(BIVN) – The winners have been announced in the world’s largest long distance outrigger canoe race. Today was the signature 18-mile long distance race, part of five days of canoe racing being held in Kona from Thursday, August 31 through Monday, September 4, 2017.
Event organizers shared this media release detailing the results of Saturday’s action:
As the blowing of the conch shell welcomed sunrise over Hualālai, paddlers from around the world descended on Kamakahonu Bay for the 2017 Queen Lili‘uokalani Long Distance Canoe Race, hosted by Kai ‘Ōpua Canoe Club. The world’s largest outrigger canoe race welcomed 117 women’s crews and 126 men’s crews to the starting line to race the 18-mile course between Kailua Bay and Hōnaunau. At 7:30 am the starting flags dropped and the women and Mix 40+ crews took off from Kailua Bay.
The first Iron (no crew changes) Unlimited Division women’s crew to cross the 18-mile race from Kailua Bay to Hōnaunau went to Outrigger Canoe Club who captured the win with a time of 2:21:22. Puna Canoe Club took second with a time of 2:30:25 followed by hosts Kai ‘Ōpua Canoe Club with a time of 2:35:49.
A high surf advisory for south facing shores challenged crews to make strategic and intentional course decisions.
In the Iron Open Non-Koa Division, the power women of Kai ‘Ōpua took the early lead and held off Kawaihae and Kahana who were close behind. “It was the coolest race I can remember, the morning air was fresh,” said Nicki Enos veteran steersman and long-time Kai ‘Ōpua paddler. “Right off the starting line the south swell helped us with little pushes. Although the two other crews were always on the hunt, our strategy was to get out there on the course fast and stay in front.”
Back again this year, live online tracking gave spectators an opportunity to follow their favorite crews from a mobile device or desktop in real time. As the tracker indicated, the battle continued all the way down the coast to Hōnaunau. The women of Kai ‘Ōpua Canoe Club captured the Iron Open Non-Koa Division win with a time of 2:24:07 followed by Kawaihae Canoe Club in 2:25:39. Kahana Canoe Club rounded out the top three in this division with a time of 2:28:25.
First over the line in the Iron Open Koa Division went to the women of Keoua Canoe Club with a time of 2:21:22 followed by Puna Canoe Club and Kai ‘Ōpua Canoe Club.
As the last of the women’s crews finished, 126 men’s crews took to the starting line and left Hōnaunau on the return 18-mile journey back to Kailua Bay.
“As usual, Kona’s water performed as it should, giving the women’s race a start, although the south swell kept the course times a bit slower,” said Mike Atwood,
Race Director. “Big Island teams were well represented on the winner’s podium and the iron crews are all incredibly fit with impressive times. As paddlers in this sport continue to train at very high levels, their physical conditioning will continue to push faster and faster finish times. I look forward to the years ahead.”
The first Iron Unlimited Division men’s crew to cross the finish line in Kailua Bay went to Wairua Oceania with a time of 1:41:29. Hui Nalu Canoe Club took second with a time with a time of 1:42:07 followed by Puna Canoe Club with a time of 1:43: 36.
Red Bull Wa‘a/Kai ‘Ōpua clinched first place in the Iron Open Non-Koa Division with an impressive time of 1:43:30 followed by Lanikai Canoe Club in second place with a time of 1:45:04 and Lanikai Canoe Club 2 in third with a time of 1:47:17.
Racing in the Iron Open Koa Division, Keoua Canoe Club took first place with a finishing time of 1:57:05. Kai ‘Ehitu Canoe Club took second with a time of 1:59:11 and the men of Hui Wa‘a ‘O Waiakea finished third, crossing the line in 2:07:20.
“We host paddlers from all over the world who come here to share these five days of fun, competitive canoe racing as we all honor Hawai‘i’s last monarch, Queen Lili‘uokalani,” said Kai ‘Ōpua Canoe Club President Uncle Bo Campos. “Mahalo nui loa to everyone who helps make this world’s largest long distance canoe race run so smoothly. The smiles on the faces are so rewarding and remind us that we look forward to next year.”
The 2017 Queen Lili‘uokalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Races are sponsored in part by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, Queen K 76, Pacifico, OluKai, Ocean Paddler Television, Courtyard Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, Hulakai, Kialoa, Target and numerous corporate and community donors.
Outrigger canoe racing is a significant and fundamental Hawaiian cultural event in Hawaii. It is even considered the State’s Official Team Sport. According to event organizers, “Kona’s place in canoe regatta history is unrivaled and for the last four decades, the Queen Lili’uokalani Long Distance Canoe Races has continued to share Hawaiian culture through the sport of outrigger canoe racing with the world. For five days of racing, Queen’s Race participants are immersed in culture and history, including the spectator-friendly signature 18-mile race on Saturday that follows a historically and culturally significant course running between Kamakahonu Bay, a National Historic Site and Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park.”