Big Island Now No. 25: What is your favorite water sport to participate in on Hawai‘i Island?
The Hawaiian culture is deeply connected to the ocean and coming up this weekend the Big Island community will not only celebrate Hawai‘i’s last reigning monarch, but perpetuate culture in a long distance outrigger canoe paddling race.
On Saturday, about 2,500 paddlers from around the world will descend onto Kailua-Kona for the 50th anniversary of the Queen Lili’uokalani Canoe Race. What started as a way to train for the grueling Na Wahine O Ke Kai (Women) and the Molokai Hoe (Men) — a long-distance paddle race from Moloka‘i to the island of O‘ahu — is now the world’s largest long distance canoe race.
Mike Atwood, vice president of Kai ‘Ōpua Canoe Club, has paddled for decades. He said outrigger canoe paddling perpetuates the respect Polynesians have between the land and sea.
“You feel the ocean and the sea working for you or against you,” Atwood said, adding overtime, you learn to work with the surf.
“It feels so smooth and easy when the canoe is gliding,” he said.
Without a question, Atwood said, the Big Island is an ocean community. There are many other water sports that people enjoy and connect with not only for entertainment but on a cultural level.