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Fall Outrigger Races Canceled

By Jack Kiyonaga, Editor 

The Molokai Hoe, Na Wahine o Ke Kai and Pailolo Challenge outrigger channel races will not run this year. 

“This decision has been made in response to the unfolding federal crisis on Maui, where fires have ravaged the island and left communities grappling with the aftermath,” explained a news release regarding the Molokai Hoe cancelation from the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association (OHCRA). 

With residents of West Maui still reeling from deadly and devastating fires, Molokai Hoe and Na Wahine O Ke Kai organizers each hoped to redirect resources and energy towards recuperation efforts on Maui. 

“Given the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to allocate all available Maui County resources to support the Maui community impacted by the fires, OHCRA believes that postponing this year’s Molokai Hoe is not only a responsible course of action, but also a demonstration of unity and solidarity during times of crisis,” explained the OHCRA press release. 

The Pailolo Challenge from Maui to Molokai was scheduled for Sept. 16, with the Na Wahine O Ke Kai set for Sept. 24, and the Molokai Hoe following on Oct. 8, running between Molokai and Oahu.

The races attract hundreds paddlers from around the globe, along with historically celebrating the sport of canoe paddling in Hawaii. Race organizers are contacting crews individually to let them know the races have been canceled. Athletes who bought specially scheduled flights on Mokulele for the race will be reimbursed, according to a Facebook post from one of the facilitators of the races, Lori-lei Rawlins-Crivello. 

“We can always plan a race but right now Maui needs us,” said Rawlins-Crivello. “All of our focus should be on the healing of Maui.” 

“We’re all connected. We’re all affected…it’s a pono thing to do,” she explained.

While none of the races have run since 2019 due to COVID, race organizers remain optimistic about its future. 

“Molokai Hoe is an event steeped in tradition, cherished by paddlers and enthusiasts alike. The decision to cancel this year’s race was not made lightly, as we understand the disappointment it may cause to our participants and supporters. However, our commitment to the well-being of our communities and our fellow Hawaiians takes precedence, and we believe that redirecting our efforts and resources towards aiding those affected by the fires is a testament to the values that bind us as a community,” explained the OHCRA press release. 

A GoFundMe page had been set up for donations to repair the road to Hale O Lono in preparation for these fall races. According to Na Wahine O Ke Kai board members, these financial contributions will be saved and used next year to renovate the road. 

“As mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts, our hearts ache for the loss of life and property,” said the post from Na Wahine O Ke Kai. “Please hold the Maui community in your thoughts and prayers. Consider making a financial donation to assist our brave and resilient community in the rebuilding process.”


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