40th Annual Queen Lili'uokalani Canoe Race
September 3, 4 and 5, 2011 – Labor Day weekend – Paddlers from all over the world gathered for the 40th Annual Queen Lili‘uokalani Canoe Races held on the beautiful Kona Coast hosted by Kai Opua Canoe Club. OluKai was proud to be one of the sponsors for the largest long distance canoe race in the world, attracting over a thousand paddlers from Hawaii and beyond. The event featured single hull, double hull and individual races along with a torchlight parade, dance and luau awards ceremony.
The Queen Liliuokalani Canoe Race was started in 1972 to fulfill a need for a way to train for the grueling Na Wahine O Ke Kai (women outrigger canoe race) and the Molokai Hoe (men outrigger canoe race). The race was named in honor of the last reigning monarch of Hawaii as the first race fell on Queen Liliuokalani's birthday, September 2.
Saturday, Wa’a Kaukahi (single hull canoes) – The women start this event by paddling 18 miles from Kailua Bay to Honaunau and then the men bring it back 18 miles. Team Livestrong from the Big Island won the men's Iron Open 18 mile race in a time of 1:52:26 and team Kahili Kai from Ala Wai on Oahu won the women’s Iron Open 18 mile race in a time of 2:12:17.
On Sunday, Wa’a Kaulua (double hull canoes) - The men and women tie together two single hull canoes to make the double hulls, and the women and mixed double hulls start, taking the Wa’a (canoes) 3 miles South to Lyman’s, turn there and return to Kailua Bay for a total of six miles. Following the same course are the OC1 and OC2 canoe race, Stand-Up Paddleboards and a three Keiki divisions (OC6 – 6 person crews): 15, 16 and 18 and under race.
Monday was the Ali‘i Challenge and course was moved from the 2010 site of Kona Village because of tsunami damage sustained by the resort. The start and finish of this years Ali’i Challenge was held in front of the King Kamehameha Hotel. The 12 person teams were broken into 6 men and 6 women. Men paddled 8.5 miles from Kailua PIer to Honokohau Harbor and the women paddled 8.5 miles from Honokohau Harbor to Kailua Pier. Team Kakio took first place with a time of 3:29:08.
This years races saw an increase in the number of paddlers with 134 women’s teams compared to 121 in 2010 and 144 men’s teams compared to 123 the previous year. Mahalo nui loa to all the participants, friends, families, and volunteers that helped make the 40th annual Queen Lili’uokalani Canoe Race a success! OluKai is very appreciative to be a part of such a historical race.