KEKAHA — Lanakila Puakea Designs of Redondo Beach, Calif., won the Na Pali Challenge in just under five hours on Saturday.
“We were just stoked that we were really out here,” said Lanakila paddler Jill Schooler. “It was fun. The first part, the women did the start. … We had a couple of really fun downhill pieces. Then it kind of flattened out, which isn’t too bad for us.”
The long-distance canoe race began early Saturday morning at Hanalei Bay, paddled through the Na Pali Coast and crossed the finish line at the Kikialoa Small Boat Harbor in Kekaha. The course spanned about 34 miles.
Kauai Outrigger Association hosted this year’s Na Pali Challenge. It is a unique outrigger canoe change race because it’s the only race where there’s a crew of 12 — six men and six women, said race director Dana Miyake.
Along the course, the men and women switch in and out of the canoes every half hour. Those not paddling follow in escort boats until it’s time to switch. A total of 33 crews participated this year.
“Because you only have 30 minutes in the water that you’re racing and then you have a 30 minute rest, you get to enjoy the scenery which normally you don’t get to do when you’re racing,” Miyake said.
KOA’s NaMolokama finished second.
“It was great. The start was really good — a lot of wind and a lot of fast surf. Then the wind kind of died, and that’s when the ultralights took off and gained ground on us,” said NaMolokama paddler Hobey Beck. “Then the wind came on to our face. That ended up being a hard race at the end. That’s when we gained ground and passed some of those ultralight boats.”
This year’s event was dedicated in memory of former association president Duane “Kalani” Dawson, who passed away last month.
“When this race first started, he was one of the people to help get it going,” said Miyake, who was a close friend of Dawson. “His services are tomorrow, so we dedicated the race to him.”
“As long as I’ve known him, he’s always involved in paddling,” she added about Dawson. “He was always a key player or leader. He also helped to start the Puuwai Canoe Club, I believe. And he was the president of the Garden Island Canoe Association for a long time.”
Miyake said the race could have been canceled.
“Last year, we had to cancel the race because of Hurricane Iselle. Then we had Hurricane Guillermo, which was coming. It was almost exactly deja vu,” Miyake said. “We were watching a lot of the news reports. We had a lot of the Mainland crews that were calling to verify that we were still having the race and the escort boat drivers. … As of Wednesday night, it was a go all the way.”
1. Lanakila Puakea Desings,
2. NaMolokama Te Urie Te Moana,
3. # Love Boat Kamakahiapo,
4. Puuwai & Kawaikini Kamakahi-
apo, unlimited, 5:10:55.4
5. Hanalei Hui Ohana, 18-39,
6. NaMolokama Waipoli, unlimited,
7. Team Hawaii Kahaloahiwahiwa,
8. Hanalei, 40-49, 5:49:19.9
9. Kukuiula Ka Makani O
Mahaulepu, 50-54, 5:49:56.4
10. Niumalu Kalapaki, 18-39,
Full results at webscorer.com