Mo Freitas and Terrene Black Win the Maui PRO-AM
After two days of racing between some earth’s fastest paddlers, the first race event of the 2017 APP World Tour season—the Maui Pro-Am—ended with Oahu’s dynamic upstart Mo Freitas and the Australian powerhouse Terrene Black taking home the overall event Titles.
The event kicked off with flawless conditions greeting competitors for the sprint races at Ho’okipa Beach Park. The sport’s top athletes battled through two-lap heats in and out through head-high surf that held strong throughout the day, with standout performances coming from Denmark’s perpetual title contender Casper “The Viking” Steinfath and Australian surf star Terrene Black to earn them victories in the first event of the Maui Pro-Am.
Other highlights in the sprint races came from the star-studded Hawaiian contingent, representing their territory in stellar fashion with Mo Freitas and Connor Baxter taking home second and third in the men’s division respectively, and current racing world champion Fiona Wylde finishing third behind the youngest female contender in the bunch, 15-year-old Annie Reickert.
Day Two welcomed the second event of the Maui Pro-Am, an eight-mile distance race on Maui’s famous Downwind Run from Maliko Gulch to the finish at Kanaha Beach Park. The day’s race was preceded by a youth Supsquatch race at Kanaha Beach, where the island’s community gathered to watch the future of the sport pile onto two massive inflatables with eight kids to a board for a race around an offshore buoy and back through the finish line at Kanaha.
By early afternoon, the excitement was peaking in Maliko Gulch as the APP World Tour athletes lined up for the start of the distance race. The Maliko is widely known as the best downwind run on earth with the Maui trade winds supplying world-class conditions for bump riding.
However, today those trade winds were nowhere to be found, and as the contenders filed out of the Gulch into the open Pacific for the start hardly a whisper of wind was present to help propel them down the coast to Kanaha. These conditions made for an all-out flatwater endurance grind in sweltering heat, as well as an immaculate setting that showcased the incredible fitness of these paddlers as well as the pristine beauty of Maui.
The performance of the day came from Australian dynamo Michael Booth, whose unparalleled athleticism inserted him at the lead of the pack from the start. Booth opted for an inside line and hugged the coastline in hopes of catching some bumps in the shallows.
Meanwhile, Maui favorite Connor Baxter assumed second position among the men with Mo Freitas close behind in 3rd, and that remained the hierarchy through to the finish. With Freitas finishing second in the sprints and third in the distance race, and Baxter finishing third in the sprints and second in the distance race, the tiebreaker came down to the increased points weighting of the sprint race, placing Freitas in the top position overall with Baxter runner-up.
Casper “The Viking” Steinfath filled out the last position on the overall podium, finishing seventh in the distance race following his first-place victory in sprint races.
Among the women, three-time Molokai 2 Oahu champion Sonni Hönscheid got out ahead early in the glassy conditions and used her veteran knowledge and sheer strength to hold that position to the finish.
Behind her, Fiona Wylde sported her yellow champion’s jersey in the second position for a well-earned runner-up finish in the women’s distance race. Yesterday’s sprint race victor Terrene Black drove across the finish in third place for the top overall performance of the event, claiming the Maui Pro-Am overall title ahead of overall women’s second-place contender Fiona Wylde and third-place finisher Sonni Hönscheid.