Started in 1978, this race was originally created as a men’s distance race from Kahului Harbor to Ka`anapali. The course is approx. 32 miles. Many years later the start was moved to Maliko Gulch and then a women’s division was also added.
The race starts at Maliko Bay and heads towards Kahakuloa. This is a fun downwind section, sometimes with lots of wind and swell. It is always interesting to see what course a crew takes, straight downwind in the direction of Iao Valley, towards Kahakuloa Village or more northerly directly to Nakalele Point. At this point, some crews opt to shoot the gap at Three Sisters. This has proven very dangerous for some. Paddlers have broken ribs taking this course. After Three Sisters, canoes hug the coast all the way to Hanakao`o as the winds can be brutal. Crews dodge turtles and divers and need to avoid shallow reef and a few surf breaks. The last change is Black Rock with the race ending in front of the canoe hale’s at Canoe Beach.
Canoes have been lost and badly damaged during this race. The Great Kahakuloa Race is not for novices.
Divisions include Open Women (10 women), Open Men (9 men), Master Men (9 men), 50+ men (12 men) and Mixed Men & Women. With approval from NKE’s Kahakuloa Race Director, Junior crews may enter. Official entries use OC-6 canoes only. We have welcomed unlimited crews as unofficial entries in the past.
Use of canvas and an escort boat are mandatory!
Lunch sponsored by Leilani’s and awards ceremony follows the conclusion of the race.