That was the lead on the story of the race today in the local paper. That I suppose represents the sentiment of the 114 womens and 110 mens crews that participated in the race. Kona is famous for its’ hot weather and though it was hot this year, the women got a strong head wind at the start which cooled things a bit. Unlike the other islands the mass of the Big Island diminishes the effect of the tradewinds, and so you hope for thermals which are created by the land mass…The men got a bit of a tailwind and even late clouds but also plenty of mid-race heat…running the shore this year down seemed the ticket for the women and most of the mens canoes ran close on the way back. Not alot of wind nor current but boat chop made it challenging at times with crews changing, boats motoring around and canoes battling for position. The winners were Team New Zealand for the men at 1:50.20, and Lanakila for the women at 2:12.06…Ocean River was fourth in the Iron Masters division at 2:17.30 and Lotus 34th in the Open division at 2:12.14 in the mens’ races. Lotus had 2 womens boats in the Iron division, finishing 25th (2:32.05) and 68th (3:00.42) There were alot of other Canadian paddlers all over the place mixed into boats…Randy, Eric and Brian all familiar faces to Canada were in an open class with a boat designed by some guys at Kona Athletic, and finished in 2:09.02, only boat in their category though!!!! 12 categories for men alone in this deal…8 for the women…Today are the small boat races, a 10 k triangle course…but last night was the dreaded torch parade…actually a lot of fun with people all over the street, drums hammering and everyone in high spirits, covered with leis and maile vine and celebrating everything from in your face wins to My God we did it…my crew! Anyway let you know how the small boat race and the luau after goes…



Jon A – Calgary

I just had to let you know about how exciting the night before is…all over the beach at the lagoon in front of the King Kamehameha Hotel-translates as the one who stands alone or apart- people laughing and here are stacks of canoes…just piled up and everyone is rigging and gettting their crews organized and it runs from solemn meetings through people laughing and paddling, etc. The town begins to really get busy with crews from Australia and Hong Kong and the West Coast/ Saw the Canadian crews and they looked all ready to go…The men will watch the wahines take off th en drive down the coast and wait…it is before dawn here as the crew I steer for is from California and they will all met at 6:00 am for the canoe blessing…then the big breakfast…and the race. Hearing too many roosters crowing so got to go…let you know how it all turns out.


It is usually the case that most racers from out of state begin arriving around the first of September for this largest OC-6 race in the world. Canadians from BC- Lotus crews and from the Island- have been here warming up and training for even longer.

In fact I was down on the pier- the site of the race and where everyone goes to ‘talk story’ and the buzz among the Hawaians was about a unique racing style that a Canadian team introduced them to at the Waikola race, last weekend. Seems it was a beach/Lemans start …everyone hop in and go, as they would say. One Hawaiian guy related, however,how the ‘Canadian’ team “…drag it steers guy fo’ ’bout quata mile..but they hang on, bro!!!” I explained that this is really a new Canadian technique where we use our legs to swim the boat along and, damn me, by Wednesday every local boat in Kailua Harbor was out there draggin’ steerspersons…just kidding. So we are off to if not an illustrious start at least an impactful presence.

A bit of history about the race… Queen Lili’uokalani was the last reigning monarch in the Hawaiian Islands. During a period of expeditionary US policy regarding Cuba and the Philippines it seemed expedicious to also ‘protect’ Hawaii and in so doing, the Monarchy was overthrown, the Queen imprisioned and ultimately Hawaii became a US state. The World Court has been made interested in this matter, through the efforts of indigenous Hawaiian people who feel
they frankly were ripped off. As result of this event the Queen who by the way wrote alot of traditional Hawaiian songs including Aloha Oe is much revered and the race in her honor.

It is hugely international with upwards of a hundred boats on the line at the start. It is point to point…from Kailua, Kona to Honaunau, 29 kilometers with irn and change diviisions and a million categories. The wahines race down coast in the AM and the men return the boats in the PM. Honaunau is a state park with a replication of an Hawaiian village on the site of the original City of Refuge, an Hawaiian ‘get-out-of-jail free’ arrangement they used to have. It is pretty amazing to see a lagoon full of boats in such a setting.

Once back to Kailua the racers unrig boats and get ready for the torch light parade …Saturday night paddlers meet on the waterfront drive, everyone gets a torch and off they march! We Canadians have been practicing marching for several days, perfect formation, eh! Can’t get torches yet but the guys fron Ocean River have got us broom sticks to march around with… OK just kidding again about the practice stuff. However I did talk with ‘uncle’ who makes the
torches and he said it is alot of work ‘”…’cause if you don’t tie them up right and tight, they swing ’em and off the fire goes…” You can bet there will be no Canadian swinging going on!!!

So signing off for now…of to Honolulu for a day and when I get back, mo’ update Bro!!!!

~ Jon A. – Calgary Canoe Club