In the outrigger canoe racing community, there is one race above all others: the Molokai Hoe. The Molokai Hoe is the premier race on the outrigging calendar and is on every paddler’s bucket list.

“Molokai Hoe” runs between the Hawaiian Islands of Molokai and Oahu, finishing on the world famous Waikiki Beach. It totals approximately 67 km in distance and is described as a changeover race. Races of these epic distances involve a crew of nine paddlers alternating between a six man canoe and its support craft, with in water changeovers of refreshed paddlers. For the Molokai Hoe this will take in excess of five hours of gruelling, mind destroying and body breaking paddling in the open ocean.

This year on 7 October, the Noosa Outriggers Open Men’s crew known as “the Loggerheads”, will take on the world’s best at Molokai in the toughest of all the divisions – the Open Men.

So with such a massive task ahead of them, the Loggerheads headed to Takapuna, a suburb in North Auckland, to start their campaign.

The Takapuna Beach Cup is New Zealand’s version of the Molokai Hoe, but on a much smaller scale. The Takapuna Beach Cup is a 42 km changeover race that leaves the beach at Takapuna and heads east around the islands of Rangitoto, Motutapu and Rakino, and back. It attracted all the best crews from around the Pacific and gave the Loggerheads a taste of things to come and an indication of the crew’s ability. The Loggerheads performed out of their skins and finished sixth in a hugely competitive field in a time of 3 hours 36 mins. The experience and knowledge gained will go a long way to making their journey to Molokai a successful one.

Now, with the Takapuna Beach Cup under their belts, the boys turn their attention to continuing their training and preparation for the six man South-East Queensland Season and National Titles, as well as another prestigious 42 km changeover race, the Gold Coast Cup in April.

In the coming months keep an eye out for the Loggerheads in their Noosa canoe churning up the Noosa River and Laguna Bay, and be sure to lend your support as the boys have a long hard road ahead.

If you would like to follow the Loggerheads’ campaign, they can be found under the name of Noosa Loggerheads on Facebook and Instagram.

By Jo Searle