LIHUE — Strong winds blowing in the 20 to 25 mph range coupled with a swell created gnarly conditions Saturday at the Ahukini Pier entrance to the first relay transfer point for the Kauai World Challenge.
“I would leave my hundred dollars on the table,” said Lori Parraga, a paddler and coach for the Kauai High School girls paddling team. “Losing a life is not worth this.”
But 78 racers disagreed, taking to the water at the Kapaa Beach Park for the 36-mile relay race for men, women and mixed one-man canoe, 4-person relay teams, and OC-2 women teams. A special stand-up paddleboard race started at the final relay transfer point at Poipu Beach, ending at the Salt Pond Park finish line.
Transition points included Hanamaulu Beach Park, Kalapaki Beach fronting the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club, and Poipu Beach Park.
“This (Hanamaulu) and the Kalapaki legs are probably the hardest legs of the race,” said Joe Curameng, another veteran paddler and Kauai High School paddling coach. “Once they clear Kipukai, the rest should be smooth sailing.”
Eugene Ancheta, a water safety officer at the Kealia Lifeguard Tower, topped the field of racers atop a stand-up paddleboard, 14 fixed rudder, touching the Salt Pond sand following a paddle of 1 hour, 43 minutes, 33.6 seconds, a full 10 minutes ahead of second finisher, Dave Ball, who landed at 1:53:03.5.
Bobbing through the crazy wind-driven waves, a solitary surfski made its way through the chop heading to the Hanamaulu Beach transfer.
That was Epkick with Dolen Szadivszki, the surfski touching sand at 3:47:20.6, more than an hour after the last SUP touched.
Six minutes later, the Ah-Kaman-Eww! team led by Kulukulualani Grant touched at 3:53:19.1 followed by Kai Bartlett with Bartlett and Reichenstein (3:55:11.3).
The first mixed OC-2 team finished 20th overall with the team of Carter and Kjeldsen touching at 4:32:58.3.
The first female team, Claire Sawyer and Noe Townsend, placed 38th overall on a paddle of 5:06:21.
The Kauai World Challenge culminates a 14-open ocean event season hosted by the YMCA Kauai Hoe Waa.
Visit www.kauaihoewaa.org for full results.