Molokai plays a key role in several exciting canoe races which attract paddlers from around the world.These races, which involve outrigger canoes consisting of teams of six, cross the two channels surrounding the island of Molokai, battling the long distance and rough water with determination and team work.
The first race starts on Saturday, September 14th with the Pailolo Challenge. This 25 mile canoe race begins on Maui’s D.T. Fleming Beach Park and crosses the Pailolo Channel to finish at Molokai’s Kanuanakai Pier. The top teams come in just under three hours.
The Pailolo Challenge is soon followed by the Na Wahine O Kekai and the Molokai Hoe.
The Na Wahine O Kekai takes place on September 22nd and has been occurring annually since 1979. This women’s race is over 38 miles, crossing the Kaiwi Channel from Molokai to Oahu where the race ends at Fort DeRussy Beach Park. Team Bradley has won this race several times including six consecutive wins from 2004-2010 and again in 2012. Top times average around five to six hours depending on conditions.
The Molokai Hoe, an annual men’s race since 1952, occurs two weeks later on October 13. It begins on Molokai and crosses the Kaiwi Channel to Oahu’s Fort DeRussy Beach Park. The team Shell Va’a has come in first the last few years with times between four hours and thirty minutes and five hours and fifteen minutes.