What is now the World's Largest Long Distance Canoe Race was actually started in 1972 simply to fulfill a need. The race really began as a way to train for the grueling Na Wahine O Ke Kai (Women) and the Molokai Hoe (Men) long distance canoe races from the island of Molokai to the island of Oahu.
Named in honor of the last reigning monarch of Hawaii, Queen Lili'uokalani, the first race fell on the Queen's birthday, September 2.
Since those early beginnings, the race has grown tremendously. We now are host to over two thousand five hundred paddlers from all over the world - Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Florida, California and Canada - just to name a few.
And it has grown from a one day event to four days of racing, starting with the always fun warmup - the OC4 races on Thursday. Saturday hosts the main event, the strenuous single-hull canoe races, which covers 18 miles between Kailua and Honaunau. On Sunday we feature double hull, OC1, OC2 and SUP races. And all this action is then followed up with the Kupuna Classic held on Monday - a southward & northward paddle from Kailua-Kona to Keauhou Bay for those over 50 years of age and older.
Held each year on Labor Day Weekend, the fun also includes a torchlight parade on Saturday night, and an awards luau on Sunday.