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The Inertia

This is Zane Kekoa Schweitzer on the Pailolo Channel, between Maui and Molokai, during the Maui to Molokai Challenge last week. And this foil thing, in open ocean channels, is really changing the sport of downwind paddling. SUPs and prone boards are built for downwind runs–paddling from point A to point B, surfing open-ocean swell. But the optics aren’t always there. You can see the glides but the look certainly isn’t as dynamic as foiling.

And the race times on foil boards across open channels are increasingly putting other methods to shame. Schweitzer apparently started later than all the other paddlers and easily caught the pack, according to his brother, Matty, who shot this piece (Zane participated in the event but his crossing was an exhibition as his times didn’t count).

But it increasingly looks as though race organizers will shift their rules to accommodate the new method, according to Schweitzer (we’ll be talking to the Molokai2Oahu organizers later this week). “Back in 2008 and before, Maui to Molokai was a windsurfing competition,” Schweitzer told me. “I was the first person to stand-up paddle the channel in competition that year. I had some deja vu this year with hyrdofoiling. I made the decision to foil it 10 minutes before the start of the race.”

Schweitzer thinks it’s only a matter of time before races start encouraging the new sport: “I think the same thing will happen at this point in time with hydrofoiling (as with stand-up paddling),” he added. “Hyrdofoiling will take over these channel crossing events in the next few years and maybe even for the events later this season.”

Check out the fluidity. Open ocean paddling is a fun sport to participate in. But non-paddlers often have a tough time understanding it from an aesthetics standpoint. It just doesn’t look that cool. Foiling could definitely change that mindset.



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