Six paddlers, three islands, two days — that’s what the annual Pa’a ‘Eono Hoe race is all about.
The second annual race took place over the weekend, beginning Saturday with the Pailolo Channel from Maui to Molokai. Swells in the 10-15 foot range were reported by participants after landing in Kaunakakai Harbor.
The next day, racers conquered the Kaiwi Channel, following the same course as the Molokai Hoe race from Papohaku Beach to Maunalua Bay, 32 miles away on Oahu.
Winning both stages of the race and repeating as champions was Team Kamanu. The team from Kailua finished in 2 hours, 34 minutes, 23 seconds in the first stage and 3:44.55 for the second stage. They topped the second-place Livestrong team by over 23 minutes in combined time.
In the inaugural race last year, Team Kamanu finished the Kaiwi Channel in 3:56.40, slower than this year’s winning time of 3:44.55. Livestrong placed second last year as well.
The biggest difference between this race and the Molokai Hoe — widely considered the world championship for six-man outrigger canoe races — is that paddlers cannot be substituted in the Pa’a ‘Eono Hoe. In the Open division, the same six paddlers that start must also finish. One of the interesting features of the Molokai Hoe is watching replacement paddlers roll off the escort boat and into the canoe.
Another major difference is that last year the race did not include the Maui to Molokai leg on Saturday.
One goal of the Pa’a ‘Eono Hoe is to establish guidelines that allow builders to create faster racing canoes while keeping most of the basic design concepts of what constitutes a six-man outrigger canoe. The intent is not to lift all design restrictions, which may lead to radical manipulations and questions about what defines a canoe.
In the future, the Pa’a race series will explore the possibility of six-man outrigger canoe paddling becoming an Olympic sport. Developing canoes with some of these specifications will allow the sport to be considered for the Olympics one day.