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Published on June 10th, 2010 | by Peter Ekström

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Clint Robinson – “Well Worth the Wait”

Chris Laughlin, webmaster at Epic Kayaks gave me permission to publish  this article with Molokai Champion Clint Robinson. The article is posted on the Epic website as well.

Well Worth the Wait

Australia’s Clint Robinson: Olympic Champion, Surf Lifesaving Champion, and now, Molokai Surfski Champion. Clint paddled the Epic V12 Elite to the 2010 title.

 

Congratulations on your 1st Molokai title. You’ve had an accomplished paddling career, how does this win rank in your list of victories?

To give perspective when answering this question I must include my history in this event, which will allow people a clear understanding of how important it was to me. I have competed in this race six times over 21 years, and finally was able to win the event in 2010.

I regard Molokai to be that greatest ocean marathon ski event in the world by far. The race takes into account everything you need to be successful in open ocean marathon paddling. It also allowed me to fulfill my dream of holding three world titles in paddling sports – sprint kayaking, surf life saving sprint racing and ocean ski marathon racing.

 

Is most of your paddling done in a surfski these days? Are you focused on more surfski titles, including another Molokai? How much of your focus is now on lifeguard competitions vs. open water downwind races?

Most of the training I do these days is with the athletes that I train at the Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club, as I am the Head Coach there. I don’t have the opportunity to race in any sprint surf life saving (lifeguard) competitions due to the number of people I am looking after. I would certainly love the opportunity in the future to compete at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships if time allows, but only time will resolve the outcome!

I would certainly love to do more Molokai channel crossings and have a real go for the record sometime in the future. This year’s event was about making sure I have won the race rather than going for the record. I spoke with Oscar Chalupsky prior to the race and this was one great piece of advice he gave, which I thought of many times during the event.

I hope to be able to attend some other international open water races in the coming future, as long as I have the opportunity to train and prepare as I know I must to be competitive.

Many paddlers expressed that conditions for the 2010 Molokai race were terrific, with good wind and surfing conditions. How did you feel the V12 handled the course?

The conditions in this year’s race were a lot of fun! They certainly weren’t big but with the angle of the swell and the 15-18 knot wind, it provided plenty of surfing challenges. The V12 performed exactly how I expected it to in these conditions, and with 45 minutes to go, when I decided to put the pedal down coming into Coco Head, the guys on the support boat said the ski looked fantastic and very alive in the turbulent, rebounding, washing machine chop & swell that the conditions ended up being.

This ski has great attitude when the swell and wind is cranking! The bigger & wilder it gets, the more I love paddling it. I pray for the day Molokai will be 10 foot swell and 25-30 knot winds and I can’t wait for this opportunity to arise, as the ski will provide one awesome ride!

Having paddled the V12 in all conditions, do you find it to be a strong ”all-round” style surfski, meaning it performs well in all conditions? Where do you think it really excels?

I have paddled the V12 for over 18 months and have certainly had the chance to paddle it in nearly every condition possible. I trained a lot for this year’s race early in the morning in the flat water with some other ocean skis and K1’s. The flat water speed of this boat is as fast as anything I have paddled with and against.

Over the last year I have been able to do numerous downwind sessions in some fairly big and wild weather and I absolutely get a real buzz on this ski in these conditions. It has so much hull speed and is ready to attack when you drop a bucket load of power into the mix. One interesting fact about the V12 is I have not been able to find its maximum hull speed, where I find it quite consistently on the V10. This is understood when flying down big ocean swells; that is why I much prefer the V12 over the V10.

Mandatory training question: How often do you paddle on the sea? How much distance do you typically put into a standard surfski session? What is your ratio of paddling on flat water vs. paddling in the ocean?

I try to make sure in training that I at least get a 50/50 ratio of flat water to open ocean paddling. This is because you must have the skills when racing in the ocean, but you also need the work ethic that is achieved with flat water training. For me I have paddled for 22 years in the flat water mainly due to kayaking, so I love getting out in the ocean for the challenges and the learning experiences it provides me. The average surfski session goes for about 75-90 minutes and covers anywhere from 15-20km, depending on the intensity.

What will be your next big race? Will you continue to travel for races this year, or do you plan to stay in Australia for the rest of the season?

I would certainly like to compete in some other big events this year, but my job and family dictate what options I have for training, travel and racing. There are many events in the world that I would like to compete in, but also there are many other events that I’m not so interested in due to the courses that the race is set over.

I continue to paddle for the love and thrill of it, not for money or ego. So the course, conditions and competitors in the event is what stimulates my needs of challenges and competition. I believe the new international body needs to have a serious look at the future of ocean racing, and its current events as there are some fantastic opportunities out there.

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