If you’ve ever wanted to experience the thrill of riding in a Hawaiian sailing canoe, here’s your chance!
OluKai will be offering free rides to the public as part of its first inaugural Ho‘olaule‘a on Saturday and Sunday, May 16 and 17, at the Lae ‘Ula O Kai Canoe Club at Kanaha Beach Park.
The premium footwear company is planning a host of events in celebration of the ocean and the cultures that surround it, with part of the proceeds going to benefit Maui Cultural Lands, the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association’s Junior Lifeguard Program, and Team OluKai, part of the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association.
The weekend’s most exciting events promise to be the open ocean races: Saturday’s eight-mile OC-1 downwind race from Maliko Gulch to Lae ‘Ula (start time 11 a.m.), and Sunday’s stand-up paddleboard race on the same course (noon start), featuring men’s and women’s recreational and elite divisions. The elite competitors will race for $15,000 in cash prizes, split equally between the men and women.
“I love this course!” said OluKai’s Hawai‘i ambassador Matthew Murasko, also an experienced waterman himself. “If the wind is blowing, Maliko is a really fast course.” And to make it even more interesting, Murasko has added a 300-yard beach run to the finish of Sunday’s SUP race “to engage the spectators.”
Competitors are encouraged to sign up in advance at Neil Pryde Maui. Entry fees are $50 for recreational competitors; $100 for elite. Race day signup at Maliko is also available for a slightly higher entry fee.
Entry fees include a lu‘au dinner (available to non-paddlers for $10) on Saturday evening, dished up by Lae ‘Ula O Kai Canoe Club members. Since no lu‘au is complete without hula and music, Saturday’s event will feature hula by Hula Alapa‘i I Maluuluolele and live Hawaiian music by the talented Paula Fuga.
Fun family activities will be offered throughout the ho‘olaule‘a from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days. Take a ride on a four-man surfing canoe or a Hawaiian sailing canoe—Team OluKai’s own “Kamakakoa” will be onsite, along with several others. Try your hand at ulu maika (a form of lawn bowling) or hukihuki (tug of war)—Maui Cultural Lands will host free ancient Hawaiian games, like moa pahe‘e (a form of dart sliding) and konane (a form of checkers). MCL members will offer information about the nonprofit organization’s restoration work in Honokowai Valley, led by Kupuna Ed and Puanani Lindsey.
“We want people to come down and enjoy themselves, to get involved in the culture,” Murasko said. “This event is all about ‘ohana.”
Founded in 2006, OluKai’s footwear is distributed to over 1,000 retailers worldwide. The high-end slippers are crafted from fine materials and feature handsewn details, deep heels and anatomical midsoles to ensure proper arch support.
“Anyone who says slippers are bad for your feet hasn’t heard of OluKai!” Murasko said. “Other slipper manufacturers might just take a chunk of rubber and cut it… There’s some engineering here, like with a pair of running shoes.”
OluKai created the ‘Ohana Giveback Program to help people working to preserve, create and enjoy Hawaiian culture. Every year, the company contributes time, resources and proceeds to mauka- and makai-based initiatives—mauka being MCL, and makai being the Hawai‘i Lifeguard Association, of which OluKai is the official slipper.
The company’s logo is the makau, or bone hook. The traditional Polynesian symbol is worn for strength, good luck, and safe passage over water—a fitting emblem for OluKai’s inaugural open ocean races from Maliko to Kanaha.
For race registration and more information, visit Neil Pryde Maui at 400 Hana Hwy. or www.olukai.com.