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Hawaii: Women celebrate four decades of canoe race competition

August 05, 2013|By Jay Jones
  • When the wahine take to the sea on Aug. 31 they'll be celebrating 40 years of women's participation in the long-distance Queen Liliuokalani Outrigger Canoe Races.
When the wahine take to the sea on Aug. 31 they'll be celebrating 40… (Kai Opua Canoe Club )

Women paddlers from around the world will celebrate 40 years of inclusion in the Queen Liliuokalani Outrigger Canoe Races when they return to the Big Island’s Kona Coast on Aug. 31.

It was in 1973 that wahine ("women" in Hawaiian) first participated in the long-distance competition. Back then, it was a six-mile race. It has since expanded to 18 miles between Kailua and Honaunau. 

“We knew we could do it,” Blondie Kamaka, one of the pioneering members of the Kai Opua Canoe Club crew, said in a news release. “We paddled because we love it [and] now it’s a legacy.”

Women who participated in the 1973 open-seas race will share their memories during a “talk story” session at 5 p.m. Aug. 30 on the lawn at Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel

The races will begin the next morning, with women paddlers taking to the water starting at 7:30. The kane (men) get a shot as well; they bring the canoes back on a return journey that starts at 11:45. 

There are races for single- and double-hull canoes as well as paddleboarding events. 

Spectators seeking front-row seats can reserve space on one of two catamarans that will be offering special trips on race day. Blue Sea Cruises, (808) 331-8875, has adult tickets priced at $40. For $50, Body Glove will include a continental breakfast and barbecue lunch with its special sailing. 


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