Tomorrow morning paddlers young and old will all meet at Kualoa Beach Park for the 9th annual Hawaii Vaa Association's race around Chinaman's Hat. The course will take competitors around Mokolii Island twice - and give them a chance to compete in rudderless boats that rarely used for paddling events here in Hawaii.
"There's a lack of these kinds of boats here in Hawaii. So kids and adults all paddle canoes- one man canoes - that have rudders on them. And the world championships only use rudderless canoes. So we kind of wanted to get Hawaii on the same page. Expose people to something new."
The Hawaii Vaa Association has achieved exactly that. According to the group's president, Jeremy Cole, the race has attracted more than double the number of competitors this year compared to when they began the event. Most of the growth they've seen has been in the youth paddling division.
"We wanted to kind of provide something fun for the kids to look forward to," said Cole. "When I was a kid there was never a race where I was allowed to - when I was younger - race in the open ocean by myself. So, we make sure we have safety boats for them and all that kind of stuff, and give kids the opportunity now to race like all the adults do."
But it's nto just the open ocean attracting younger competitors to the race, it's also the chance to test their skills in boats that live up to international criteria.
"Kids now because of the internet, they see videos of races all around the pacific and they realize that this is like a form of racing that everybody does," Cole added. "So, they kind of want in on that new experience."
According to Cole that "new experience" - in many cases - has led to international success later on in their careers.
"I think one of our goals that we have achieved is that we've seen kids that came in super young. We've had kids as young as seven-years-old do the race. We've had kids that are early high school. They've gone on to race international in other places. I'm not going ot say that we take credit for that. But, at least we kind of exposed them to a new way of thinking, or a new way of paddling - something to be motivated about."
Adult paddlers can borrow canoes for the event if needed for just a $40 dollar entry fee, registration is $30 if paddlers bring their own canoe and $20 if they loan them out to other competitors. Children can borrow boats for $5, if they use their own canoe there is no entry fee. Registration will remain open until the event begins. To register visit ocpaddler.com.
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