Steinlager/PAHIO Resorts Kauai World Challenge race recap

This second annual race really lived up to its name, World Challenge. It was brutal as conditions changed from calm seas to very strong head winds on the last two legs making for difficult forward progress. This opened up the competition, as no one was favored in these elements. Generally, the Hawaiians are favored in normal trade winds due to their superior surfing skill. A great international field of over 100 teams competed with paddlers representing South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Canada, California, and of course, Hawaii. The first two legs offered very calm conditions. Leigh Wilson, from Sydney Australia, broke away from the huge group of paddlers in the men’s division at the first change that was located at beautiful Hanama‘ulu Beach Park. Maui local, Lauren Spalding, having just qualified to represent the U.S. at the Olympics in the K-2 and K-4, took the early lead in the women’s open division. In the highly competitive mixed men/women teams, Kauai’s David Beck held a slight lead over New Zealander Rick Nu‘u.

Coming into Kalapaki Beach for the second change, the paddlers were greeted by some fun surf along the cliffs, and the Rohotu Tahitian dancers and drums on the beach. What an incredible sight! The Australians still held the lead with Aaron Bitmead of Queensland out in front at that point. Cherisse Keli‘i, from Kona, held the lead over Lisa Curry-Kenny of Queensland, Australia. In the mixed, Canadian Lori Velisek had overtaken Noe Sawyer from Kaua‘i. The crowd on the beach was yelling their encouragement to their favorite paddlers.

By the middle of the third leg, at Kipu Kai, the wind turned against the paddlers making the rest of the race a battle of strength, endurance and determination in the pounding swells. Mike Judd from Kona overtook the Australians with a slight lead at Koloa Landing, and about 10 minutes ahead of last year’s winner, Aaron Napolean. Lauren Spalding held a 3 minute lead in trying conditions in the women’s group. David Beck had regained the lead in the competitive mixed division.

The fourth leg of the race from Koloa Landing to Salt Pond would prove to be the most difficult due to heavy westerly conditions. Normally this would have been a fun down wind surfing run. It was anything but fun, and only described as “gnarly”, “awful”, “brutal”! By that point many teams had to withdraw due to time limits, equipment breakdowns, and fatigue. Congratulations to everyone who finished the entire course no matter where you finished!

World champion Oscar Chalupsky and his brother Herman, from South Africa, dominated the surfski division from start to finish, coming in ahead of the Australian team of Dean Gardiner and David Kissane. Top Hawaii surfskiers, Mark Sandvold and Marshall Rosa, came in third.

The final results for OC1 canoes were surprizing at the Salt Pond finish line. Kea Pa‘iaina from Oahu showing amazing strength and strong will, came from 7th place and a 10 minute gap (at Koloa Landing) just finishing ahead of Tapa Worthington, also of Oahu, in nearly a photo finish. In third was Greg Long from Sydney also making up a large deficit. In the women’s division, Lisa Curry-Kenny, ex Olympian from Queensland Australia, showed her incredible power in coming in first over Cherisse Keli‘i. Canadian, Lori Velisek, did a super job in finishing first in the mixed.

In the age group divisions, legendary waterman, Nick Beck from Hanalei, and Cappy Sheeley, both over 60 years old, finished first in the 50 + group. In the men’s 40 – 49 it was Kauai’s Steve Cole and Oahu’s Mark Riggs showing their superior endurance by coming in first, Mike Silva and Mike Hangai, both of Oahu, came in first in the men’s 30-39, and the team of Jacob Abeytia and Mael Carey of Maui took honors in the 20 – 29 men’s division. There was a strong field of mixed OC2s (2 men and 2 women) with Brian Carter, Beth Carter, John Husak, and Cheryl Villegas taking first place honors. See complete results.

The post race party was another huge hit with entertainment provided by Tommy and Malia, Rohotu, Papa‘a Bay Boys, and surprise guest star Raiatea Helm from Molokai who was sensational! Mahalo to Kaua‘i Mayor, Brian Baptiste, for being there, the Kauai Visitors Bureau, Hawaii Tourism Authority, and YMCA for their help in making the Steinlager/PAHIO Kaua‘i World Challenge possible. Huge thanks also to Steinlager (after that grueling paddle, the beer certainly hit the spot!) and PAHIO Resorts for their major financial support as well as Starbucks and Hawaiian Airlines for their important contribution. The race could not have happened without the 60+ volunteers who helped along the way, the Kaua‘i Lifeguards and Coast Guard Auxiliary who made sure everyone was safe. Also many thanks to the hotels/condos who provided accommodations for some of the international and out-of-state paddlers and manned aid stations: Aloha Beach Resort, Sheraton Kaua‘i, Kaua‘i Marriott, Radisson Kaua‘i, Hyatt Regency Kaua‘i, Kaua‘i Beach Villas (M/M John Burton and ResortQuest) , Greg Strickland of Garden Island Properties, Aston Islander on the Beach, and Princeville Resort.


[Complete Results, Photos, etc.]

Posted by keizo on Thu, 05/13/2004 - 7:21pm

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