Molokai Hoe island-to-island outrigger canoe race happens Sunday. Watch it live online.by: Joanne Romero
posted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 12:46 AM
Molokai Hoe competitors as they pass Diamond Head crater and Waikiki Beach on the way to the finish line.
The 26-mile-wide Kaiwi Channel, which separates Molokai and Oahu, is one of Hawai‘i’s most unpredictable sea passages even in ideal weather conditions.
Trade winds on the channel can be too light or too intense—at times, both on the same day. Strong currents have been known to sweep small watercraft far off course. Toss in swells as high as 30 feet and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a rough day on the ocean.
Sound like the perfect location for one of the world’s most prestigious and challenging open-ocean canoe races? It is.
The Molokai Hoe Molokai-to-Oahu outrigger-canoe race is considered by many competitive paddlers to be their sport’s ultimate challenge. Hoe is the Hawaiian word for paddle or the act of paddling. Each October, paddling teams from Hawai‘i and around the world—more than 1,000-plus participants in all—haul their single-hulled, six-man canoes to west Molokai’s otherwise quiet Hale o Lono Harbor for the 41-mile race to Waikiki’s Fort DeRussy Beach.
The Molokai Hoe will hold its 60th competition on Sun., Oct. 9. If you're on Molokai, you can watch its dramatic start at 8 a.m. from Hale o Lono Harbor. On Oahu that day? Head down to Waikiki's Fort DeRussy Beach midday to see which canoe reaches the beach first. If you're not on either island on Sunday, catch some of the best views of the Molokai Hoe—on the water, and in the air—streaming online at www.molokaihoe.com.
“If you’re an Ironman, you do Kona,” says five-time Molokai Hoe finisher and U.S. Men’s Kayak Sprint National Team member Patrick Dolan, name-checking the famed granddaddy of triathlons, annually held the same weekend as the Hoe. “If you’re an outrigger paddler, you’ve got to do the Molokai Hoe.”
A Molokai Hoe outrigger negotiates the large ocean swells of the Kaiwi Channel, between Molokai and Oahu.
The first Molokai Hoe was held in 1952 with just three canoes in competition, each with six men paddling the full length of the race. Six decades later, it remains a men-only event despite increases in annual Molokai Hoe participants and paddling’s growing worldwide popularity as a sport. A women’s Kaiwi Channel race, the Na Wahine o ke Kai, established in 1979, is held annually two weeks before the Molokai Hoe.
Interestingly enough, other requirements are few. With divisions for novices and seasoned pros, the Molokai Hoe does not require paddlers to complete qualifying races before entering.
Year-round training and preparation, however, is highly advised. Shorter distance-training races are held from March through August. Paddlers often train in the water two to three times a week, while on other days adding running and weightlifting to the mix.
Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
World’s largest long-distance outrigger canoe race set for Saturday on Kona Coast
Ironman Triathlon, Molokai Hoe canoe race happening this weekend. Where to watch live.
Molokai-2-Oahu paddleboard event’s 32-mile open-ocean races slated for Sunday