Moloka'i Hoe Race Recap
Ever since 1952, charging the churning and often unpredictable waters of the Kaiwi Channel, brave paddlers have fearlessly traversed the treacherous 41-mile stretch of sea separating Molokai and Oahu. Beginning at Molokai’s Hale O Lono Harbor and ending at Oahu’s Duke Kahanamoku Beach, this exciting annual journey is known officially as the Molokai Hoe, and holds the privilege of being considered the world championship of outrigger canoe paddling.
Named after the Hawaiian word for “paddle,” the Hoe (pronounced “ho-eh”) brings together teams from Hawaii, as well as those flying in to battle-and-paddle it out from around the world. When all is said and done, the entrants number more than 1,000 fearless adventurers, ready to row their single-hulled rigs across one of the most daunting ocean passages in the Islands.
Kevin Yim, senior director of global marketing communications for Hawaiian Airlines (the official sponsor of the race this year) commented on the rich tradition and pride the event exudes, stating that, “It’s a uniquely cultural sport that tens of thousands of people around the world have embraced – from Australia, to Japan, China, Tahiti, Germany, Sweden, Russia, France, Panama, and many more." Yim continued, saying that, "The sport creates a sense of ‘Hawaii’ around the world.”
The women's race was held on Sept. 21, and attracted a healthy crown of onlookers on both Moloaki and Oahu. The men's race, held this past Sunday, Oct. 12, was a well-attended and exciting opportunity to gather with the community and celebrate this rich ancestral tradition in Island sports. The event was broadcast live for those unable to make it out in person via Ocean Paddler TV and courtesy of several camera-equipped ships' and helicopters' live feed captures.
After hours of grueling paddling, fighting the swells, waves and raging currents of the Pacific, these crews arrived on Oahu battling it out for bragging rights to be this year’s champions of the Molokai Hoe. Official stats are as follows in descending order: Team EDT, Shell, EDT 2, Tahiti Nui, Lanikai, Primo, Hui Nalu Hokupa'a, Kauai Wa'a, Outrigger Red, Mellow Johnny's, Kailua 1, Air Tahiti Nui, Na Koa Kona, Molokai, Cronulla, Lanakaila Cali, Healani, Waikiki Beachboys 1, Kaiopua Blue and rounding out the bunch at twentieth place, Team Tahitian Ohana.
Showcasing strength, stamina and sheer power of will, each and every paddler in this comp more than warrants the title of winner in my book. And after personally witnessing firsthand the all-encompassing excitement of the Molokai Hoe, I can more than understand why this event has become one of the longest running yearly sporting festivities in the Aloha state. Here's to hoping such rich tradition and deep cultural roots remain popular for years to come. A hui hou!
By Andy Beth Miller