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Molokai Holokai Goes Virtual

Molokai Holokai from 2019. Photo by PF Bentley.

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

Like every other sporting event last year, COVID-19 cancelled the annual 2020 Molokai Holokai, a paddling competition of friendly fun for locals as well as acclaimed paddlers and stand up paddlers of all ages. The pandemic also cancelled this summer’s event due to state rules and restrictions, said organizer Clare Albino. But then she decided to try something different – a virtual competition.

“Participants can make their own course in any place, anywhere in the world to make their distances and even break it down in stages and or days,” said Albino, explaining participants upload pictures and times to a virtual leader board, allowing the event to continue during a window that’s open right now.

This year, Youth in Motion, the organization that hosts the Molokai Holokai, opened a virtual window of dates from June 25 to July 12. Typically, the weekend-long event includes a channel crossing from Maui to Molokai, followed by a five to 10-mile course along Molokai’s south shore for a Keiki and Makua Race. That is still happening this year, just informally, Albino said.

“The main purpose of this event was to encourage a healthy lifestyle, some vigorous fun for the families, and try to get the kids out on the ocean, a natural environment for so many Molokai families,” said Albino. “The Keiki and Makua race has always been the main focus point of the event, inviting youth and their families to have some ocean fun and paddle a short downwind course to the finish line.”

She said Youth in Motion will be holding an informal Ho’olaulea on Saturday, July 10 around 11 a.m. at the Molokai Canoe Shack.

“Families can go and have some fun on any of the recommended courses, thankfully because of the lifted restrictions,” said Albino. “We have a mini down run along the shoreline of the canoe beach, race out to the raft and back, paddle along the lee of the wharf to the swim area, or even start from Rice Patch and paddle to the wharf.”

The free event will have medals and T-shirts for youth participants, donated by a supporter.

Families can bring their own equipment or sign out gear available through Youth in Motion to complete one of the courses, according to Albino. Register online at MolokaiHolokai.com, with free registration for youth with code MolokaiHolokai2021 and adults get a 50 percent discount with code Molokailocal2021. Contact Clare or Gordon Albino at 808-336-0946 or 808-658-6003 with questions.

“The event was inspired by an 8- and 10-year-old that had dreams of crossing the channel back in 2003 and in many ways an inspiration that youth have so many opportunities at their fingertips if they dare to dream,” said Albino. “Those two youngsters and the ones that followed in the following years went on to do some great things. The event also inspired some Molokai youth to also paddle the channel back in the day like Alex Mawae who did this seven times, starting at 9 years old.”

Though the event might look a little different this year, Albino said they are “building up to a super fun event for 2022.”

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