Sunshine Coast ironman and Coolum Surf Club administrator Hayden Smith won the Honolua Ocean Paddle at the Gold Coast last weekend.
The 27-year-old mastered the wild seas better than the elite field from Snapper Rocks to Currumbin Creek to not only record a breakthrough win, but eclipse favourite Jamie Mitchell’s race record.
Mitchell, who has won the 51km Oahu to Molokai Channel crossing six consecutive times, was forced out of the 8.5km slice of ocean agony with a broken rudder on his board while heading to the start line.
Smith milked the big ocean runners for all they were worth to beat the 2007 race record of 49 minutes and 20 seconds, crossing the line in a super-fast time of 47 minutes and 50 seconds.
He was just ahead of Currumbin’s Nathan Henderson and former Molokai champion Mick Dibetta of Burleigh.
Smith yesterday said he was only slightly sore from his big effort and described this short and sharper event nothing like the world of pain that he has experienced in three Molokai championship paddles.
“It is one of the toughest open water crossings in the world – doing the Coolangatta Gold seems easy compared to it,” Smith said.
The only sore point with Smith was the fact that some may devalue the win because Currumbin’s Mitchell missed the start.
“I would have preferred to have him in the race ... I did break his race record and you can only beat those you come up against in the race.”
“Things were really wild out there today,” he said.
“I’ve paddled the Molokai race three times and the runners I was getting out there today were pretty similar.
“It was pretty hard getting out at Snapper at first because it was pretty big on the 18-foot boards. But I managed to keep my board, get some long runners and finish in first. I’m over the moon.”
While some of his fellow ironmen are looking forward to a short winter break, Smith has been training full-on for to compete in the World Lifesaving Championships in Germany, where he will compete in multiple events including the ironman.
Then he will return after a short stint of rest and relaxation in Paris and London to train for the Gold and intends to compete in the Molokai marathon race again next year.
Smith has finished first in the Molokai teams event while his best result is an individual fifth placing. Paddleboards are streamlined, specialised boards that are designed to ride open ocean swells and are propelled surfboard style in either prone or kneeling position.
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