Does any country dominate a single sport the way Tahiti rules open ocean paddle racing? With Shell Va’a’s eighth straight Molokai Hoe victory on Sunday — and a repeat Tahitian sweep of the top three spots — it seems unlikely that any other country can challenge Tahiti in the world championship race across the Kaiwi Channel.
In its 61st year, the Molokai Hoe attracts the top paddling teams from around the world. While a majority of the 99 participating teams hailed from Hawaii, also represented were teams from Canada, France, Japan and Australia. Over 1,000 paddlers and their escort boats crowded into Hale O Lono Harbor on the southwest shore of Molokai Sunday morning.
The conditions for the 41-mile race to Waikiki were calm and did not allow Shell Va’a to challenge its record-setting time. This year’s winning time was 4 hours, 54 minutes, 35 seconds, nowhere near the 4:30:54 the team paddled in 2011.
Less than a minutes behind Shell Va’a was competitor EDT Va‘a (4:54:11). Taha‘a Nui Va‘a (5:07:54), Mellow Johnny’s from the Big Island (5:09:31) and Team Primo from Maui (5:16:56) rounded out the top five.
Last year, Molokai was represented by the Wa’akapaemua Canoe Club, which finished in 16th place. This year no Molokai team was entered.