Maui News

“Worldʻs Largest Canoe Race” Kicks Off Next Week 

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Paddlers from around the world will converge to Kona next week for the 2019 Queen Liliʻuokalani Long Distance Canoe Race. 

The races begin on Aug. 29 and run through Sep. 2, the birthday of the eventʻs namesake and Hawaiʻiʻs last reigning monarch. 

The signature 18-mile long distance race is set for Aug. 31. 

More than 75 Hawaiʻi teams will compete amongst the 130 crews that are expected to hit the starting lines in Kailua Bay and Hōnaunau. 

The festival will also include a cultural fair, torchlight parade, and lūʻau. 

The Aug. 31 race will be live-streamed on the Queen Liliʻuokalani Canoe Race Facebook page beginning at 7:30 a.m. HST. 


More information is available here.

Here is a schedule of 2019 Queen Lili’uokalani Canoe Race events: 

Saturday, Aug. 29:  

Historic Kailua Village Cultural Walk (8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.): Free event lead by noted historian Hannah Kihalani Springer.  Attendees will meet on the beach at Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.

Queen Lili’uokalani Cultural Fair (10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.): This event will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. Artisans and cultural practitioners will lead demonstrations and provide hands-on learning opportunities for a wide variety of traditional Hawaiian crafts. Crafts and local art will be on display during the all-day fair. 


Hulakai OC4 (4 person canoes) Sprint Relay Race (2:00 p.m.): Race heats start at Kailua Pier. This fun sprint race consists of a relay team of eight that will paddle in an OC4 canoe. The race takes place in the bay just off the Kailua pier and will require that one team member do a short Stand-Up (SUP) segment in addition to paddling. 

Friday, Aug. 30:

Ho’okūkū Lanalana, Rigging Clinic and Challenge (12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.): Hands-on rigging clinic, followed by crews of four competing to lash a seaworthy canoe that displays both strength and aesthetics. 

Talk Story at Hulihee Palace (4:00 p.m.): An informal talk with John Puakea, an internationally sought after canoe builder as well as a championship-winning paddling coach, whose career as a canoeing innovator and promoter has evolved with the expanding paddling sports market.  

Saturday, Aug. 31 


Signature Long Distance Canoe Race- Wa’a Kaukahi (single-hull canoes)

  • 7:30 a.m. Women and Mix 40+ start in Kailua Bay
  • 11:45 a.m. Men and Mix Open start in Honaunau Bay

Torchlight Parade (7:00 p.m.): Torchlight parade through Historic Kailua Village starts at 7:00 pm. Race participants meet at Hale Halawai County Pavilion. Parade then winds its way through Historic Kailua Village and ends at Kailua Pier. 

Sunday, Sept. 1

7:00 a.m. at Kailua Pier:

Teen (single-hull canoes): Four teen divisions (OC6-6 person crews) 14, 15, 16, 18 and under, Mix 18 and under. Competitors follow the same course as the double hull canoes.

 Wa’a Kaulua (double-hull canoes): Crews of 12 paddlers lash together two single-hull canoes to make the double hulls. Throughout the morning, the double hulls are raced in women, men, and mix divisions. 

OC1 (one person) & OC2 Races (two-person): The OC1 and OC2 canoe races are a recent addition to the more traditional racing events. The men and women paddling in this one follow the same course as the double-hull canoes.

Stand-up Paddleboard Race- Starting in Kailua Bay, the SUP race heads south and back to finish at the Kailua Pier. Stock boards race 3.5 miles. Boards are available for rent from the Hulakai booth on the pier or Kona Boys at Kamakahonu Bay.

Queen Liliuokalani Canoe Race Lūʻau (2:00 p.m.): This Hawaiian celebration features traditional foods, music, dance and award presentations for Sunday race winners. The cost is $10 for non-race participants.

Monday, Sept. 2

Kūpuna Classic (8:00 a.m.): Mix (3 Wahine/3 Kane) iron crews paddle to Banyans, turn and finish at the Kailua Pier. 

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