Maui, HI April 28th, 2012

Conditions could not have been more perfect yesterday to welcome more than 60 excited paddlers who ventured down Maui’s famous northern coastal waters for a 3 mile downwind practice paddle, all in preparation for the 4th Annual Ho’olaule’a Fun Paddle presented by OluKai Premium Footwear, taking place this year with the additional SUP & OC1 races on Maui, May 12th & 13th.

At 8:00 AM stand up paddlers and a few kayakers of all ages and abilities signed in at the Paia Youth & Cultural Center and were greeted by OluKai’s Hawaii Ambassador, Matthew Murasko,  and by me, Suzie Cooney. With the help of our amazing volunteers,  we prepared them for their epic downwind coast adventure. For some it was their first real downwind experience.

After our safety meeting it was time for me to warm up the crowd with a few pre paddle exercises to shake off the jitters. The course which began at Paia Bay was 3 miles to the lifeguard tower at Kanaha Beach Park. There was a small break that made the entry a little heart pounding but everyone made it out just fine. What a site!  ( Below, paddlers arriving, workout and pre launch )

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With the trade winds starting to blow at around 18-20 mph, the wind swells started to build and gently offer our group some nice glides and rides. The smiles and grins were big, and for some the look of concentration, intense and laser focused.  Everyone was helping each other and encouraging one another as the pack spread out as it normally does.  Part of the learning is to navigate in water that is moving with a lot more action and swell. This meant bending one’s knees deeper, moving back a little further, and paddling at a faster pace with a lot more effort. To some’s surprise, some were connecting rides and glides like a pro. That was awesome to see.

The first paddler in was a fine gentleman named Bruce. Way to go Bruce!  The average time was about 45 minutes or less and for others it took about an hour and some a little longer. High fives and hugs and more big grins. I think these paddlers are ready. ( paddling and finish )

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We’d like to thank our volunteers: Alane, Milton, Randy, Donnie, Paul, Tommy, Wes, and Jeff. Also a big Mahalo to Peter Swanzy, director of the Paia Youth & Cultural Center for hosting us.

A special thanks to Jimmie Hepp of Jimmie Hepp Photography for providing his time and talent to give us great memories. Reprints are available. Contact Jimmy direct:

Also a big shout out to Kelly Moore of Moore Water Time who offered her reliable and convenient downwind shuttle service to our paddlers. Be sure to call her to catch a ride and a glide.

It’s not too late to enter the main event. You can go to Neil Pryde in Kahului or register online. The Fun Paddle is $20 and includes the luau and awesome entertainment. And if you register before May 4th, ( the 8 mile Maliko race only ) you’ll receive a sweet pair of OluKai Premium Sandals, a value alone of $70. For the price of $50 for recreational, $100 elite, you get a cool race jersey, luau dinner, entertainment and you’ll be stepping in style.


Aloha, Suzie Cooney, CPT and owner of  Suzie Trains Maui – Naish SUP Team Rider


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