KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii: This is what it looks like just after sunrise on the shore of Kamakahonu Bay just before the start of the Queen Liliuokalani Long Distance Canoe Race.
More than 2,000 outrigger canoe paddlers from around the world came to Kona this year, including crews from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Tahiti, United Kingdom, as well as an estimated 75 crews from the U.S.
Saturday – Day one – was the signature, 18 mile race along the Kona coast for the Wa’a Kaukahi – or the single hull canoe group.
The wahine, who are the first to go, must paddle from the sacred landmark Ahu’ena Heiau and the start in Kailua Bay, where they race all the way to the finish in Honaunau to the south.
Here is the fleet women paddlers, passing Keauhou en route to the finish line. Considered to be a half way point for these paddlers.
The club of Hui Nalu claimed the race in 2 hours, 20 minutes, 55 seconds. Kai Opua finished in second. Kawaihae took third.
From Honaunau, the men return to Kailua Bay in their own 18 mile race.
Finishing first among men: Team Livestrong, from Kailua-Kona. The team has made cancer awareness its focus.
Kai Opua’s Puni crew finished second. The team was assembled in memory of team mate Puni Freitas, injured in a car accident a week ago.
The event is hosted by Kai Opua, the Big Island’s dominant canoe club. Here is club president Lawrence “Bo” Campos returning to the pier with official observers of the race.
The event continued all weekend, with double hull canoe races on Sunday, and one and two person races on Labor day.
There were also plenty of crafts and food vendors on hand at the Kailua Pier for the event.