5 Things You Didn’t Know About the 2016 OluKai Ho’olaule’a
When it comes to the OluKai Ho’olaule’a--Maui’s marquee downwind race on the North Shore’s legendary Maliko Run--there’s not a whole lot SUP hasn’t covered. Every spring the Ho’olaule’a returns with the wind to Maliko Gulch, and with it returns SUP magazine, faithfully bringing you insightful previews, exclusive imagery, real-time results and robust recaps live from Maui’s downwind Mecca. Come Saturday, April 30th, our entire editorial team (minus Editor in Chief, Will Taylor, who will be busy competing in the event’s open division) will be on the water at Maliko, covering the Ho’olaule’a live once again.
If you need to brush up on your OluKai fun facts and stats, take a scroll through our archived content from the OluKai Ho’olaule’a. You’ll quickly learn everything there is to know about the Ho’o…almost everything, that is.
Here we present you five lesser-known facts about the 8th annual OluKai Ho’olaule’a.
A Staggering Start
Traditionally, the OluKai kicks off with the grand gamut of eager downwind racers staged at the start-line, hundreds of amateurs standing shoulder-to-shoulder with elites in a windy mess outside of Maliko Gulch. While it makes for an interesting kick-off, the process of getting off the line with hundreds of other racers is a bit of a mess as the elites inevitably out-stroke the recreational paddlers. This year, there will be a staggered start, with pro racers launching around 30 minutes behind the open racers, a formula that should provide more structure and less chaos…but no promises.
‘Ohana Fun Paddle
This one’s for the enthusiast who longs to be involved but lacks the experience to take on the entirety of the Maliko Run. The 'Ohana (Hawaiian for “family”) Fun Paddle is a non-timed, non-competitive three-mile fun paddle that gives all members of the community a chance to get out in the water at Maliko. It starts at 9am Saturday with a beach launch from Paia Bay and a water finish at Kanaha Beach Park, and it’s open to all human-powered watercraft, including but not limited to standup paddleboard, prone paddleboard, surfski, kayak and outrigger canoe (OC1, OC2, OC4, OC6).
On Friday morning, April 29th (the eve of the main race), a demo day will be held at Kanaha Beach, featuring opportunities to try boards, meet pros such as four-time Ho'olaule'a winner Connor Baxter, Travis Grant, Dave Kalama, Kai Lenny, Lauren Spalding, Manca Notar and Andrea Moller. Fitness specialist Suzie Cooney will also host a training/wellness session. The day kicks off at 9am with a pro panel hosted by paddling legend Archie Kalepa. And it’s totally free.
One Womens’ Champ
We have yet to see another female SUP athlete reign victorious year after year at a single event like the consecutive seven-time Ho'olauleʻa champion, Andrea Moller. The Maui local (originally from Brazil) consistently dominates the competition, usually bettering her course record, and then returns the following day to win the OC1 race on the same stretch of open ocean, with the exception of merely one loss in the OC1 in 2012. This may not be news to some, but it’s as impressive a statistic as they come.
While the OluKai is without a doubt one of paddling’s biggest celebrations, it’s also about giving back to the local community. After every competitor crosses the finish line and all the awards are handed out, OluKai employees, guests and local volunteers gather on Monday for OluKai’s Annual Giveback Day. In 2014, volunteers planted Koa trees on Kaheawa Beach to assist with a reforestation and archeological project, aimed at preserving the beach for generations to come. Last year, nearly 100 volunteers turned out to help with Maui’s Waihe’e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge Project. It is all part of the new Ama OluKai Foundation, which strives to preserve local cultures and traditions.