The weight of the Hawaiian Islands lifted from Jamie Mitchell's shoulders today when he crossed the finish line of the 32-mile Molokai-to-Oahu world championship race in record time, claiming his 10th consecutive world paddleboard title. Mitchell, 34, (Queensland, Australia) shaved eight minutes off the course record that he posted back in 2007, clocking a new fastest time of 4 hours, 30 minutes and 41 seconds.
"I feel like the weight of the entire Hawaiian Island chain has lifted from me," said a pumped up Mitchell at the finish. "It's done."
It was an emotional and relieving victory that bookended a decade of perfection for Mitchell. It also puts him on par with fellow Quiksilver teammate Kelly Slater, a 10-time world champion of surfing and one of the only human beings on the planet who can comprehend the dedication and commitment such a sporting feat demands. Slater was among the first to praise Jamie's accomplishment today:
"Jamie has set a bar that few, if any, athletes have set in their careers," said Slater. "Ten straight years of doing anything is impressive. To beat the world's best paddlers time and again in treacherous, unpredictable conditions is inspiring and unbelievable."
Conditions for today's race were tough and somewhat chaotic with cross-diagonal swells of up to six feet. Relatively weak trade winds didn't offer much assistance, but an incoming tide made the course surprisingly fast.
"Epic!" said Mitchell. "I can't believe it was that fast. Conditions weren't that great, but the current was good. Sometimes the wind felt like it was barely blowing at all. It was pretty hard, you had to work for the (wave) runs. Even though the wind wasn't that great, thankfully it never got really ugly like it can get. I actually got some of my longest glides in that last six miles, which is usually the worst. I didn't realize how fast it was until they told me the time."
Mitchell may never be beaten, announcing today that this would likely be his last Molokai crossing as we know it; it's time to retire the magical "green machine" paddleboard that has taken him to the past five world titles.
"Go out at the top," said Mitchell with a smile. "It's time for a new challenge. I've worked hard to get this. Ten years is a long time. It's time to chase something new."
But before tackling his next 'Everest', it's time to finally take his new wife Jocelyn on the honeymoon that has been on hold for three months while he pursued his 10th world title. After that, he will lend his support to Slater as head of water safety at the upcoming Quiksilver Pro New York, September 1-15.
Mitchell is one of the world's leading watermen and star athlete of the Quiksilver Waterman Collection team. In addition to being the 10X world paddleboard champion, he is also a decorated big-wave rider, tow-in surfer, and stand-up paddler.