5th Annual BLUESMITHS Paddle Imua Recap and Gallery

Fighting through with rain and and ultra-challenging conditions, it was James Casey and Sonni Hoenscheid who held off a competitive field of paddlers to win the 5th annual BLUESMITHS Paddle Imua on Maui's North Shore.

In one of the most challenging races in Bluesmiths Paddle IMUA history, 181 athletes including Standup paddlers, prone paddlers, OC1s, OC2s, OC6s, Surfskis and even a few sail boats lined up on the start line inside Maliko Gulch. With rain pouring down, they faced an ominous 10 mile Maliko-Kahului coastal run ahead of them.

After the event opened with a beautiful Hawaiian blessing, the paddlers took off into the less than desirable conditions. Unlike the classic high wind action seen during last week's Olukai, light winds turned the Imua race into a tactical paddle battle, testing the athletes to their physical limits.

The Women's Elite SUP race was a showdown between two of the world's top ranked paddlers Oregon's Fiona Wylde and Germany's Sonni Hoenscheid. During the early stages of the race, the two woman matched each other stroke for stroke. However, as the driving rain started to ease, the bumps became more organized and Sonni was able to build a commanding lead on her 17' unlimited SIC that she would not relinquish.

"Today was really wild and a lot of fun," said Hoenscheid. "I'm super happy with the result and am looking forward to heading off to Europe tomorrow to continue racing."

Meanwhile, the men's SUP race featured a star-studded field including Bullet Obra, Bart De Zwart, James Casey and downwind legend Jeremy Riggs. With a confusing northwest swell, tactics would play a large part in the overall race with an interesting mix of riders including endurance paddlers, down-wind specialists and Stand Up World Series racers.

With legendary waterman and last year's winner Dave Kalama opting to paddle a two-man canoe with his cousin Junya McGurn–a race they would go on to win–the door was open for a new SUP winner in 2016. Building off his strong showing last weekend at the Olukai, young Australian James Casey built a commanding lead  and entered the mouth of Kahului Harbor nearly 5 minutes before the next paddler, Jeremy Riggs.

"Super stoked with the win, there were some bumps out there but I had to work for it," said Casey. "The BLUESMITHS Paddle Imua is a great event and I'm stoked to get my first international win here."

One of the unique aspects of the BLUESMITHS Paddle Imua is the diversity of water craft on the water at the same time. In fact, the day's fastest finisher was Surf Ski paddler Michael Owens, who finished with a time of 1 hour 15 minutes–more than eight minutes ahead of the first SUP finisher.

However, BLUESMITHS Paddle Imua is more than simply another race. During the last five seasons, the event has raised over $100,000 which has gone to fund Camp Imua, a critical one-week recreational summer camp for children with special needs. That is one of the main reasons that Paddle Imua remains favorite among competitors.

"Paddle Imua is a special race because you’re not just racing for yourself," said Wylde. "It's truly a community event and those are some of the best events we do."

BLUESMITHS Paddle IMUA Official Results 

Men's OC1

  1. Felipe Gomes
  2. Ryan Murphy
  3. Quinn Whiteford

Women's OC-1

  1. Catherine Deboni
  2. Lisa Fanning
  3. Thersea Felgate

Men's OC-2

  1. Junya McGurn and Dave Kalama

Women's OC-2

  1. Michelle Cerizo

Mixes Age Group OC-2

  1. Kristina Dougherty
  2. Marian Frank
  3. Stephen Ross

Men's PDB Prone

  1. Nicholas Franco
  2. Hogan Kania
  3. George Foster

Womens' PDB Prone

  1. Christine Corey

Men's Surfski

  1. Michael Owens
  2. Eric Rolozcski
  3. Doug Ruppenthal

Men's SUP 12'

  1. Alex Mawae
  2. Searay Beltran
  3. Royle Taogoshi

Men's SUP 14'

  1. Bullet Obra
  2. Bart De Zwart
  3. Ryan Funk

Women's SUP 14'

  1. Fiona Wylde
  2. Shanna Upton
  3. Alyssa Joy


  1. James Casey
  2. Jeremy Riggs
  3. Sam Parker

Women's UNL SUP

  1. Sonni Hoenscheid
  2. Devin Blish
  3. Jenn Biestman

Full results – http://pseresults.com/events/783/results 




Run by Imua Family Services and a team of volunteers, Camp Imua is a recreational summer camp held annually children with special abilities an opportunity to try new activities and connect with each other and peers in their community.

Learn more: http://paddleimua.com/camp-imua/