A whale of a time in Po’ipu

Whales and dolphins joined the canoe paddlers yesterday in Po’ipu for the annual Po’ipu Challenge, a six-man outrigger canoe race, which started just outside the surf break at the famed beach.

“Po’ipu Beach is popular with tourists and last year we got great compliments from them, they liked the ancient Hawaiian sport of outrigger canoe paddling, but also how teams and clubs worked as an ‘ohana,” race coordinator Leo Bruijnooge wrote in an email.

With over 150 participants at the event this year, it was by far the largest race hosted by a single canoe club (Koloa Outrigger Canoe Club) on the island.

The race encompassed 10 miles, which included women’s, mixed, and men’s divisions.

Namolokama took the top time in the mixed contest (1:16.01), followed by Kaiola (1:17.43) and Hanalei (1:19.01).

In women’s masters, Koloa won with a time of 1:28.54. Koloa also nabbed a first place finish in the novice women’s event (1:41.35). Pu’uwai claimed the women’s senior masters competition (1:33.29).

The highly competitive women’s open race saw Kaiola crossing first (1:20.32), followed by Pu’uwai (1:21.00) and Niumalu (1:23.05).

Kaiola (1:10.36) also took the men’s open contest, over Pu’uwai (1:13.19) and Koloa (1:14.04). Kaiola swept the men’s masters (1:34.11), men’s novice (1:19.19), and men’s senior masters (1:13.37) races.

After the race, the paddlers were treated to some food, fun, and prizes. Individuals who attended the event were also encouraged to donate to Pu’uwai paddler “Ama” Valente-Gonsalves’ fund. He is still recuperating from an injury during the high school paddling season.

For more information about the event, check out www.koloaoutriggercanoeclub.com or call Leo at 651-6208.

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