A YEAR after taking the paddleboarding world by storm with a world-record performance in her maiden Molokai- to-Oahu race, Noosa's Jordan Mercer is eyeing off her second tilt at the gruelling 51km event.
The 19-year-old has come a long way since the breakthrough victory, posting a career-best Ironwoman Series result of fourth and winning a swag of medals at the Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard World Championships.
But she knows she will have to draw on every ounce of experience when she tackles the "channel of bones" on July 29.
Matt Johnston caught up with Jordie this week.
What is the feeling like, going into this year's event compared to last year?
Last year was my first and I guess I was the underdog going into Molokai. But thinking about the race this year, I'm almost more nervous because I know the pain I'm about to go through. It's a bit scary.
How do you work through that pain in the middle of the open ocean?
It's super tough and it's probably the main component when it comes to the training sessions and the preparation in the lead-up to these big events. I've got to set goals for myself and when you get through training and have those little thoughts about easing up, you have to push through. I know that I've set my mind to something and I have an understanding of what is required.
Are you feeling some extra pressure going in as the defending champion?
It's a whole different feeling, but I feel a bit honoured if people are out there to get me and catch me this year. It's also an honour that people are trying to break my world record, but I'm out there trying to do the same thing.
How have you developed as an athlete since your win last July and your career-best Ironwoman Series result?
I think my preparation has been a lot better. Something I've really noticed was that finishing the Molokai last year was a massive confidence boost for me. And then coming back to go through the series trials and having my best series was all a massive learning curve for me.
How much inspiration do you take from Jamie Mitchell's 10-from-10 record in the Molokai?
Jamie is one of my top sporting idols. To go back for 10 years and win 10 from 10, and just find that motivation to keep bettering yourself and knowing what is ahead of you, I think he is another level of human.
Have you set a goal time-wise for this year's race?
It's super tough to set a time in an event which is reliant on the conditions and the tides. From looking at this year's forecast, the tides aren't looking good for the race. Hopefully, we get better runs and water conditions, but we do know the tides will be working against us, whereas last year we had really good tides. But I'd definitely love to break the record.