Paddlers test skills at World Challenge

Have you noticed more and more cars and trucks around the island with small canoes strapped to racks?

The Kaua’i Hoe Wa’a, our island’s one-man outrigger canoe racing association, is growing fast, according to competitive paddler Cindy Grover.

The Kaua’i World Challenge kicks off April 26 with a 34-mile race around Kaua’i, starting at Wailua and goes to Hanama’ulu, Kalapaki, Poipu, and ends in Port Allen.

Grover, who has competed in races around the world, says the sport is gaining in popularity. More people are racing and training in one-man canoes, though traditionally, people train in six-man canoes and race one-mans, she said.

Paddlers from Oregon, Washington, California, Australia, Tahiti, New Zealand, and around Hawai’i will come to Kaua’i, and race coordinators are already receiving requests to “adopt a paddler.”

After a race, it’s traditional to give a lei, have a party or go to dinner, and to get to know people from other areas.

The Kaua’i World Challenge welcomes both OC-1 and OC-2 relay teams. OC-1 teams have two people, and OC-2 team is made up of four people, either all men, women or mixed teams.

The Kaua’i World Challenge has a $25,000 purse and is also sponsored by $30,000 from the Hawai’i Tourism Authority.

After the Quarterback Challenge changed locations for 2003, the HTA had to choose another sporting event to make the best use of the money. The Kauai Hoe Wa’a Association helped secure television coverage and is partnering with the Kaua’i Visitors Bureau to get a seven-minute segment about the race and Kaua’i landmarks in the “Hawai’i’s Ocean Games” program, to be broadcast in nearly 100 cities.

As far as water sports are concerned, Kaua’i is perfect because of its rural nature, beautiful coastlines and community, Grover said.

For more information about the race, to sponsor a paddler or enter a team, please access http://www.ocpaddler.com.

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