KAHULUI, Maui - Maui did not disappoint for day two of the 8th annual OluKai Hoʻolauleʻa three-day ocean festival with local Connor Baxter and new women’s champion Sonni Hönscheid taking home the gender equal prize purse of $15,000. The prestigious eight-mile Stand Up Paddle (SUP) race saw over 325 of the world’s elite paddlers battle it out on the famous Maliko Downwind Run on Maui’s North Shore, the highest amount of contenders in this race to date.
Thirty mile per hour gusts of wind and consistent waist-high downwind waves made for conditions described as one of the most epic yet. Baxter clocked an impressive 47:41 for his fifth consecutive win of the OluKai Hoʻolauleʻa Elite Men’s SUP division.
The race had a new format this year with a staggered start for each division to improve the overall race experience. “The most challenging part of this new race was definitely the new start because you don’t have that perfect line up and straight shot to the finish. It required a little more strategy” said Baxter. “Not only was today’s OluKai race the most epic conditions, but was stacked with some of the best competitors in the world” Baxter said.
Photo Courtesy: Olukai
New champion, SIC Maui’s Sonni Hönscheid, hailing from Germany, has competed in this race four times, even placing second last year, but this is her first championship title.
“It was first of all fun, the conditions were amazing- and then it was a challenge because there were a lot of really good paddlers out there and it was hard to keep up with them. It was a really fun race” said Hönscheid.
Competitors represented over 18 countries including the Mainland U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, Brazil, United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Israel, Puerto Rico, French Polynesia and the Virgin Islands.
The day kicked off with the three mile ‘Ohana Fun Paddle prior to the elite SUP race with over 50 racers in competition. The atmosphere of celebration was alive at the finish line with traditional Hawaiian games, a lū‘au and live music by surprise guests The Green, who played an hour long set to the crowd.
Everyone is invited to join in the festivities for the final day of OluKai Hoʻolauleʻa tomorrow, Sunday May 1. The elite OC1 and OC2 competition will take to the ocean, together with another full day of free family fun. The Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association will stage a spectacular finish to the weekend on the shores of Kanaha Beach Park.
OluKai Hoʻolauleʻa will be filmed in HD and broadcast internationally courtesy of OluKai media partner, Ocean Paddler TV.
For more information visit www.olukai.com/race
Top finishers for the men and women. | Photo Courtesy: Olukai
2016 Olukai Ho'olaule'a Results
- Connor Baxter (Starboard)
- Mo Freitas (Focus)
- Matt Nottage
- Travis Grant (NSP)
- James Casey
- David Kalama
- Sonni Honscheid (SIC Maui)
- Kathy Shipman
- Terrene Black
- Devin Blish
- Amy Woodward
- Talia Decoite
Full race results available HERE.