From left, Shane White, Christian Cook, Dana Hart, and Patrick Klemawesch celebrate after completing the 2011 Molokai-2-Oahu race.
Six local athletes have qualified to compete in the Paddleboard World Championship, July 29 in Hawaii.
Christian Cook, 45 and Dana Hart, 44, of St. Petersburg return to compete in team crossings. They will be joined by first-time athletes Chad White, 46, of Seminole and Marc Shen, 41, of St Petersburg. Shane White, 43, from Hawaii and Kathleen Wallace, 44, from North Carolina will join their teams this year.
Patrick Klemawesch, 36, of Treasure Island, returns as a solo competitor for his third crossing.
Eric Shamas, 33, of St. Pete Beach, makes his debut as a solo competitor in the prone paddleboard division.
All competitors were selected based on times in local and regional races.
Klemawesch is a two-time Florida state champion and 2011 East Coast champion in the Men’s SUP Unlimited class. Shamas is the 2011 East Coast champion in the Men’s 14-feet and under class.
All athletes have trained exceptionally hard in preparation for the World Championship race. Balance, endurance, strength, and ability to navigate hazardous water conditions are all necessary elements for competitors.
The Molokai-2-Oahu Paddleboard World Championship is recognized as one of the world’s most challenging tests for endurance and courage. Covering 32 miles of open ocean, over 250 competitors will cross the Ka’iwi Channel from the North Shore of Molokai to the south shore of Oahu, under their own power on prone paddleboards or stand-up paddleboards.
The fastest athletes complete the crossing in just under five hours, facing treacherous currents, powerful swells and a depth of nearly one kilometer. Paddlers can ride swells for hundreds of yards. Competitors can choose to race as a solo paddler or as part of a team in either the unlimited class (no size limit and with a movable rudder system) or stock class (12 feet or under for paddleboard, 14 feet or under in SUP with fixed rudder).