Economy and Moloka'i below the article in today's Honolulu Advertiser:

Distance races paddling into financial debt
by Dayton Morinaga

The state's premier canoe races are paddling against a rising tide of debt this year.

The women's Na Wahine O Ke Kai and the men's Moloka'i Hoe races are in a dire financial situation with the races less than two weeks away, according to officials.

"We're not getting the kind of (sponsorship) support we hoped for," women's race director Hannie Anderson said. "The economy has a lot to do with it, unfortunately. We didn't foresee it being this bad, so we didn't increase the entry fees for the teams. If the race were held today, we'd come up way short (financially)."

The Na Wahine O Ke Kai and Moloka'i Hoe are considered the world championship races for long-distance outrigger canoe paddling. The men's race has been running since 1952; the women's race since 1979.

A lack of corporate sponsorship and rising economic costs have contributed to increased debt for the races.

The last time a company served as a title sponsor for both races was Bank of Hawaii in 2001.

"We've filed for grants, we've put out proposals to companies all over the place ... we want to reach out to anybody," Anderson said. "It doesn't have to be a title sponsor. At this point, we'll take anything."

The Na Wahine O Ke Kai is scheduled for Sept. 28; the Moloka'i Hoe will run Oct. 12.

Nazarene Anderson, event director for the two races, said it will cost approximately $330,000 to run both races this year.

Current sponsors will cover around $140,000, and entry fees will cover another $100,000.

That still leaves about $90,000 uncovered, and officials are hoping merchandise sales — T-shirts and caps, mostly — can help.

Nazarene Anderson said state funding for the races was cut from $50,000 three years ago to $20,000 this year.

Hannie Anderson, who has served as race director of the Na Wahine O Ke Kai for all 30 years, said she has already had to use her personal credit card to pay for some of the expenses.

"I'm praying I can pay it off later," she said.

Both races are considered non-profit organizations, run mostly by volunteers.

But Hannie Anderson said there are "multiple things" to pay for that the general public might not be aware of.

For example, it costs around $225 to transport just one canoe from O'ahu to Moloka'i. More than 80 canoes are expected to race in the Na Wahine O Ke Kai, and more than 100 in the Moloka'i Hoe.

Entry fee is already $550 per crew, and Anderson said "it wouldn't be fair" to ask the teams to contribute more.

Even basic costs are rising. Hannie Anderson said it will cost around $7,500 to install portable toilets at Hale O Lono Harbor — the starting point of the race.

She added that increasing fuel and travel costs have also been a factor.

Hannie Anderson said both races will run this year, but a significant financial loss could hurt future races.

"This is our state sport and these are the biggest races in our sport," she said. "What are we doing wrong? If we don't get the support, what's going to happen to these races? I don't know, and I never thought I'd say that."

Nazarene Anderson said there were plans to turn the two Moloka'i-to-O'ahu races into "a two-week festival for paddling."

"But we can't even think about that right now because we just don't have the funds," she said.

As Shelly Gilman, treasurer for the women's race, put it: "In a nutshell, we need to find a guardian angel."

Submitted by mikalakayaker on Wed, 09/17/2008 - 5:43pm

my thoughts exactly when i read this article today. hope th' economy gets turned around. 't would be sad t' be havin' a voyage without a moloka`i hoe.

#1 Wed, 09/17/2008 - 6:42pm

I think the top crews would go back to the OG racing style.
You know:
Top Crew: "eh brah, what? you tink you can beat us across da channel?"
Other Crews: "ah, you kno dat!"
Top Crew: "we go den"
Other Crews: "Shoots, when you like race?"
Top Crew: "whenevas"
Other Crews: "shoots den, see you at Hale O Lono in 2 weeks brah!"

Next thing you know, there will be a race! That's how it started....and to steal a phrase from Goto...and thats a scientific fact!

Enjoy the ride!

#2 Wed, 09/17/2008 - 9:22pm

maybe that prize money for the winners should be put to race costs, its not much but its something

#3 Wed, 09/17/2008 - 9:28pm

Seems to me that although the race organization is a non profit . Just being a non profit doesn`t mean that big sponsors are going to line up at your door with money in hand for you.

Even though paddling is Hawaiisstate sport doesnt mean the big corporations are going to back it for that reason alone.

Most companys seem to like to have thier name associated with a purpose or cause them puts them in a favorable light with whomever thier trying to reach.

If the races were staged to raise money for a cause bigger than paddling maybe bigger sponsors would be attracted to it.

#4 Thu, 09/18/2008 - 2:13am

I'm with drkanupaddler, just have the race. Just tell people when and where.

Sponsors are great, but I'm sure crews would still show up just to race, screw the prizes. Meet, race, party. Sports sponsorship has expanded all sports by infusing $$$$ to make activities more appealing. But, I think a lot of people would agree with me, this also tends to ruin the true principles of sports.

Take pro baseball, basketball and football as an example. Those are great sports, but it's absurd to pay grown men hundreds of millions of dollars to play a kids game. You end up with people playing the sport only because they can get rich, do drugs, raise dogs for fighting, beat women and still be held up as idols. And that’s just the Dallas Cowboys.

We do it because we love it, it’s part of our life.

OC1 Driver

#5 Thu, 09/18/2008 - 11:15am

A race of this magnitude sans permits, insurance, safety boats, etc? Not sure that's realistic in this day and age, but it sure would be nice ;)

10 days and counting for the ladies...wheeee!

#6 Thu, 09/18/2008 - 11:36am

I think I prefer the safety boats to stay. But all the government stuff can go.

#7 Thu, 09/18/2008 - 11:50am

If all of the crews showed up with their canoes and chase boats, would they be prevented from racing without insurance and permits? Aren't all canoe clubs required to carry their own insurance?

So, let's say 100 canoes just, showed up without an organized race scheduled. And someone in our "mother-knows-best" government says, "You guys can't race. Now take your canoes and paddle back to Oahu." What's to stop two of those teams from challanging each other? Or three teams, or 20, or 50 or 100? Next thing you know, "THE RACE IS ON!!!"

OC1 Driver

#8 Thu, 09/18/2008 - 4:36pm

You know dat!

Enjoy the ride!

#9 Thu, 09/18/2008 - 9:04pm

Thanks for sharing this article, Mikalakayaker.

Its amazing, the job that Hannie and her crew does this year after year. My endless thanks to them for the effort in planning and logistics, behind the scene details that the athletes never get to see but come race day, over a thousand paddlers can enjoy it all.

For some of us, these are financially tough times so canoe paddling is a welcome blessing in all the chaos.

The news article highlights an important point I think as to why its so essential that local media support local sports. Its a free and effective marketing tool to promote the sport and keep it alive in terms of the minds of potential sponsors, it will help to draw sponsorships.

With the current financial crisis and increased cost of running a huge event such as the Moloka'i crossings, new and innovative marketing tools are going to be needed as such is the case with the hawaii tourism authority.

In the mean time, having Dayton Morinaga of the Honolulu Advertiser consistently provide coverage for this sport in the press is an essential and no-cost marketing for the sport. His coverage of the "less prestigious" distance races are essential in building the excitement for spectators and paddling enthusiast as the date draws closer to the Na Wahine O Ke Kai and Moloka'i Hoe.

I cannot say the same for the Star Bulletin and wrote a personal letter to the Sports Editor, Paul Arnett ( back in Sept 9th, inquiring as to why a Brazilian Volleyball player for UH HIlo was covered in the Hawaii Beat of the Star Bulletin over not just canoe paddling but other local sports in Honolulu, so, it was nice to finally see a write up from the Bulletin for the Henry Ayau race after a long silence. Mahalo to Brian McInnis and Mike Burley of the Star Bulletin for that!

For all of us who love this sport, we need the media support, and should not take their contributions for granted. Media plays an important role in providing that base marketing for us, and helps to keep it front and center. When soliciting for potential sponsors, it helps that they can see there are sports coverage in the press. The Advertiser has a higher readership than the Star Bulletin, so we're really fortunate in that respect that Dayton Morinaga has done the write-ups for the races that he has.

If you have a moment, I think he would be glad to hear you also appreciate his contributions.

#10 Thu, 09/18/2008 - 9:58pm

Buy Advertiser! Dayton for president!

#11 Thu, 09/18/2008 - 10:53pm

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