Battling 41 miles of swells across the Kaiwi Channel normally presents the biggest challenge to the women paddlers in the Na Wahine O Ke Kai race.
But yesterday morning, with a shore break at Hale O Lono Harbor measuring 8-10 foot Hawaiian (face height of the wave), just paddling to the starting line proved more hazardous than the race itself.
At 7:46 a.m., six firefighters and two fire rescue jet skis from the Ho’olehua and Kaunakakai fire stations were dispatched to Hale O Lono Harbor. The report came in that five canoes were swamped with 30 people in the water, according to Maui County Fire Chief Lee Mainaga.
But when fire units arrived at 8:38 a.m. they found 10 canoes swamped while attempting to paddle out of the harbor for an 8 a.m. scheduled start. Na Wahine O Ke Kai is considered the world championship that culminates the six-person outrigger canoe racing season for women.
A 30-year-old Kailua woman, from the Kailua Canoe Club, was injured after a large wave swamped their canoe. She complained of pain to her shoulder and ribs. She was transported by the event’s medical escort vessel back to shore where she was taken by ambulance to Molokai General Hospital. There were no other reported injuries.
Of the 10 swamped canoes, nine went on to start the race. One canoe was damaged and was towed back to shore by event boats.
Race results and more details on the race conditions will be reported tomorrow in The Molokai News.