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Annabel Anderson and James Casey Win the 2017 OluKai Ho’olaule’a

Kiwi Annabel Anderson and Australian James Casey both took their inaugural OluKai Ho’olaule’a wins today on the north shore of Maui in a strange, wet and windy race.

Race organizers postponed the race yesterday—which is usually a joyful downwinder from Maliko Gulch to Kanaha Beach Park— due to heavy winds and rain, hoping that this morning would be a little friendlier. That was not to be. Organizers consulted with the likes of Danny Ching, Andrea Moller, Travis Grant and Connor Baxter to come up with a solution; they settled on a six-mile course race on the inside of the reefs at Kanaha. Even that turned out to be too much with the weather this morning. Head of safety Archie Kalepa made the right call to run a three-mile course before the racers took off at nine into 15-20 mile-per-hour onshore winds.

“That was tricky,” Casey said with a big Aussie smile. “It was crosswind pretty much the whole way. You headed up and you thought, ‘OK, I’m punching into the wind and the way back would be downwind.’ You turned the can and it was still real technical crosswind.”

Casey won the Paddle IMUA race last year in eerily similar conditions and is quickly making himself known as a threat when the ocean is unruly. That, and he raved about unlimited, dugout-cockpit Sunova board. “I was catching bumps going upwind,” he said.

Anderson—who was riding a similar board to Casey—is also no slouch when it comes to paddling in weather, either.

“This a standard day of summer’s racing in New Zealand this year,” she said. “We had so many tropical storms and cyclones come down and it was victory at sea. Good preparation for OluKai 2017 today!”

Men’s Top Five
James Casey – 37:12
Danny Ching – 37:48
Travis Grant – 38:33
Mo Freitas – 39:41
Connor Baxter – 40:33

Women’s Top Five
Annabel Anderson – 44:14
Sonni Honscheid – 45:12
Jade Howson – 51:20
Kali’a Alexiou – 52:31
Andrea Moller – 53:40