The Tahitians continue to dominate the Molokai Hoe as the Shell Va’a team captured its sixth straight title yesterday in the world championship of open ocean outrigger canoe racing.
Only one boat was even within 12 minutes of Shell Va’a’s record-setting time of 4 hours, 30 minutes, 54 seconds in crossing the Kaiwi Channel 41 miles from Hale O Lono Harbor to Waikiki. The second-place EDT Va’a Tahiti team finished in 4:36:45, also topping Shell Va’a’s previous course record of 4:38:35 set in 2008.
Finishing third in 4:42:59 was Team Primo, an all-star crew composed of Hawaii paddlers from around the islands.
The 20-25 mph winds created favorable currents and conditions that helped produce the record times recorded on Sunday.
Strong representation from Molokai came from the Wa’akapaemua Canoe Club that finished 18th out of 59 teams in the Open Glass division despite a crack in its ‘ama, or outrigger float. The team of Clint Sherwood-Labrador, Asa Ward, Chad, Bozo, Keola, Clancy, Titus, John-Russell, and Bryan (last names not available) finished in a time of 5:30:54.
The Lanikai Canoe Club placed first in the Koa Canoe division in a time of 5:29:42.
When the Molokai Hoe first began in 1952, three Koa canoes launch through the surf at Kawakiu Bay on Molokai’s west side. Powered by six paddlers, each of the canoes was bound for Oahu across 38-plus miles of open ocean in the Ka’iwi Channel. Eight hours and 55 minutes later, the Molokai canoe, Kukui O Lanikaula, landed on the beach at Waikiki in front of the Moana Hotel. Thus began the world’s most prestigious outrigger canoe race, the Molokai Hoe.
Since then the race has expanded considerably. This year’s 59th crossing featured more than 1,000 paddlers and 106 teams from around the world participating in what’s considered the Super Bowl of long distance outrigger canoe paddling.