Day 8: Race Day.

It’s finally here. Race day. There is excitement in the air as everybody put on their special race tops! Everyone is ready. A sophisticated plan, consisting of 2 paddling crews, a support boat lead, and a land support crew, is about to be executed.

Our participants for the 20th Annual Na Pali Challenge are:


  • Jen Allan (combined crew with Niumalu Canoe Club)
  • Cathy Panetta (combined crew with Niumalu Canoe Club)
  • Charlotte Richards (combined crew with Niumalu Canoe Club)
  • Amanda Wylie
  • Nicola Frowen
  • Rachel Mosen
  • Elita Seow (club friend)
  • Kerry Davenport
  • Linda Ng
  • Ian Amos
  • Tony Compton (club friend)
  • Geoff Eldridge
  • Albert Au
  • Brad Smith (club friend)
  • Grant Hughes (club friend)


  • Kirsty Holmes – support boat lead
  • Paul Webster – land support
  • Carol Compton – club friend and land support
  • Kristen Reed – club friend and land support

This is my first big mass-start race, and it’s so exciting to see 50+ canoes take over a beach! Here’s a video of how things looked like at the race start. (right click on link and choose Save)

On top of being a big race for me, it was also a cultural experience. The youth teams held hands and prayed in their language before their race start. The adults didn’t have to pray, possibly because of the number of overseas teams. But activities like this remind me of just why sports like outrigger canoeing, and dragon boating, are much more than just a contest of technique and conditioning, the measurement of margins, and the extraction of recognition.

Once the ceremonies are done, we proceed to the racing! The women began the race in a Le Mans-style start, where the driver (our steerer Linda) ran towards our canoe and boarded it, and the race kicks off. (right click on link and choose Save) The men swam out to our support boat, which, after 15 minutes, were allowed to drive out of the bay, towards the racing canoe.

Rather than do a complete recount of the race, my thoughts will what I personally found new and different.

  • The variety of water conditions, within a race. Downwind paddling conditions, to flat water, to air-time and slamming of canoes into the water. The first portion of the race was in reasonably good conditions, but there were a frenzy of motor boats, ducking and weaving among the race canoes, trying to find space to support a change but not impede other crews (or cause a capsize with wash). We almost capsized our canoe during a change, but thanks to our skill (or luck haha) we didn’t end up having to bail our canoe. 😀
  • At the end of the race (where we were 20th across the line), the teams all came together at a marquee for lunch and drinks. That’s something different to our OC races in Australia – OC races in Hawaii are all about bringing people together. I believe the facilitating of mingling could be valuable to OC back home.
  • Another new experience for me is, throughout the race, we had to stay hydrated and fed, and we had Kirsty to thank for that! Such a trooper, reminded us to nibble, to drink, and helped us re-apply sun screen.
  • In post-race celebrations at the condo, it’s totally acceptable to play loud rap music like Drop It Like It’s Hot. The neighbours love it. They were rapping it when we left the condo and happen to bump into each other!

In summary, I loved racing the Na Pali Challenge, and can’t wait to do it again! Join us for our next paddling campaign – dragon boating’s highest honour – the Club Crew World Championships, in Hungary.

Photo: PD Chicks racing in 2 crews – PDs crew in the foreground, PDs and Niumalu combined crew in the background.