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Women athletes to compete in the Super Bowl of ocean canoe racing | Events

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Women athletes to compete in the Super Bowl of ocean canoe racing
Women athletes to compete in the Super Bowl of ocean canoe racing

The following information is provided by Na Wahine o Ke Kai:

HONOLULU, Hawaii —Women from around the globe are in final preparations to compete in this year’s Na Wahine O Ke Kai—meaning, “women of the sea”—the premier competition for female athletes in the sport of outrigger canoe racing. This year will mark the 34th crossing of the treacherous Kaiwi Channel; once considered too dangerous for women until 1975 when a group of women challenged that notion. Organizers anticipate 60-100 crews will compete in this year’s race, including clubs from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Guam and the Continental United States.

The course is a daunting 41-mile, non-stop race from the island of Moloka’i to the island of O’ahu, taking a crew of 10-12 (depending on division) approximately 5-6 hours to complete. Crew changes occur every 20-30 minutes in the open ocean, with paddlers in the canoe rolling over one side while the rested paddlers climb into the canoe from the other side. Crews contending for the title must endure major training and preparation for months in order to complete the race.

Race Director Hannie Anderson has watched outrigger canoe racing develop into an international sport over the course of her lifetime. “My love for this race is deep because it represents the power and potential of women. To see a thousand women in canoes gather on the shores of Moloka’i and set out to challenge the unknown of the Kaiwi is an amazing site to behold. We set out to create a movement for the sport of women’s paddling and we did it. This race and the women who come back every year to participate are a testament to that.” 

Of Polynesian origin, the canoes are about 45-feet long and weigh around 400-pounds. Six paddlers sit evenly spaced the length of the canoe, which is very narrow at only about two feet wide and is stabilized by an ama, a 10-foot long float which is connected to the canoe by two wooden struts called iako. It is this catamaran design that allows the canoes to venture into large open ocean swells.

Race Date: September 23, 2012
Race start: 8:00 a.m., Hale O Lono Harbor, Moloka’i
Ending at Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Waikiki (Fronting the Hilton Hawaiian Village)

For additional info and pre-race activities on Molokai please visit the website at: www.nawahineokekai.com.

A Big Mahalo to Our Sponsors: Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kialoa,  Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa  Hawaiian Electric Co., Hawaiian Accessories, Paddlers’ Inn, Pacific Paddler, Friendly Market, Molokai

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