2020 Koa Nui
The 2020 Koa Nui Championship was one for the books. Conditions were pretty darn sweet and the competition was stacked with most of Hawaii’s best showing up to challenge each other over the course of the weekend.
This year we had a group of guys here on Maui that wanted to go over and see how they would do against the pack. Kekoa Kaho’okele-Santos, Triston Kaho’okele-Santos, Felipe Gomes, Nalu Sampson, and myself planned out our trip, sent over several canoes and borrowed the rest from paddlers on Oahu that couldn’t make it out to race. Avan Becerra and his father Charlie also joined in on the action, they live in Kona. Gavin Hanoa lent us his truck so that we could tow a OC-1 trailer that we borrowed from a long time friend Eric Levora and Pat Von helped us with accommodations on Oahu. Thanks to those guys it all came together real easy for us.
As I had already mentioned, the conditions for the weekend were pretty nice. With the gusting trade winds the race coordinator, Manny Kulukulukulani, had to make some course changes because of safety concerns, but that didn’t hinder the fun. The course for the 2 longer legs was still a Hawaii Kai run so we would be seeing a good amount of downwind racing all weekend. I’m sure some of the Oahu guys that know that run well were pretty stoked and it showed in their performances.
I was stoked to see a good handful of our Kai Wa’a team riders show up to support PA’A Hawaii and test themselves against the rest of the competition. Day 1 consists of two races. The first race is a short 1.5 mile sprint and the second leg was a Hawaii Kai to Kaimana run which is about 8 miles. This first sprint race is pretty intense, generally the top 30 places are less than a minute apart so one slip could cost you 5-10 places. The surf run for the second leg was phenomenal with wind gust up to 35mph, just pure epic. Day two is the third and final race. Manny set the first turn buoy further outside so our angle would change a little for the Hawaii Kai run plus we had to run outside to Diamond Head buoy as well forcing us to get more outside into better surf then finished it off with a nice stretch across Waikiki. I won’t lie, it was a fun run while it lasted but once off Waikiki the water simmered down and the younger boys put the hurt on me, haha.
Reflecting back on the weekend, we were pretty blessed with the conditions we had. The competition was as stiff as it gets and we got to put in some water time. Great job to all the participants this past weekend, making the top 20 was no joke! Several things I was very stoked to see was Tuarongo taking the win and seeing how progressive his surfing has become, but I was also impressed with his passion for the competition and his stoke for others around him pushing the level higher. Triston Kaho’okele for putting on a epic showing in the bumps and in the flat water, showing that he is one to watch out for in any condition given to him, and Karel Jr. for showing us why he’s a 7 time Molokai Solo Champion with his impeccable skills in the bumps.
It was a great weekend just hanging with a handful of our Maui Boys and seeing everyone on Oahu, always good times when traveling off island for races with his gang. I again want to thank Pat Von for styling us out with a place to stay, Gavin Hanoa for letting us use his truck, Eric Levora for loaning us his trailer, and Charlie Becerra for driving the shuttle for us making logistics a breeze. Thank you to Jim Foti, Raven Aipa, Matt Debrule, Amy Lawson Woodward, and Brad Gaul for loaning us the extra canoes and thank you Manny for your efforts in putting together the Koa Nui race for all of us to enjoy.