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Hawaii water sports community grapples with confusion, inconsistencies in COVID rules

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 5:26 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 5, 2021 at 5:37 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Confusion over COVID rules and late decisions are creating chaos in Hawaii’s water sports community.

On Oahu, a surf meet scheduled this weekend recently got approval from the city while approval came too late for a Hui Waa paddling race.

There hasn’t been a full Hui Waa race schedule for more than two years. But over this past weekend, the organization finally received the go-ahead.

However, six days notice wasn’t enough time to get crews back in the water.

“On the 27th (of September), they (government officials) said we can go, which is great because we couldn’t understand why we couldn’t go,” said Hui Waa race director Steve Silva.

“But by the time, they said we could go, we had already canceled the races.”

Silva has been organizing Hui Waa’s races for nearly 10 years.

The paddling season is typically planned a year in advance and races involve transport of crews, equipment and elaborate safety and support systems.

“Because of the pandemic, the whole season gets canceled,” Silva said. “All the preseason got canceled, then the regattas got canceled and then we try to put in permits again and then it got canceled again.”

Surfers are riding similar waves.

A Hawaii Surfing Association contest scheduled for this weekend was previously canceled, but the city says its now back on.

Jen Tema says she didn’t know when her son Luke would be able to compete in Oahu waters again.

“The kids in Hawaii who want to make a career of surfing haven’t been able to get points,” Tema said. “Kids on the mainland in California, they’ve been able to do pro events, junior pro events, get points, start working toward their career. Hawaii kids haven’t been able to do that.”

Gov. David Ige acknowledges the confusion, but provided little clarity when asked about how the water sports decision making process.

“Surfing events is a challenge because if it’s in a city park, then the city would definitely be involved,” Ige said Tuesday, in a one-on-one interview with Hawaii News Now.

“Remember, the state has responsibility from the high water mark out to the ocean. Clearly, where the surf event occurs is in state jurisdiction and clearly, we would have some way about whether that happens or not.”

Ultimately, both the HSA event and Hui Waa seasons are on track to resume, but the anticipation is tempered.

“My confidence is usually good, but we’ll see what happens,” Silva said. “I always plan to have the race, but gotta be ready for anything”

Hui Waa’s next race is scheduled for Oct. 30.

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