Wa‘a Kiakahi Perpetuates Islands’ Sailing Canoe Legacy - Kaanapali Resort
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Wa‘a Kiakahi Perpetuates Islands’ Sailing Canoe Legacy

The 16th annual Wa‘a Kiakahi will grace Maui shores from June 3 to 5, welcoming 8 six-member crews from all islands to share with the public the history and proficiency of traditional Hawaiian sailing canoes.

Created by the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association (HCSA), the three-day event features traditional ceremonies, sailing canoe rides and educational talks about celestial navigation and water skills. HCSA conducts its races in the same mode as ancient Hawaiians: sailors do not make crew changes, and they travel every channel connecting the Hawaiian Islands.

Kā‘anapali Beach Resort Association is the title sponsor of the event, and the public is invited to interact with the canoes and sailors on Kā‘anapali Beach.


► Friday, June 3

11:30 a.m. Race start from Kahului Harbor. Crews race approximately 27 miles to Kā‘anapali.

3 p.m. Race completion at Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, Kā‘anapali Beach. Arrival of sailing canoes with a traditional Hawaiian welcome ceremony.

► Saturday, June 4

10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Free sailing canoe rides for all ages (weather and sea conditions permitting), “talk story” opportunities with race team members, and demonstrations, all happening in front of Ka’anapali Beach Hotel.

► Sunday, June 5

8 a.m. Race start from Kā‘anapali Beach. Sailing canoe send-off and traditional Hawaiian farewell ceremony.  Crews race approximately 72 miles to Waimanalo on Oahu.

The race from Kahului to Kā‘anapali is a challenging one. The direction of sail is constantly changing as the canoes round the north shore, sailing past Kahakuloa and Kapalua.  As they pass Kahakuloa, they start heading more downwind and will eventually have to jibe (turn of sail direction) as the canoes will have sailed 180 degrees as they come into the Kapalua area, this can be very tricky on brisk tradewind days.

On Sunday, the 72 mile race will launch from Kā‘anapali Beach. This will be the first time in over 15 years that well will do this race course.  Starting at Kā‘anapali Beach, the crews will first cross the Pailolo Channel which is known for it blistery winds and high seas.  Then the crews sail between the Lana’i and Moloka’i, this can be a slow sail due to the high mountain range on Moloka’i that blocks the wind in the channel.  Therefore, the crews will sail close to Lana’i and slowly make their way to the south west point of Moloka’i (La’au Point).  Once past La’au Point, the wind picks up in the Kaiwi Channel and from there it’s a broad reach to Waimanalo, Oahu.

The participating teams for 2022 are:

  • Olukai, Kaua‘i
  • Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel, Maui
  • Maui Jim, Kaua‘i
  • Aston Whaler, O‘ahu
  • Hui Nalu Canoe Club, O‘ahu
  • Moloka‘i Canoe Club, Moloka‘i
  • Ka’anapali Beach Resort Association, Maui
  • Auwahi Wind, O‘ahu

The public will get a chance to meet the sailors and to take a free ride in a sailing canoe on Saturday. There is no age requirement to go out, and life jackets will be provided for non-swimmers.

“After a two-year hiatus, we’re honored to once again host the Wa’a Kiakaha for the 16th year,” said Shelley Kekuna, executive director, Ka’anapali Beach Resort Association. “From the start we felt it was important to share the tradition of sailing canoes with the general public. We’re proud to be the host venue and sponsor.”

Wa‘a Kiakahi Perpetuates Islands’ Sailing Canoe Legacy

For more information, please visit https://hsca.info/.