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Hana Highway Surf Paddle Race

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Hana Highway Surf in Paia sponsored a paddle race from Ho’okipa to Paia Bay today. The race was all ages including men and women and featured a variety of surf craft with 9’6″ longboards, paddle boards and stand up paddle boards. It was a good turn out with more than 60 entrants and lots of kids competing. I participated on the stand up paddle side of the event.

While rainy skies were forecasted for the windward part of the island, the storms managed to stay offshore. After registering participants, we all gathered for race instructions. From there, the racers hit the water. We paddled in mass out past Pavillions surf break for the start. A few of the stand up paddle surfers caught waves in Pavillions’ waist high wind swell as they waited. With a wave of the judge’s arms and a barely audible whistle, we were off.

This is the first time I have been in any sort of race, land based or paddle since elementary school so I did not quite know what to expect. Adrenaline played a part at first. I paddled hard out of the gate before I realized that I would run out of gas quick. There were a couple really good stand up paddle surfers who were moving like they had outboard motors. Riding on 13 foot or longer boards, they were pulling away from the pack to the point that they were a good 5 to 10 minutes faster than the nearest finishers.

After shifting gears and trying to conserve my energy for a bit, I found that I had started to slip behind the pack. Racers that had been 10 yards behind were now 10 to 20 yards in front of me. Right around that time, I found myself on a good swell and my board began to glide. A few strong paddles and I was riding another open ocean swell. I was able to link four or five of these glides together with some strong paddling. The end result was a surge that put me back in the thick of things. Unfortunately, it also expended a good bit of my energy. From there, each paddle was a little more grueling than the last.

After 31 minutes and some odd seconds, I stumbled across the finish line in Paia Bay. It was a fun race and something I would definitely like to try again. My lack of stamina on the water and the dull ache in my arms as I type are a reminder that I may need to get out behind the desk and train a little more between now and the next race.


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8/6/2006

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