Dean Gardner is looking for that perfect 10.
Clint Robinson is going for two.
And Lauren Spalding Bartlett is making the crossing for the second time in four weeks.
The three headline the field for Sunday’s Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation Molokai World Championships. The 35th annual surfski race from Molokai to Oahu begins at 11 a.m. at Kepuhi Beach and finishes in the Hawaii Kai Towne Center marina.
Among the 57 individual and four two-person surfskis are 38-year-old defending champion and Olympic gold medalist Robinson, the Australian surfski champion nine of the past 10 years; 46-year-old Gardner, the nine-time winner who missed out on his 10th by 4 minutes last year when bested by his fellow Australian Robinson; and Bartlett, the defending women’s champion who successfully repeated her title in the Steinlager Kaiwi Channel Solo OC1 Championships on April 17.
Also back in the international field are two-time winner Lewis Laughlin of Tahiti, South African Schilenport and Maui’s Kai Bartlett, last month’s overall OC1 champion.
Among the changes this year is a new title sponsor (ODKF) and new organizing group (Hawaii Canoe/Kayak Team)
The event is a fundraiser for HCKT, which has a number of U.S. national team paddlers on its roster. Finish-line festivities begin at 9 a.m. with a paddlethon open to any type of water craft.
The first paddlers are expected around 2:30 p.m. Gardner set the course record of 3 hours, 21 minutes and 26 seconds in 1997.