B.C. standup paddleboarders race across Hawaii’s Channel of Bones

Resident paddleboarder Bodie Shandro will trade the calm waters of Heffley Lake for Hawaii’s big waves at the 15th Annual Moloka`i 2 Oahu Paddleboard race on July 31. Shandro will compete in the two-man division with Norm Hann, a paddleboarder who lives in Squamish.

The race will involve crossing the treacherous Moloka`i Channel. Known as the “Channel of Bones”, it’s considered one of the most perilous bodies of water in the world, even claiming the life of renowned Hawaiian big wave surfer Eddie Aikau.

“It’s 2,300 feet deep, shark-infested and considered one of the roughest open channels in the world. To me, it’s my Mt. Everest,” said Shandro.

Contestants will paddle downwind through 51 kilometres of open ocean from the north shore of Moloka`i to the south shore of Oahu. The race features solo, two-man and three-man categories in two divisions: standup paddleboard (SUP) or prone paddleboard.

The fastest SUP team last year made it in about five hours. This year’s SUP teams will be limited to shorter, rudderless boards.

“It’d be great to finish in around that six-hour mark,” said Shandro.

Shandro and Hann met last year when Shandro became one of Hann’s sponsors for StandUp4Greatbear, a 400 kilometre expedition through the Great Bear Rainforest. It brought awareness to the threat of an oil sands pipeline that Enbridge wants to build along B.C.’s coastline. Completed by Hann in 10 days, the trip stretched from Kitimat to Bella Bella, Enbridge’s proposed oil tanker route.

Standup4Greatbear is now a non-profit organization that helps protect the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, and the habitat of the rare white spirit bear. The team hopes to raise awareness and funds through the race.

As for the race, both can barely wait for July.

Shandro said he’ll definitely need to adapt to Hawaii’s dynamic water. “My training has been limited pretty much to Heffley Lake. (So the challenge is) dealing with 20 to 30 foot swells in the open ocean,” said Shandro.

“I’m excited to paddle with Bodie. He’s a great ambassador for the sport,” Hann said. “What excites me personally is the challenge of this race, having it via 32-mile distance.”

For more information, visit www.molokai2oahu.com. For paddleboarding lessons, call Bodie at 250-318-0722. To donate to Standup4Greatbear, visit www.standup4greatbear.ca.

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