Intense Summertime Paddling

Kapa‘a’s Kanesa Duncan-Seraphin (left) finished second at the Molokai to Oahu paddle July 29. Australia’s Jordan Mercer (right) took first. Molokai to Oahu Championship Race photo from David Simon

July and August are sometimes referred to as “the dog days of summer,” which brings about a connotation of laziness or inactivity. I suppose that’s partially true on Kaua‘i, where the summer months can provide far fewer opportunities for surf enthusiasts to take their boards out for incoming swells.

But I know one group would take issue with that moniker, as paddlers of all varieties have been busy at work out in the local open waters.

The past few weeks have included a pair of intense paddles that feature participants from across the globe. The third annual Na Pali Race July 21 was a definite success as 125 entrants headed into the water at Haena Beach Park and traversed the 17 miles to the West side, finishing up at Polihale Beach.

With the calm seas and mild conditions, the elements weren’t providing much assistance for the participants. It was all man and woman-power that got the paddlers through the epic course and to their scenic destination. One couple from Oahu told me that despite the difficulty, it was the best event they’ve competed in.

Anahola’s Mariko Strickland defended her women’s stand-up championship, arriving at Polihale after a paddle of 3 hours, 13 minutes and 2 seconds. The lack of wind kept her just shy of breaking her own course record in the same category (3:09:17). In fact, none of the previous course records was broken this time around.

Mariko Strickland snapped this photo of her $2000 check from her July 21 Na Pali Race victory

Hogan Kania, also a Na Pali record-holder, took the overall paddle title with a stock time of 2:56:19.

Aaron Ungerleider won the unlimited division (3:05:05) and Kamuela Aea won the 50+ crown (3:13:43).

Erin Wascher took first in the women’s paddle-board division (3:43:45).

As for the stand-ups, Kaeo Abbey set the pace with a time of 2:45:23. He and Strickland each took home $2,000 for their division championships, as did Kania.

Additional winners across all divisions included Kirk Ziegler, Nicole Madosik, Ryan Foley, Natalia Smith, Dave Parmenter, Laola Aea, Nick Marvin, Lynn Hamyoung, Makana Denton, Marleny Cotrim, Brian Kennelly, Tony Bardin, Wendy Rambo, Brando Watson, Leila Kawaihalau, Janna Bills, Nina Beatty, AJ Irons and Jessica Anderson.

The grueling Molokai to Oahu paddle followed July 29, with Kapa‘a’s Kanesa Duncan-Seraphin competing for the 12th time at the esteemed competition that also included pro surfers Joel Parkinson, Rob Machado and Jamie Sterling. An eight-time event champion, Duncan-Seraphin finished second in the overall women’s prone paddle division, completing the 32-mile trek in 5:45:00. She was bested only by Australia’s Jordan Mercer, who defended her paddleboard championship in a time of 5:34:53.

Following up on her Na Pali victory, Strickland was the third woman to complete the stand-up race, getting to Oahu in 5:34:33, just 6:15 after the top finisher, Big Island’s Jenny Kalmbach.

Kaua‘i had additional representation, including the three-man team of Kalani Vierra, Kawika Carvalho and Kimo Miranda in the men’s stand-up division, Dave Parmenter and Archie Kalepa in the two-man stand-up division and Kevin Horgan in the men’s solo stand-up division.