KAHULUI, Maui - The 8th annual OluKai Ho’olaule’a three-day ocean festival kicks off today, Friday, April 29th, on Maui’s North Shore with the second annual ‘Demo Day,’ offering locals and visitors the opportunity to meet with the pros, gain valuable last minute race tips and an opportunity to test out the latest boards and equipment. The 2016 OluKai Ho’olaule’a is set to be the biggest yet in the event’s history bringing together around 600 of the world’s elite paddlers to race the famous Maliko Downwind Run for the largest gender equal prize purse of $15,000.
In addition to a strong contingent of Hawaii’s talent, competitors have traveled from throughout the Mainland U.S. and all corners of the globe representing Canada, Australia, Japan, Brazil, United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Israel, Puerto Rico, French Polynesia and the Virgin Islands. The conditions are tipped to be near perfect with high winds blowing 20 miles per hour for the eight-mile Stand Up Paddle (SUP) race on Saturday, April 30 at 12 p.m., with open water swells rolling down the coast.
International Paddlers Come Together for OluKai’s 8th Annual Ho’olaule’a | Photo Courtesy: Olukai Ho’olaule’a
“It’s always exciting to see this festival come together,” said OluKai Konohiki (caretaker) and legendary big wave surfer, Archie Kalepa. “From having the competitive elite from all over the globe descend on Hawaii, to the energy of the local community; everyone is here to celebrate and support the spirit of Aloha.”
The crowd will be expecting top performances from four-time OluKai Ho’olaule’a winner and native Hawaiian, Connor Baxter (Starboard), with Travis Grant (NSP), Kai Lenny (Naish) and Dave Kalama marked as hot contenders. In the women’s category, seven-time Ho’olaule’a champ Andrea Moller (SIC Maui) is unfortunately recovering from an injury and will not be competing, so the top spot is up for grabs to a new winner.
The festivities will kick off on Saturday at 8 a.m. at Pai’a Bay with the ‘Ohana Fun Paddle, 12 p.m. at Maliko Gulch for the SUP race and continue at Kanaha Beach Park until 4 p.m. The public is invited to join in the festivities, which include a lu’au, live music from special guests, traditional Hawaiian games, and to cheer on the paddlers and share in the Aloha spirit.
The competitions continue on Sunday, May 1st when the OC1 and OC2 races take to the ocean, coupled with another day of family fun. The Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association will also stage a spectacular finish to its prestigious Hana to Kahului sailing race, ending on the shores of Kanaha Beach Park that afternoon. Race registration will be available both days on site beginning at 8:00 a.m. at Pa’ia Youth & Cultural Center for the Fun Paddle and 9:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday at Maliko Gulch for the SUP, OC1 and OC2 races.
4x Olukai champion Connor Baxter will seek his 5th win in 2016. | Photo Courtesy: Olukai Ho'olaule'a
OluKai Ho’olaule’a will be filmed in HD and broadcast internationally courtesy of OluKai media partner, Ocean Paddler TV. For more information visit the event website HERE. Follow along the journey or share your own experience at Ho’olaule’a on social with @olukai #OluKaiRace.
OluKai is a sought after lifestyle brand that believes everyone, no matter where they are, can live Aloha. OluKai products feature thoughtful design elements and handcrafted details inspired by the ocean lifestyle. We are committed to partnering with best-of-class retailers with whom we share an unwavering pursuit of excellence. OluKai's spirit is shared by others through the Ama OluKai Foundation, a 501(c)(3) created to formalize the company’s giveback initiatives. Every OluKai sold supports Ama OluKai Foundation’s mission in Hawaii. For more information visit www.OluKai.com or #AnywhereAloha.