Ready for the challenge?

4th Annual Expedia.com Kaua‘i World Challenge starts today

By Duane Shimogawa Jr. – The Garden Island

A great field of international paddlers will be competing on Kaua‘i today for a cash purse of over $20,000 in the 4th Annual Expedia.com Kaua‘i World Challenge.

This race is a 34-mile coastal relay starting at Wailua Beach with changes at Hanamaulu Bay, Kalapaki Bay, Po‘ipu Beach Park with a finish at Salt Pond on the westside of the island.

Over 100 teams from Hawai‘i, California, England, South Africa, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil are entered in men’s, women’s and mixed divisions on one-man or two-man outrigger canoes or surfskis.

“The race course covers 34 miles of dramatic shoreline and there are a number of places along the way for people to view the action. The first change at Hanamaulu Beach Park is terrific as the competitors are still very close to one another,” race director Tom Bartlett said.

“Competitors may be catching the surf coming into Kalapaki Bay while Rosell Bailey’s Hula Halau performs traditional hula on the beach. If there is a south swell at Po‘ipu, the change there can be challenging. Then it is typically a surf run for the paddlers to the Salt Pond finish,” Bartlett continued.

Each division will be hotly contested in the challenging four legs of the course which provide the competitors with a variety of tough paddling conditions and doesn’t allow any team a clear advantage.

As the weather forecast predicts light tradewinds, flat water can make it anyone’s race whereas the Hawaiian teams excel in rough conditions.

Kai Bartlett and Pat Dolan are favored to win the open men’s race as they finished second to Karel Tresnak Jr. and Nate Hendricks, by 20 seconds in this past weekend’s Moloka‘i to O‘ahu relay. Tresnak and Hendricks are not entered in this event as Tresnak is resting up for the Moloka‘i solo on May 21.

Other notable teams are Mark Fraiser/Butch Keahiolalo from Kaua‘i, Danny Ching/Tyson Poppler from California, Kea Paiina and Tapa Worthington from Honolulu, Mike Judd/Greg Long from Hawai‘i/Australia.

“Men’s age groups will be great races as each have a number of teams who could come out on top,” Bartlett said.

The women’s race will see great competition with Dane Ward and Margie Kawaiaea from Maui, Noe Auger/Alana Goo of Kaua‘i and Jill Schooler/Jeanne Barrett from California leading the pack.

The mixed teams will be tough as well with Aaron Napoleon (winner of two previous Kaua‘i Challenges) teaming up with Andrea Moeller of Brazil who won mixed last year. Hipo Princera of Kaua‘i and Jane McKee from Honolulu will be one of the hot teams to watch.

In the two-man canoe division, Bonga Perkins, world longboard surfing champion and his strong team appear to be the group to beat with Mark Baird and his Kaua‘i men challenging the O‘ahu team.

“A large contingent of mixed two-man teams will make that race very exciting with Craig Davidson from Makaha and his teammates competing against Margie Goodno and her team from Kaua‘i,” Bartlett said.

New this year is a teenage division with strong competitors from Hawai‘i, Brazil and two teams from California’s Newport Aquatic Center.

Back for more are the 60+ men’s with Nappy Napoleon and Gaylord Wilcox the team to beat.

In the surfski division, there will be two teams from South Africa headed up by world champion Oscar Chapulsky, a Hong Kong team as well as competitors from Australia and Hawai‘i.

The finish at Salt Pond is expected at 1 p.m., with live bands and entertainment provided by the Polynesian troupe Rohotu. For more info., contact Tom at 826-5503 or 652-0406.

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