Molokai Challenge Lives up to its Name
By 10 a.m. Saturday the beach in front of the Embassy Suites north of Lahaina was packed with huge brightly-colored kites, some as wide as 50 feet. Almost as colorful was the multinational group of 84 kiteboarders and windsurfers, who busied themselves rigging gear or sprawled under a tree, waiting, hoping, praying for even a breath of wind.
The athletes were assembled for the fourth annual Molokai Ocean Challenge, a benefit for Youth In Motion, an organization dedicated to getting Molokai’s youth active in sports.
At 11 a.m., the event’s scheduled start time, the wind had picked up to a whisper, but it was coming from the east. By 12:30 two kiteboarders, unable to wait any longer, had paddled nearly two miles out into the channel to reach the wind line. Around 1:30 everyone began packing up and hitching rides up the coast to Flemmings beach, where the wind was strong enough to take them out to the channel. Eventually all 84 participants made it across to Molokai, which was a great relief to Clare Seeger Mawae, race organizer and founder of YIM.
"I was making some pretty heavy duty prayers,” said Seeger Mawae. “So I was happy when people started coming in. The whole move was pretty amazing how we made it all happen.”
Due to the staggered, free-for-all start of the race, there was no official winner declared. But it was clear from watching the kiteboarders race around Kamalo Wharf and launch themselves into the air, that they were more interested in having fun than winning.
“It was all good at the end of the day,” said Seeger Mawae. “Everyone had a blast, everyone said it was a huge success. Next year we’re going to have two launch locations.”
Mawae estimates that the event brought in $3,000 to $4,000. The funds will be used to support the Na `Opio Hana Pa`a, a festival that accompanies the race and provides sports clinics for Molokai youth. This year there were six clinics run by coaches from the University of Hawai`i. Between 70 and 80 kids participated in the clinics and other activities in Malama Park Saturday.