The fifth annual BLUESMITHS Paddle Imua Blue, a benefit for Imua Family Services’ Camp Imua program, kicked off under rainy skies May 7, but that but that didn’t phase athletes who showed up to race and support Maui’s special needs kieki. BPI is the fastest growing multiple discipline ocean paddle “fun race” open to men and women of all ages.
BPI events feature several categories including Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP); One Person Outrigger Canoe (OC1); Two Person Outrigger Canoe (OC2); Prone Paddleboard (paddling on knees or lying down); and Surf Ski (narrow lightweight kayak).
The more than 150 participants in this one-of-a-kind mission-based race hit the water at 1pm at the Maliko Gulch and raced 10 miles to the finish at the Hawaiian Canoe Club. The racers–who began to cross the finish line around 2:30 pm–were met with intermittent rain, a cheering crowd and a lei greeting from keiki who attend Camp Imua.
Holding off their competitors for UNL SUP title at the fifth annual event were James Casey and Sonni Hoenscheid. Hoenscheid and Oregon’s Finona Wylde–two of the world’s top ranked paddlers–competed in a stroke for stroke showdown with Hoenscheid pulling ahead to take the win.
Other highlights included the Men’s OC-2 which was won by two-man canoe team Junya McGurn and his cousin, legendary waterman Dave Kalama.
The race was followed by an ‘Ohana Festival, which featured entertainment by the Old Lahaina Luau, prize draws, Grom Camp and SIC Maui Relay. Food trucks for the event were provided by Teddy’s Bigger Burgers and Like Poke.
Trophies were presented to the top three finishers in each division; also, a special honor went to Bluesmiths Waterwear’s John Smalley, who has been the event’s Title Sponsor since its inception and continues to make it a success year after year.
The annual race has reportedly raised more than $100,000 to fund Camp Imua during its five years on Maui.
Photo courtesy Imua Family Services