Over 2,500 Compete in Queen’s Outrigger Canoe Races

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Over 2,500 paddlers lined up for this year’s signature 18-mile race, including the women who paddled the 18-mile course from Kailua to Honaunau. Courtesy photo

Over 2,500 paddlers lined up for this year’s signature 18-mile race, including the women who paddled the 18-mile course from Kailua to Honaunau. Courtesy photo

More than 2,500 paddlers from around the globe competed in the prestigious Queen Lili‘uokalani Long Distance Canoe Races, in Kona’s Kailua Bay from Sept. 1 through 5, 2016.

The Lanikai Canoe Club Unlimited Women and Waikiki Beach Boys Canoe Club are the 2016 Women’s Division Canoe Race Champions.

Red Bull Wa‘a and Lanikai Canoe Club #2 are the 2016 Men’s Division Race Champions.

For the 122 wahine paddling crews, leaving Kailua Bay with a slight headwind made for good morning race start conditions.

“We dodged the unsettled weather hovering near the island all week,” said Race Director Mike Atwood. “Race morning seas for the wahine were mellow, making it a great course for the women’s race.”


The first women’s crew to complete the 18-mile race from Kailua Bay to Honaunau in the first Iron Unlimited Open Division with a time of 2:12:50 was Lanikai Canoe Club Unlimited Women.

Placing second was Kamehameha Canoe Club #2 at 2:21:25. Namalokama Canoe Club came in third.

Waikiki Beach Boys captured their fourth straight win in the Iron Open Division Non-Koa with a time of 2:13:14. Kai ‘Opua #6 took second at 2:14:46, followed by Kawaihae Pelekane with a time of 2:16:23.

Coming in first at 2:17:18 in the new Iron Mixed Masters Division was Kai ‘Opua Mixed 5 Kona & A Kiwi, followed by Spinner with a time of 2:19:34.

Following the completion of the women’s divisions, 120 men’s crews raced 18-miles from Honaunau to Kailua Bay.


“With the men’s mid-day start, the winds picked up from the southwest and it looked as though these favorable conditions might add some speed,” Atwood said. “But with changing wind and ocean conditions today, the wind actually shifted west and the swells picked up. Several crews huli [turned over] time and time again, testing the skill and endurance of the men all the way to the finish line.”

In the men’s Iron Unlimited Open Division, top honors went to the crew of Red Bull Wa‘a White with a time of 1:45:39, followed by Hui Nalu at 1:49:57 and Puna #1, capturing third with a time of 1:50:19.

Lanikai Canoe Club #2 won the Iron Open Division Non-Koa with a time of 1:54:11. Manu O‘Ke Kai #1 placed second coming in at 1:58:59, followed by Kai ‘Ehitu in third at 2:00:42.

Race organizers teamed up with Dotvision Motion to provide real-time geolocation platform. For the first time, family and friends were able to track and check competitors placement, speed and course live during the race.

Those who missed this year’s event can now watch the races online.


The Queen Lili‘uokalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Races include double-hull canoe races, stand-up paddle board races, teen long distance canoe races, OC1, OC2 and an 18-mile long distance single-hull canoe race.

The 18-mile race is the world’s longest and most prestigious canoe race in the world.

Held on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5, The Ali‘i Challenge, inspired by popular television shows Amazing Race and Survivor. The challenge includes a team of 12 paddling approximately 17.5 miles and each member of the crew completing a course on land.

In addition to the races, events included a traditional Hawaiian Luau, Historic Walking Tour through Historic Kailua Village, Paddling Talk Story, Torch Light Parade, International Paddlers Night and Queen Lili‘uokalani Awards Ceremonies.

The 2016 Queen Lili‘uokalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Races were sponsored by various community and corporate donors, including: Ocean Paddler Television, Hawaii Tourism Authority, King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, Olukai, Hulakai, Corona and Queen K 76.

Kai ‘Opua Canoe Club of Kona, founded in 1929, hosted the five day Queen Lili‘uokalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Races.

“We are thankful for everyone who traveled here to participate in this wonderful race named after Hawai‘i’s last monarch, Queen Lili‘uokalani, and whose birthday we celebrate this weekend,” said Kai ‘Opua Canoe Club President Uncle Bo Campos. “Mahalo nui loa to everyone who keeps paddling and helps to keep this Hawaiian sport alive around the world.”

The Queen Lili‘uokalani Long Distance Canoe Races perpetuate the sport of Hawaiian outrigger canoe racing in Hawaii and throughout the world. It’s an exciting time here in Kona and something everyone should put on their Hawaii must-do list. Courtesy photo

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