Molokai2Oahu Paddleboard Championship
Established in 1997, the Moloka'i-2-O'ahu Paddleboard World Championship is the world's most challenging paddle race. The 32-mile race that begins on the northwest shore of the island of Moloka'i and ends in Maunalua Bay on O'ahu, is known as the fastest downwind route in the world. Men and women challengers from 20 countries must harness huge swell, navigate the Moloka'i channel (also known as "the Channel of Bones," and mentally compete for over five hours. And this year, for the first time, an elite group of standup paddleboard (SUP) athletes competed for the title on hydrofoil technology. Ok, have I convinced you to sign up yet?
The point is, this race is no joke and I was thrilled to be able to create the art to embody this year's competition. I set out to capture two things – the iconic experience of the event through the visualization of determined competitors and the heavy water of the "Channel of Bones." The deep greens add to the magnificence and depth of the channel and provide a sense of the unknown. Each athlete embarks on a personal journey during the race, so I was honored to contribute to their accomplishment this year.
And if you look closely at the top of this piece, masked in the clouds, you'll also see a subtle map of the islands and the Ka'iwi Channel.
The art was used in many contexts from race gear to posters and medals, but one of the most unique use cases was on the M20 commemorative fins, awarded to each solo and two-person category winner.
“This is one of the coolest fins we have made so far and we love the way Nick’s work transferred to this year’s design for M2O,” said Futures Founder Vince Longo. “These fins will turn into collector’s items as only a few will earn the piece as part of their prize package.”
The competition was stiff this year, even involving some of the island's favorite surfers, like Kai Lenny and John John Florence. Everyone from the athletes to the staff, boat captains, and volunteers were decked out in performance gear for the event.
And of course we can't forget the reward at the end of it all. Bragging rights, an immense sense of personal accomplishment, and some pretty sick medals.
Mahalo again to the organizers of the Moloka'i-2-O'ahu Paddleboard Championship for inviting me to create the art for this year's contest. This is the kind of work that I'm most inspired to create, so it was an immense pleasure.
Photography by Andrew Rizer.