EVENT: Paddlers and spectators celebrate the ocean at OluKai’s Ho’olaule’a
Paddlers and spectators celebrate the ocean at OluKai’s Ho’olaule’a
In its second year, the OluKai Ho’olaule’a features strong tailwind for competitors and rich lineup of cultural activities for everyone in attendance.
OluKai’s Ho’olaule’a, supporting the company’s ‘Ohana Giveback Program, returned to the Lae ‘Ula O Kai Canoe Club at Kanaha Beach Park in Maui over the weekend welcoming hundreds of competitors, enthusiasts, locals and visitors to the ocean celebration. The OC-1 and standup paddleboard races saw twice the number of participants from the event’s 2009 debut. Racers took full advantage of the tailwind throughout the race as they vied for a piece of the $15,000 prize purse. Paddlers, families and other visitors shared the camaraderie, gorgeous weather, Hawaiian games, hula performance, luau and music by John Cruz.
“OluKai is humbled by the generosity of everyone that worked together to make the Second Annual Ho’olaule’a a special event,” says Kerry Konrady, OluKai Marketing Director. “Thank you to the island of Maui for sharing your Aloha spirit and welcoming everyone who traveled to participate in the Ho’olaule’a.”
Nearly 300 elite watermen, waterwomen, and enthusiasts paddle raced the famous Maliko “downwinder” on Maui’s North Shore. The “downwinder” was in great form with a 12 knot tailwind propelling paddlers through the eight-mile stretch of open ocean from Maliko Gulch to the Lae ‘Ula O Kai Canoe Club at Kanaha Beach. Many racers finished in under an hour. Interest in the SUP race exploded in the last year with 220 entries. Another 72 paddlers entered the OC-1 category.
Livio Menelau, originally from Brazil, but now living in Haiku, California's Danny Ching and local favorite Dave Kalama stayed together in front of the pack throughout the SUP race. Ching led for the first half before Menelau found several surge swells to take the lead. He took first place in the men’s elite SUP race with a time of 0:52:37.3 less than 100 yards in front of Ching and Kalama.
Danny Ching came back Sunday to win the OC-1 elite race with a shockingly fast time of 0:46:37.9. With two finishes under one hour, Andrea Moller repeated her 2009 OluKai Ho’olaule’a sweep by winning both the SUP and OC-1 races on the women’s side. A $15,000 prize purse was shared equally between the men’s and women’s division of each racing discipline: OC-1 and SUP. Full race results are available at http://www.olukai.com/NewsEvents.aspx
"Right on for OluKai for making the prize money equal for men and women,” says Andrea Moller, repeat winner of both the SUP and OC-1 women’s races. “I hope this motivated more women to come out and race. It is really special for us to be supported equally.”
Beyond the races, guests enjoyed traditional Hawaiian games hosted by Maui Cultural Lands, sailing canoe rides on the HSCA champion vessel Kamakakoa, Lae ‘Ula O Kai canoe club’s traditional luau with imu (pig roast) and a Hula performance by Hula Halau Alapa'i I Maluuluolele before John Cruz took the stage. Families relaxed on the park grass for Cruz’s performance that started with a dramatic plumeria drop over the crowd followed by a traditional Hawaiian conch blowing ceremony and an Oli chant by Vene Chun.
"OluKai is a great organization giving back to the community and really helping the lifeguards,” says Kalani Vierra, Kauai’s head lifeguard, who took third place in a recreational SUP race. “Their Ho’olaule’a is a great event that the whole family can enjoy."
Part of the proceeds from the OluKai Ho’olaule’a go to the OluKai ‘Ohana Giveback Program. Beneficiaries include the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association/Junior Lifeguard Program, Maui Cultural Lands and Team Kamakakoa, champions of the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association.