If you have plans on the Big Island this weekend and want to see hundreds of the world’s best paddlers in action, head down to Kona for The 41st Annual Queen Liliuokalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Races, the world’s largest long-distance canoe race, organized by Kai Opua Canoe Club.
This race originated on Oahu during the 1950s. Back then, the club held 18-mile training races starting at Keehi Lagoon, passing Diamond Head and ending up at Kailua Beach. This was in preparation of the Molokai Hoe, an open ocean race crossing the treacherous Kaiwi Channel between Molokai and Oahu. One of the club’s chairmen decided to name the event after Queen Liliuokalani because her birthday falls on Sept. 2.
Saturday kicks off the three-day event with single-hull canoe races Waa Kaukahi, followed by an awards ceremony and a torchlight parade. Sunday’s events include double-hull canoe races Waa Kaulua, stand-up paddleboarding, keiki and teen single-hull canoe races and a luau. Monday wraps up the festivities with the Alii Challenge, a blend of reality television game shows Survivor and Amazing Race on single-hull canoes with 12-person crews.