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Na Wahine O Ke Kai, Moloka‘i Hoe canceled amid pandemic

Two iconic championship canoe races from Molokai to Oahu will be canceled again this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 Hawaiian Airlines Na Wahine O Ke Kai, scheduled for Sept. 26, and the Hawaiian Airlines Moloka’i Hoe, set for Oct. 10, have both been canceled, organizers announced Friday.

“This collective decision reflects our steadfast commitment to put individual and community safety ahead of racing for this 2021 season,” Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association President Lapule Schultz and Na Wahine O Ke Kai President Carleen Ornellas said in a joint statement.

“While assessing the ongoing situation and weighing reports provided by medical professionals along with state and county officials, as well as reckoning with lead time for event production and growing financial constraints, it became very clear that proceeding with these races was not feasible nor advisable,” Schultz and Ornellas continued. “In addition, recommending more than 2,000 paddlers and support staff travel from around the world into our fragile communities during this time of uncertainty would be imprudent.”

The early decision to cancel preseason and regatta seasons for most canoe racing associations around the state were a result of individual county restrictions, the statement said. Six-man canoe paddling is still semi-restricted.

“As our associations wait on the phased reopening of our sport, we feel that the first order of business for our clubs will be to focus on the needs of their own paddlers and families impacted by COVID-19,” Schultz and Ornellas said.

Na Wahine O Ke Kai is scheduled to take place Sept. 25, 2022, with the Moloka’i Hoe following on Oct. 9, 2022.

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