San Diego’s Hanohano Outrigger Canoe Club hosted another successful Hanohano Huki Ocean Challenge (HHHOC) on Saturday in Mission Bay, Calif. 2013 marks the 17th annual running of the Hanohano Huki Ocean Challenge, presented by Maui Jim Sunglasses and Ocean Minded, which was built off the Excel Surfski Challenge pioneered by club founder Egon Horcajo. The HHHOC is "an all-inclusive paddling event with the expressed mission to bring together paddlers of all ages and of all disciplines for the purpose of perpetuating growth of the sport and the camaraderie and spirit of Aloha for which it has become known,” said Race Director Dan Van Dyck.
Olympians, triathletes, lifeguards, outrigger paddlers, surfski paddlers, traditional paddleboarders, kayakers and standup paddlers aged 6 to 90 got up at 0 dark hundred to brave some nasty San Diego weather and enjoy a day of competition and friendship on the water. The day's schedule included a fast and furious 5-mile flatwater race in the bay with some outstanding performances by Bayley Olds, a 16 year old member of the San Diego Canoe and Kayak Team (SDCKT) who finished 3rd overall on a surfski, and Olympic Kayaker Kristina Zur with a strong finish for the women's 12'6 SUP division. Thomas Maximus, Rob Rojas, Dane DeBoer, Jared Vargas and Dan Shoemaker finished in the top places in unlimited SUP, while the 14′ SUP division had top three finishes by Matt Becker, Brian Murphy and Rami Zur. Gregory Closier, Brennan Rose, and Chuck Glenn took the podium places in 12’6. The second race of the day featured some of Southern California's fastest Surfski and OC-1 paddlers in Southern California, including Danny Ching, Rami Zur, Austin Kieffer and veteran paddlers Mike Eisert, Rich Long and Brian Kummer.
The safety Crew and Race Director had to make the tough decision to run the long course inside Mission Bay due to thick fog which reduced visibility to less than 100 yards. "We would have lost paddlers for sure. It's not worth the risk,” said Van Dyck. “Our safety crew, led by Kevin Halkola, have a lot of responsibility on the course; they made the right decision."
While the athletes were racing the long course and others were enjoying the expo, Les Hopper of SDCKT helped organize the Under 13 Kids races, which consisted of the "Yolo SUP Cup"; 1 in a series of SUP races for kids in So Cal, the Lightening Race; a Flatwater spring kayak race and an Open race for all kids on any craft. The Hanohano Outrigger Canoe Club views this as the most important aspect of the day for the positive growth of the sport we all enjoy so much.