On Sunday a select group of the world’s top watermen and women will brave the elements of the North Pacific in the iconic Molokai Challenge ocean crossing.
The 52km race begins on Molokai, an island in the Hawaiian chain between Maui and Honolulu.
Skiers and paddleboarders cross the Kawai Channel, which in Hawaiian means “Channel of Bones”, to the island of Oahu, made famous by the heaving surf that explodes along its North Shore.
Among them will be Bond alumnus Joe Collins.
And following his progress with envy will be the university’s newest surf star and Collins’ Northcliffe Surf Club and Bond Swimming squad teammate Ruby Meehan.
It’s been four years since the race was last held, thanks to the global pandemic. In that time Meehan has evolved from an enthusiastic nipper to one of the rising stars of Ironwoman.
She spent time at Mowbray Park-Burleigh Heads and Currumbin surf clubs before making the switch to Northcliffe.
She announced herself this summer by winning the Next Gen Series to earn a start on next year’s Nutri Grain Series.
“I’ve been involved in surf sports since I moved to the Gold Coast when I was nine,” she said.
“I moved to Northcliffe when I decided I wanted to take it more seriously.
“I train with a lot of the girls who are already in the Nutri Grain Series and that really motivated me to make it.”
Her primary school mates from Dubbo barely get to see the beach let alone dream of extreme ocean racing, but for Meehan it’s the love of waves that keeps her focussed on surf events rather than following others into Olympic-class paddling sports.
She’s no stranger to endurance racing, having placed sixth in the elite open division of the 46.6km Coolangatta Gold last year while still just 17 years of age.
“This year will be my first season on the Nutri Grain series and getting enough results to requalify is the first goal,” she said.
“I really like distance events and ski is my favourite leg of the Ironwoman racing so I’d like to do the Coolangatta Gold again.
“It was 20 weeks of really hard training and the race itself is gruelling, but I really enjoyed it.
“But what I really dream of doing is the Molokai Challenge.”
It all points to a busy life for the 18-year-old who has enrolled in Biomedical Science with a long-term goal of becoming a doctor.
“I started swimming at Bond with Kyle (Director of Swimming Kyle Samuelson) and the surf squad to improve my swimming for the Ironwoman and I really love it,” she said.
“So I was familiar with Bond before I started last week.
“I’ve only had the week of classes and I’m just loving it: the classes, the teachers the whole campus environment.’’