Last year’s crown, which is determined by cumulative point standings of each stage, was a heroic battle between second place Molokai Solo finisher Jimmy Austin and Olympic hopeful Patrick Dolan, which came down to their placing in the final leg. This year’s competition will run much deeper with rumors of attendance from 2010 Molokai Solo winner Danny Ching, the two-time Koa Nui Champ Kai Bartlett and up and coming phenom—Will Reichenstien.
While differing in format, the Koa Nui Championships is somewhat considered a warm-up for next month’s PA’A Molokai Solo, known as the World Championships in solo canoe paddling. The three varying distances make it anyone’s race as National Kayaking Team sprinter and reigning 2010 Koa Nui Champion Patrick Dolan could easily find competition from flat-water specialist Danny Ching and last weekend’s winner Will Reichenstein. If the trades return, the battle through the surf will be between O’ahu favorite Jimmy Austin and Maui’s Kai Bartlett.
“The Koa Nui Champs are a different race than the longer, marathon-like Molokai Solo, but in terms of competition it’s a good opportunity to see what you’ll be up against in the channel,” said last year’s runner up Jimmy Austin. “Danny mainly trains in California, and Kai is on Maui, so this is the sort of the first and last chance to race these guys until the (Molokai) solo.”
Patrick Dolan, will attempt to defend his title and compete this weekend having not trained in an OC-1 at all season due to his rigorous National Kayaking Team schedule.
“It’s more of a fun race for me because I haven’t been in a canoe in a while,” said Dolan, who has been racing (and winning) in the surfski division this season. “I’m just stoked come out and see where I stack up against these guys.”
For the women, defending and undefeated Koa Nui champion, Maui’s Lauren Bartlett, will return to face off against O’ahu season favorite Lori Nakamura.
The first stage starts on Saturday Mar. 5, in Hawaii Kai as competitors take laps in the Marina fronting Kona Brewing Co. Immediately following, participants load up their boats and head to Makai Pier for and 8 mile run back to the Shack Hawaii Kai. On Sunday, competitors head back to Makai Pier for an 18-mile downwind run into the Anuenue Canoe Club site, inside the Hilton Lagoon.
The Koa Nui Schedule is as follows:
COURSE:Saturday March 5th — Stage I and Stage II
9:15am - Long and Short courses Hawaii Kai Marina Stage I sprint time trial (~10-20 min).
11:15am - Stage II Long Course Makapu’u to Hawaii Kai Shack
Stage II Short Course Hawaii Kai Triangle to Shack (~4-5 miles)
Sunday March 6th — Stage III10:00am - Stage III Long Course Makapu’u to Anuenue*
Stage III Short Course Hawaii Kai to Anuenue * First finishers expected at approx. 12:30 p.m.
SUP, Paddlboard, V1, V6 will be held on Sunday with Stage III at 10:00am from Hawaii Kai to Anuenue.
The race is open to the public and provides a “short-course” option for all levels of experience
For more information or to sign up for the race, visit www.paahawaii.com and click on Koa Nui Championship.
Written by: Angie Giancaterino