Uncle Louis Kelekolio Memorial Race

While Hilo was under flood watch and early morning lightning and heavy rain the Keōua Hōnaunau Canoe Club held an OC1 race with clear blue skies and a light northerly breeze. The long course with 41 canoes was a 9.5 mile run and the short course with 31 canoes was a 6 mile race. There were a lot of OC2’s out on the courses and since the races are limited to 50 people per course the total number of canoes were down but both courses were almost at limit of 50.

The sleeping dolphins greeted some racers upon return as did a slight set of bumps that were somewhat surfable with effort.

Congratulations to the Keaukaha paddlers that came out to race:

  • Long Course: Jose, Eric, Jeff, Keola, Brandi
  • Short Course: Grant & Kawai, Greg

Kaipalaoa Race Results

Almost 100 Wa’a at the start line with 6+ foot separation of course

Saturday’s race saw almost 100 paddlers turn out for the Kaipalaoa race which was a fundraiser for OSMD hosted by our own Kwai-Chang and Corrina Publico of So Juicy. All of the event proceeds go to help OSMD provide assistance and motivation for those effected by Muscular Dystrophy. In addition to part of the race fees going to OSMD a donation based drawing also raised more funds. If you entered the drawing follow and watch for your ticket number! A big thanks to the sponsors: HI Pressure Paddles, Stay Humble Hats, Sig Zane dry bags, So Juicy, OK farms Coffee, Bytes and Pieces, Homesteady, All Pulu Hat, Hilo One, The Makery, and any others missing from this list.

Kaipalaoa is an area of the bay that most paddlers are very familiar with. The land around the lighthouse in Hilo is known by this name and features the surfing reef which has been surfable almost every day this past year. Kamehameha was said to have landed here and left his guards to watch his canoe. After a few days of Kamehameha being absent the guards decided to search for him. Kamehameha was upset they left the canoe behind but one guard mentioned he fashioned a rope and a knot to keep the canoe safe. Upon returning to the secured canoe Kamehameha was impressed by the guard’s skills and named the area Hilo after the twisted and braided line that kept the canoe safe.

Due to the high amount of humpback whales, race officials decided the safest way to not disturb them or risk any paddlers was to keep the races inside the bay. This made for a lot of turns for the long course and a shortened both courses to accommodate the separate courses inside the bay — probably a first for the HIPA races.

With a Le Mans-style beach start, all the racers lined up in waist deep water. When the horn was about to go, there was the calls of “Cheehoo!” and “Go!” and an explosive start followed shortly by the official air horn start sound.

About 45 canoes on the short course (~3 miles) charged towards the red buoy while another 42 canoes on the long course (~5.5 miles) aimed for the inner green buoy. It was an intense start with everyone pushing hard for the best lines. Long course paddlers headed for the outside green, the bridge piling, outside green, and back to the bridge and then a sprint for the halaus where both courses finished. The short course sprinted to the red buoy and then a boat turn by the tip of the wall then to a flag and boat on the left side of the Kaipalaoa area to avoid the surf break.

There was a slight breeze blowing down the mauna and a strong current running from the Wailuku towards the outer green buoy. Aside from the hulis and a long course canoe or two getting caught trying to short cut the surf, everything went perfectly and all the paddlers had a blast. Even Moku and Sammy Sampaga (OSMD) teamed up on an OC2 to tear up the long course.

Keaukaha helped fill out the starting line up on both courses and the KCC and KOYD kids were out in force:

  • Long: Jose, Keahi, Aaron, Kama, Eric, Kawika, Jeff, Kanoe, Keola, Brandi, La’akea (jr. oc1)
  • Short: Grant, Greg, Kawai, Shai (jr. V1), Mike, Lewis (jr. V1), Lexi (first race and a first place!), Rena, Dalilah (jr. V1), Eha (jr. V1), Cother (jr. V1), Malakai (jr. V1), O-Shen (jr. 1), Niau (jr. V1), Kwai-Chang, Corrina, Tanoa (jr. V1), Lexie (jr. V1)

And next Saturday is one of the popular venues: Keoua’s Race at Honaunau! Sign up on line before Friday.


Valentine’s Relay Race

This is a Big Island classic with something for everyone. You could do an iron 8 miles, or 10 miles, or split it up and do half as a relay with a paddling partner. There’s even an option to do the iron yourself and have a partner do part of the relay with you so you can enter both iron and a relay so your partner can paddle a single leg.

This Saturday’s race followed on the tails of high surf warnings so hopes were up there would be some extra wave action. Kona being Kona however we didn’t get much of that swell but the wind tried to help out. The 9:30 am short course start saw the paddlers heading south into a building breeze out of Honokohau Harbor to Kamakahonu Beach where they would either swap with their partner or u-turn for the 8 mile iron short course. The 10:00 am start for the long course proceeded along the same line but further south to the coast guard 1.2 mile swim buoy then into Kamakahonu for the relay exchange or iron turn around.

Both courses had some south flowing current along Kiawe Point and paddlers on the inside grabbed a boost while pushing upwind. A navigational error by the lead pack on the long course sent some paddlers on an extra mile or so to correct their course error. Small wind bumps helped lift paddlers back north to the finish back at the harbor.

A raffle was held online to help raise money for the youth paddling program and the winners were announced on Instagram.

Congrats to the Keaukaha Paddlers (*and their relay partners)! The Juniors also charged the long iron course which was an amazing effort!

  • Long Course: Keahi, Arron*, Eric, Jose, Jose & Brandi, Lewis Fleishour (KOYD jr. v1), Shai Badon Dellomes (KOYD jr. v1), Cother La’a (KOYD jr. v1)
  • Short Course: Kyle*, Kanoe & Kama, Greg

Remember next week’s race is in Hilo on the 20th. Signup today:

Signup to Race In Hilo


Pa’akai Paddles Race – Feb. 6 2021

Good news! HIPA was able to get approval for the oc1 season races and yesterday’s race was jammed with Keaukaha paddlers on both courses. Both courses ran north against a light breeze. There was a nice mix of bumps and the long course got the pleasure of the washing machine waters south of the harbor on the way back from their southern turning point. The dolphins were outside the harbor and the skies were clear enough to see the snow on the mountains.

Check out the HIPA schedule for the races.

Which includes the postponed Hilo race which will now run on the 20th. And signup is open for the Valentines race this Saturday.

Special congratulations go to the Junior paddlers that managed to make the race all the way over in Kona and hammering in the V1s. Great job to them! And congrats to our newest Novice paddler, Mike McConnell!

Long Course: Jose, Aaron, Keahi, Eric, Jeff, Brandi

Short Course: Grant & Kawai, Mike, Greg, Cother (jr. v1), Pakela (jr. v1)

(Also KOYD jr. paddlers: Kala’i and Dalilah)