Baxter wins Maui Jim Triple Crown of Stand-Up Paddle title

Connor Baxter, right, and Livio Menelau at the finish of the Mormali World Cup in Kaunakakai Harbor. Baxter won the race and Menelau placed third.

Connor Baxter, a 16-year-old towheaded Maui native, dominated all three legs of the Maui Jim Triple Crown of Stand-Up Paddle to win the coveted Koa trophy this weekend.

The inaugural year for the race series culminated Saturday afternoon in Kaunakakai Harbor with the Mormali World Cup, a grueling 27-mile downwind run across the Pai’lolo Channel starting in Honolua Bay on Maui. With the assistance of stiff tradewinds, Baxter completed the course in three hours, 10 minutes, 44 seconds.

(Click here to see a video of the final 1:24 of Connor’s victory)

Placing a close second in 3:11:37 was Dave Kalama. In third place was Livio Menelau in 3:19:04 followed by Mark Raaphorst in 3:27:09. These top four finishers also completed the overall Triple Crown in the same order.

Dave Kalama placed a close second in the Mormali World Cup, less than a minute after Baxter.

Immediately after the race, Baxter collapsed on his board in exhaustion and triumph. He admitted that this last race left him much more tired than the previous two.

However, Baxter did get plenty of help from the wind and waves in the second half of the race. “The closer I got to Molokai it got better and better. The swells got bigger and the wind got stronger,” said Baxter. “For a while all I was doing was surfing – hardly even paddling.” As the race progressed so did the wind speeds, from 8-12 mph to approximately 10-15 mph by the end.

Baxter won the first leg of the Triple Crown on July 3. He paddled from Maliko Gulch to Kahului Harbor on Maui in 1:10:03. The following week he won the second leg from Maliko Gulch to Honolua Bay in 3:25:53.

Andrea Moller-Bouwens won the Women’s Elite Division in 3:50:13. She also took the overall Triple Crown for the women, followed by Jenny Kalmback and Devin Blish in second and third respectively.

With a total of 44 racers in the final event, organizers called it “one of the best we have witnessed.” Congratulations to all the competitors!


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