So here it is: The official, more in-depth, more photo-centric post on what was an incredible event this last weekend.
It started small three years ago, but with 200 paddlers last weekend it feels that Bluesmiths Paddle Imua Benefit Race is fast on its way to becoming a world-wide calendar event for the paddle sports community.
Ocean Pioneers, Professionals, Semi-pros and Amateurs with two common interests - Love for the ocean and a Desire to support Maui’s children with special needs – paddled Maui’s legendary north shore on Saturday in world class down-wind conditions.
Steeped in history, almost every reef passed along the ten mile open-ocean stretch between Maliko Gulch and The Hawaiian Canoe Club in Kahului represents a landmark in oceaneering in one sport or another.
Known as “The Maliko Run”, this stretch of water is legendary amongst paddlers. Maui’s consistent side shore trade winds create significant wind swell which, when combined with some late season north swell, delivers perfect conditions for high-speed, tactical downwind paddle racing OR a relatively gentle wind propelled cruise to the harbor. The choice is always the riders, and in no race is that more true than Paddle Imua. It’s a win-win race for the riders, and the kids.
Registration opened at 10am as paddlers of multiple classes trickled down into Maliko Gulch to collect their race number, GPS tracker and Bluesmiths Race shirt.
Michi Schweiger Prepares for Maliko
Bluesmiths' Andrea Moller puts her name on the line.
Ocean Sports Athletes like Dave Kalama, Robert Teriitehau, Michi Schweiger, Loch Eggers, Jeremy Riggs, Kody Kerbox, Travis Baptiste, Livio Menelau, Andrea Moeller and Sonni Hönscheid to name but a few attended Bluesmiths Paddle Imua once again both to spend time with Camp Imua's special needs kids and to compete on the famed Maliko Run.
Loch Eggers: Stoked as always
Windsurfing royalty & family man - Robert Teriitehau, paddles out for the kids
Many who competed in the Olukai stayed for Bluesmiths Paddle Imua, taking the opportunity to compete in two epic races back-to-back.
The traditional Hawaiian Pule was held in front of the Bluesmiths registration tent and saw all 200 paddlers, volunteers and sponsors hold hands and bow their heads to receive the blessing of a safe journey to the harbor.
Stand-up (SUP), OC-1 , OC-2 , OC-6, Surf Ski and Prone Paddlers took to the water at 12:50. The race began shortly after.
Conditions were epic. A late season north swell bolstered trade-mark Maliko conditions – 20+ knots of side wind and perfect wind swell – to create perfect match conditions. The north swell provided plenty of tactical opportunities.
Dave Kalama stays both ahead & hydrated
Bluesmiths Paddle Imua is a “full" Maliko Run. With this there is the added “prize” of the final cross-wind paddle from the harbor entrance to the finish line at Hawaiian Canoe Club! This time it was grueling with strong gusts pushing paddlers further down into the harbor than they wished to go but that did not discourage anyone from putting their head down and moving their paddles and boards, grinding all the way to the finish line. Some serious sprinting battles ensued between competitors but these invariably ended in smiles, hugs and handshakes.
Flowers leis were handed to every single finisher and a very enthusiastically cheering crowd made sure that everyone felt like a winner.
Full results here: PADDLE IMUA RESULTS
Andrea Moller about to take her third Paddle Imua win!
Honorary chairperson of Paddle Imua and Bluesmiths ambassador, Andrea Moeller, won her third straight title in the Women’s Unlimited SUP category. Andrea’s take:
“This year’s Paddle IMUA was the most fun race ever! The conditions were epic, with strong winds and waves for a perfect downwind run. I'm stoked that I had a really good race, but even more important I was overly impressed of how our paddling community has stepped up to support this race. We all need to understand the importance of Camp IMUA for the kids, and how much this event supports the camp. Together we can support Camp IMUA's children in and out of the water every day.”
Fellow Bluesmiths team-mate and Molokai 2014 winner Sonni Hönscheid came in second in the Women’s Unlimited SUP class:
"Paddle Imua presented by Bluesmiths was an amazing race, good conditions, really competitive! But besides a race it was a great event, a nice get together with friends and the IMUA family. IMUA is doing an amazing job in supporting the kids with special needs and to see those kids smiling, it's priceless"
Pioneering waterman Dave Kalama was a class of his own once again and took top honors in the Men’s Unlimited SUP:
“Conditions today were excellent. Some massive glides and smiles out there. I had a great time! Paddle IMUA is a very worthy cause and I’m very happy to be involved here today."
Bluesmiths Jeremy Riggs who finished second in the Men’s Unlimited SUP class also showed his excitement about the day's conditions and to be part of event: “Paddle Imua is one of the best events of the year. Such a great cause. You can’t go wrong signing up for this event no matter what the conditions are. Today was awesome, we had smoking conditions. This had to be one of the best downwind races we’ve had on Maui in a long time. So much fun”
The 14-foot No Rudder SUP class saw local boy Travis Baptiste killing it coming in side-by-side with Jeremy Riggs on his Unlimited SUP while Naish’s Kody Kerbox took second in that class and Robert Teriitehau third.
Fourth placed finisher, Bluesmiths Team Rider and Naish Brand Manager Michi Schweiger adds: “…one of the windiest Maliko run races I have ever done. ……open ocean conditions with great glides all the way down to the harbor. The kind of run where you are essentially surfing all the way.”
12’6” - Male
1) Bernd Roediger
2) Jeffrey Spencer
3) Alex Mawae
12’6” - Female
1) Annie Reickert
2) Tian Prior
3) Susie Grace
OC-1 paddler Felipe Gomes not only took top podium in his class but also mastered the run in just a little over one hour coming in first overall. Kingi Gilbert together with Ryan Murphy battled it out in the finishing sprint for the OC-1 class - sprinting up the shoot, putting only a split second between their second and third placement.
1) Dane Ward
2) Fiona Van Ammers
3) Catherine Deboni
1) Kristi Doughe/Lee Moyers
2) Wendy Giblin/Michael Gibli
3) Andrew Davioes/Katherine Moore
2) Michael Eiler/Wilson Angel
1) Denise Darval/Mindy Clark
2) Margie Kawaia/CoryKawaiaea
3) Chilli-Rae So/Michelle Cerizo
1) Michael Owens
2) Eric Rohozinski
3) Bram Denhaan
1) Alexander parker
2) Hogan Kania
3) Mark Moquin
The full results of the race are available here: RESULTS HERE
'OHANA FESTIVAL & CAMP IMUA RELAYS
The “Ohana festival” following the race was the perfect end to an unforgettable day of bringing the ocean community together for a great cause.
Bluemsiths Loch Eggers - Waterman of the first hour adds: “This year’s Bluesmiths Paddle Imua was super special for me. I finally engaged in what this race is all about: "The Camp Imua Kids". This year I helped with the relay that the Imua kids participate in after the big race down the coast. It felt really good to see how stoked the kids were after the relay. They had huge smiles and busted out some Shakas for me which made me get all choked up. The Paddle Imua organizers along with the John Smalley team at Bluesmiths did a phenomenal job organizing this event for Camp Imua and the Maui paddling community. Looking forward to 2016 Paddle Imua. Aloha, Loch”
Our Crew: Terra, Joe & James
Thanks to the racers, Imua Family Services, the volunteers, the committee and everyone who turned out on the day. Big thanks also to our supporting sponsors Zevenbergen Capitol Investments, Goodfellows Bros Inc., SIC Racing, Aloha Aina Center, Costa, Aloha Mixed Plates, Maui Brewing Company, Deep Relief, Rising Sun Solar, Ke Nalu, Hawaiian Canoe Club, Ozolio, SeaToSummit.
Imua means “to move forward” in Hawaiian and we hope to see all of you and more for next years’ race.