This year, 2017, the Shearwater team showed up in Hawaii in force. Pat Shaughnessy, Nick Franco, Josh Ryan and Josh Pederson arrived in Oahu, along with a great crew of supporters of friends and family. Leading up to the last Sunday of July, the team got some final training in the water in and around their Hawaii Kai team house. They spent time checking out China Wall, and doing some Sandy Beach and Kahala runs with friends and mentors Keoni Watson and Billy Robello. Soaking up the warm weather and the warm water, the boys got acclimated to their new environs and readied themselves for what would turn out to be a great day of racing.
Flying over the Kaiwi Channel a couple of days before the race, the team was able to scope their potential lines and conditions for race day. From the air, the vastness of the channel became glaring and somewhat daunting, but the excitement and chatter grew within the tiny confines of the loud prop plane as Team Shearwater approached Ho’olehua Airport.
Two restless days passed slowly as the team did their best to relax, hydrate and minimize their anxious pacing. After attending the pre-race meeting at KaluaKoi, the team left the buzz and retreated to the team house for their final pre race dinner where final tips and strategies were discussed.
The 4am alarms came fast and before we knew it, it was go time. Boards littered the beach at KaluaKoi like pick up sticks and escort boats buzzed the shore looking for paddlers and their crews. Slightly organized chaos. Slightly.
The race was blessed with favorable winds and decent swell and the pack exploded North to South in the usual manner. Runners were everywhere and all the paddlers took advantage of the conditions. Nick Franco, paddling his 17’3” downwind prototype took a line just North of rum and was able to connect bump all the way to Portlock Point, occasionally clocking 10mph. Pat Shaughnessy on his Downwind 1 took a high North line. Meanwhile Team Josh (Pederson and Ryan) relayed along the rum line on their Shearwater Stock. In the end, Nick completed his 7th crossing in a row, finished 12th overall, was the first American finisher and won his age group for the second year in a row (5:41:18). Pat completed his first crossing and although taking a big course detour, finished 25th overall with a very solid time of 6:26:07. And Team Josh placed second in their age division with a time of 7:17:41. It was Ryan’s first crossing and Pederson’s 2nd. All will be back for more next year.
Huge thanks to the Franco family, the Shaugnessy family, Kyle Pederson, LJ and the Benson family, Keoni, Eliza, Eva and the rest of Watsons, Billy Robello, the always on it and reliable Keith Keahi and Trade Paddleboards for taking care of our boards.