Hanalei Bay Swim Challenge called off

HANALEI — The 2018 Hanalei Bay Swim Challenge was canceled Monday.

Members of the Namolokama Canoe Club, which puts on the signature fundraiser, reversed course from last week’s decision to go ahead with the popular swim on July 1 in one of the world’s most beautiful bays.

“Operationally everything is a go but the last month and a half have been a very challenging time for Namolokama’s members,” wrote Pam Murphy. “The extended flood recovery efforts are taking a toll on our paddlers and their families. We don’t think anyone could have anticipated the physical and emotional impact of cleaning up after the record rains.”

The club had been receiving many calls from people wondering if the event, which includes a 1,500 meter swim and a 3,000 meter swim, as well as keiki courses, would go on after April’s flooding devastated much of the North Shore.

Because the recovery is ongoing and people are being pushed to the limit to deal with the stress and must focus their energy elsewhere, the club concluded the 12th annual race could not go on.

It had hoped to have the swim go from Pine Trees toward the Hanalei Pier and back, reverse of the usual courses. It had also received a permit from the county to hold the event at Waioli Beach Park, and the brown water advisory for Hanalei Bay was lifted.

But, there was still too much to overcome.

“It is painful for us to have to do this but it is clear that the time needed to organize the event would be better spent focusing our families and rebuilding efforts,” Murphy wrote.

It’s the second major sporting event on the North Shore to be canceled.

The 38th annual Haena to Hanalei Run/Walk, slated for June 2, was called off last month by the Hanalei Canoe Club.

The eight-mile race features a scenic course that begins at Kee Beach and follows Kuhio Highway back to Hanalei and finishes near the Hanalei Pier. It generally attracted about 500 runners and walkers. The awards ceremony and breakfast after the race is a fun, spirited affair looked forward to by many.

But the mid-April flooding that caused multiple landslides, destroyed and damaged homes and vehicles, left people stranded and homeless, and washed out sections of the highway, forced organizers to try find another course.

However, there was just not enough time to pull it together.

“We tried to find another venue but were unsuccessful,” wrote Mary Mair, secretary of the Hanalei Canoe Club. “The recovery here in our community is going to take some time.”

Despite having to cancel the swim challenge, the Namolokama is looking forward to rebuilding it canoe fleet that was damaged in the flood, designing a new club house, preparing new members for the long distance racing season and hosting of the 2019 Hawaii Canoe Racing Association State Championship regatta which will be held in Hanalei Bay.

Organizers of both the swim and the run are planning to return in 2019.

“We have received overwhelming support from Kauai, Hawaii and paddlers around the world and are confident that the next year will be an awesome one,” Murphy wrote.

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