Molokai 2 Oahu - Tips and Inspiration from Carter Graves

[Cali Paddler is always inspired by those who take on big challenges in paddling, and share their experiences with the rest of us, so that we can succeed in our own challenges and push the envelope in paddling.  We recently reached out to Carter Graves, 2-time Molokai 2 Oahu Prone Champion in women's open stock division, and asked her to share with us her biggest take-aways from this race. So that perhaps more of us here, can someday accomplish such great feats. Thank you Carter! ~CP ]

Just a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii and compete in the Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships.   This was my third crossing and each of those times I have raced on a 12-foot (stock) prone paddleboard.   For those who don’t know, the Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships is an annual paddleboard race (both prone and SUP) in the month of July covering the 32 mile Ka’iwi Channel in Hawaii from the island of Molokai to the island of Oahu.  This channel is also known as the “Channel of Bones” for its unpredictable and wild conditions that have also defined the challenge of this race.

Carter Graves Molokai 2 Oahu 2017

For me, the unpredictable and crazy nature of the conditions attracts me even more to come race M2O.  The crossing is so much more than a race, but an opportunity and challenge to test not only your physical capabilities, but your mental and psychological as well. I have learned so many things through my three crossings that I have been able to relate to the rest of my life. 

First, the race has taught me to stay PRESENT.   A paddler can do all the training in the world, but without the ability to stay in the moment and adapt to the present situation, the training will go out the window.   Every year the conditions are different, and no one really knows until race day what the channel will bring.  The channel has taught me to adapt to whatever it is doing and to flow, not fight, in these conditions.  I have been able to use this experience and relate it to other situations in my life where I must stay calm and present to be at my best.

Carter Graves Molokai 2 Oahu 2017 Passing Diamond Head

Second, the crossing has made me appreciate TEAMWORK and COMMUNITY.  Although you are paddling alone from one island to another, there is so much teamwork that is involved in this race from your boat escort, your nutrition swimmer, to the other paddlers who help you evaluate race day conditions.  Community is one of my favorite aspects of this race, as you get to share this experience with a hundred plus of your best friends who also love the ocean as much as you do.  One of my favorite memories is the pre-race prayer on Molokai where all the paddlers hold hands and bless our crossing.  There is something extremely special about sharing this journey with all these other like-minded people.  I have been able to use my experiences in M2O to help me appreciate my community back in Southern California and encourage others to pursue their dreams and passions. 

Lastly, the race has taught me that YOU CAN DO ANYTHING you put your heart and soul into.  I come from a pool swimming background where I grew up landlocked for much of my life in Arizona.  I would have never imagined in a million years I would be in Hawaii racing in the Molokai 2 Oahu three times, and even more so have won my division one of those times and finish 2nd in the other two.  After moving to the coast at age 20 I fell in love with the sport of paddling, and the last five years I have done everything to follow this passion.  I am so grateful for all the opportunities that paddling has given me, and the people that I have been able to meet and call my friends. 

Carter Graves Molokai 2 Oahu 2017 2nd place

Crossing the Ka’iwi Channel is something that I would recommend to every paddler to put on his or her short or long term goal list.  Not only is there a race for paddleboards, but at other times of the year there are crossings for surfskis and outriggers.  Whatever craft you may choose to compete in, solo, team, or relay, this experience will redefine your life.  

Cali Paddler Team Writer Carter Graves

Team Writer Carter Graves - Carter is a beach lifeguard, personal trainer, paddle board instructor, fitness model, and athlete from Coronado California. Since moving to Southern California a few years back the rhythms of the ocean have dictated her life as she enjoys a wide variety of ocean activities including not only paddling, but surfing, swimming, and body surfing.

Carter has proven herself in the last few years as one of the top female prone paddlers in the world. She has won several major races including the prone stock division in the Molokai 2 Oahu World Championships and the 32 mile Catalina Classic (where she also holds the women’s record). Carter was also a member of the 2015 Team USA Gold Medal performance at the ISA World Paddleboard and SUP Championships.

Carter now takes on a new challenge in the world of SUP as she has started racing this last year. She hopes to be competing next to the best female SUP athletes in the years to come as well as continue keeping a strong showing in prone paddling.

Carter is a huge advocated of health and fitness, and also has done work in the fitness modeling world. She represents several top paddling and fitness brands including Oakley, Jolyn Clothing, BioAstin, Surftech, Joe Bark Paddleboards, and Quickblade Paddles. She hopes to combine her passion for paddling and fitness to inspire others to follow their own passions and live a healthy lifestyle. You can follow Carter’s journey or reach out to her on her instagram page @charger_carter or on her website

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