Sadly, one of paddling’s ‘holy grail’ events won’t be running in 2022. PHOTOGRAPH: © Carter Johnson.


The Molokai Challenge, arguably surfski paddling’s most iconic race, has been cancelled for 2022.

The Kanaka Ikaika Racing Association confirmed the decision overnight, after weeks of speculation that the unfortunate outcome had been reached.

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

“We have all been yearning to race the world’s most enamoring, challenging, glorifying and daunting channel since the pandemic shut us down in 2020.” The Kanaka Ikaika Racing Association said in a statement.

“Since then, we have been very active looking into all the details that go into making this race work from sponsorship, securing permits, local community relations and more, trying to make a determination as to when and how we can get back to channel racing.  

“After careful evaluation of the situation and ensuing variables, we feel it is best not to try and shove a Molokai to Oahu crossing into our short term goals, but instead put our focus onto 2023 to bring the race back to life.”

“This event has persisted for nearly 50 years. So for the long term perpetuation, we will not be holding the 2022 Molokai Challenge.”

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

The Paddler understands that a lack of support from the community of Molokai was the biggest influence on the decision.

That raises questions over the future of the event, but the Kanaka Ikaika Racing Association is confident that the 52 kilometre channel crossing will return in 2023.

A race date of May 28 has already been announced, along with a major sponsorship from Australian firm Shaw and Partners Financial Services, setting the stage for what could well be one of the biggest years in the illustrious event’s history.

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

By that time, it will be four years since the last Molokai Challenge was held, which was won by South African Hank McGregor and Australian Jordan Mercer.

The Kanaka Ikaika Racing Association is planning to hold a downwind race along Oahu on May 29 to replace the Molokai crossing in 2022.

The exact course of that event is yet to be determined.