years, a win in the big show has so far eluded Rice---and he knows it. He’s hungry for it and has been eyeballing it like a border collie looks at a tennis ball. Sean is a big guy, but his weight is down and the svelte version will be a handful in this war of attrition. In spite of his travelling, he has been vigilant about getting on the water for his sessions. Make no mistake, Rice is all-in for this one.
Cory Hill: Hill has been on fire. He knows how to win at Molokai as well after breaking into a very select winner’s circle last year. If he shows up at the start, you can believe he’ll be on the podium if not the top step. Whatever his magical formula to win has been, he has clearly found something that works. An adage I’ve found to be true is that once you experience a win, you develop a taste for it, and anything less is first loser. Hill has a taste for it and will be hard to beat come race day.
Jasper Mocke: Having a breakout of his own a few years back, Mocke has been putting in high volume sessions in preparation for 2016. These types of sessions often leave a competitor in one of two states: honed and ready to go or depleted and overtrained. My guess is that an experienced paddler such as Mocke, knows his body well enough to not show up in the latter condition. A win in Molokai has also so far remained absent for Jasper as well, he’ll be ready to leave it all out there in the middle of the Pacific to get past the others.
Hank McGregor: One of the most decorated and well established surfski racers ever! What more can you say? He’s won it all at one time or another. He never shows up come race day without being the top pick for the win. No exception here. However, is he as hungry on this day as the others? Hard to say. If he is, then he’s in for the top spot. If not, he’s still good for a top five or even a top three. Too much talent and hard work over the years not to be a threat overall.
Clint Robinson: Similar to McGregor, always in for the top spot. Has won it all. Extraordinarily strong paddler. You don’t beat a Greg Barton in his prime without being a powerhouse. Don’t let his age fool you. He’s still the Man. Also similar to Mcgregor, if he’s hungry for it, he’s in for the top spot.
Others to Watch:
Oscar Chalupsky: The man can read the water like nobody’s business. He knows how to win and stay in the mix. Yeah, he’s in his 50’s now, which I personally think has him more motivated. Dangerous, especially if the wind is favorable.
Carter Johnson: One of America’s best and has good experience in the rough.
Tom Schilperoort: Strong Paddler with a good deal of experience and high finishes among top paddlers.
Herman Chalupsky: Former winner can mix it up with the best if them.
Greg Barton: He's Greg Barton...
So, who ya got?