After 8 years of running the Maui Paddleboard Championships, race pioneers John Gangini and Blair Thorndike decided to give up their positions as the race’s promoters. In order to keep the race alive, Adventure Sports Maui eagerly stepped in to carry on the tradition that Gangini and Thorndike started.
“We didn’t want to see it go away because it’s kind of a unique race,” said Chris Levins, vice president and general manager of Adventure Sports Maui. “There are so many international paddlers here at that time of year because they’re here training for [the Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships] the following weekend, so it gets a lot of people from Japan, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, from all over the world.”
Due to this change in management the name of the race has been changed to Adventure Sports Maui Paddleboard Race, but everything else about the race is essentially the same.
On Sunday July 20, athletes from all over the islands and the world will come together to race along the 9.5 mile stretch of Maui’s rugged North Shore. With six stand-up paddleboard (SUP) races and four Prone Paddleboard divisions, there is an event for everyone.
“Typically, this race has gotten around 200 paddlers,” Levins said. “There’s older guys in their 60’s and 70’s all the way down to teenage kids that do it.” Although Levins described the race as “kind of hardcore”, it is open to all ages as long as they’re confident in their own abilities.
Racers must check-in at 10am on the day of the race and attend a mandatory meeting at noon. The first start is at 1pm, beginning inside of the Maliko Gulch and finishing at the Hawaiian Canoe Club in the Kahului Harbor.
“I myself enjoy doing the downwind races but the thing that’s kind of neat about this is that it’s such an international race,” Levins said. “Some of the best guys in the world are here for that period of time so I think there’s just a really high level of competition and it brings them together with the Maui ohana.”
For those who want to enjoy the event from the sidelines, Levins said that the best spots to see the racers are from the start and finish lines. “The race starts at Maliko Gulch…so that’s probably the best vantage point to see everybody take off,” Levins said. “From there everyone kind of spreads out and you’ll see the dots on the horizon or on the water, different colored jerseys and what not.”
Following the race, paddle boarders will regroup at the Hawaiian Canoe Club hale, after dropping their boards on the beach and making a short run to the finish line. Levins thought that it was suitable to help benefit the Hawaiian Canoe Club Keiki Program by donating a portion of the proceeds raised by the Adventure Sports Maui Paddleboard Race. “Not only are they doing paddling, they’re also learning about Hawaiian culture and traditions,” Levins said. “Just my personal experience with the program, I’ve seen a couple kids that have come out of it and they’re very polite and well behaved and I just thought it was a fitting group to kokua back with since we’re ending the race at their canoe hale.”
Come and participate to help support the Hawaiian Canoe Club Keiki Program or just watch and cheer on the paddle boarders who are competing in the race.
Registration will be available for an entry fee of $55 in the store, through snail mail that’s postmarked by July 14 or online until midnight on July 19. On-site registration will be available at Maliko Gulch starting at 10am on the day of the race with an entry fee of $70. The registration fee includes an event t-shirt and lunch. Additional lunch tickets will be available for $10. Parking will be tight, so drop-offs and carpooling are highly recommended.
$55 before July 20, $70 for on-site registration. Check-in at 10am, first start at 1pm. Maliko Gulch (Paia); 808-359-8686, www.mauipaddleboardrace.com.
– Ashley Probst (@ashprobsticle)
Photo courtesy Chris Levins