Local man finishes paddleboard race of 32 miles in Hawaii

Don Alderman, 45, of Johns Island, completed his second consecutive Molokai 2 Oahu World Paddleboard Championship Race in 7:01:08. Alderman finished 15th overall and fifth in his age group.

For the second consecutive year, a local investment manager has finished the grueling 32-mile Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships — considered to be paddleboarding’s most prestigious race — on Sunday in Hawaii.

Don Alderman, 45, of Johns Island, completed the 19th annual race in 7 hours, 1 minute and 8 seconds. The prone paddler, who propels himself with his hands and arms and not with a paddle, was 15th overall and fifth in his age group among a field of athletes who hail mostly from Hawaii, Australia and California.

Alderman’s time was more than 41 minutes slower than last year’s race, which he said was due to tough conditions. Paddleboard races usually benefit from a downwind, or tailwind, but that was lacking Sunday.

“It (Sunday’s race) was one of the top three hardest crossing in history, according to some of the older locals,” said Alderman.

“There literally was almost no wind and very few runners (waves) to catch, so you couldn’t surf the waves across the channel. You literally had to paddle the whole time to propel yourself. Times on average were an hour slower than last year.”

Then, after grinding out 30 miles, Alderman and other paddlers had to deal with unusually large waves coming into the final two miles.

“There was a huge south swell hitting Oahu, which is where the race ends. We paddlers paddle into a bay through a channel to the beach. The swell was so big that we had 10-foot waves breaking or closing out the channel,” said Alderman.

“It was the hardest, most grueling paddle of my life,” said Alderman, adding that several world class stand-up paddleboard competitors had to quit the race due to cramping caused by the heat.

“There were times that I was wondering if I was going to finish. My shoulder after five hours of non-stop paddling was killing me, although I was using proper technique but still had two hours to go. But I am very happy I finished.”

When asked if he planned to return to race in 2016, Alderman didn’t hesitate for a second, saying that he would indeed go back.

Reach David Quick at 937-5516.