Olukai Hoolaulea Race – Painful but Fun



Mark Raaphorst from S.I.C. kept talking about the Olukai race that went on May 17 and 18, 2009 and it sounded like fun so I flew from Oahu to Maui to participate. I was excited because Maliko downwinders are legendary and I was ready for the action. Before the race weekend, I kept looking at the wind forecasts and got worried because the forecast was for a headwind and not the awesome 25+ mph tailwind that we see and hear about.


olukai-race-12.JPG     Mark Raaphorst from S.I.C. – 2nd Place in Elite Male Division

I have to admit that the race turned out to be the hardest paddle I’ve ever done and ever want to do. It was a beautiful day, sunny and blue skies but there wasn’t any wind. In fact, there was a slight headwind when we first started out. I started the race pounding away when I realized that I would be out of energy in 5 minutes going at that pace. Once I paced myself, everyone started passing me. First, it was guys on 12′ SUPs. Next it was women on 12′ SUP’s. The kids were already beating me and I was determined not to be last. My shirt was soaked with sweat. Enough complaining already…the food and people were exceptionally great. It was like one big family. Everyone was friendly and positive. They all looked way younger than their age. Donna Badome (Mark Raaphorst’s wife) won the 50 – 59 year old category on a 12′ Ku Nalu SUP. She finished something like 20 seconds in front of me. For the last 1.5 miles, I was trying to catch her and could not do it. I wish she was on some super high tech 18′ machine that Mark shaped but she was on a stock 12′ Ku Nalu. I know she’s a great paddler (she looks like a triathlete) so I don’t feel that bad. At least she didn’t laugh at me. Check out the video:


(click thumbnail to launch video)

Here’s a photo recap of the race and events:

olukai-race-11.JPG         Spectators watching the finish

olukai-race-13.JPG         Junior watching for his son

olukai-race-01.JPG         $7/day got me an upgrade from 2 door Yugo to this van

olukai-race-15.JPG           More spectators

olukai-race-18.JPG           Dave Kalama – #1 in Male Elite Division

olukai-race-25.JPG          Sign in table

olukai-race-27.JPG           Ocean Paddler TV interviewing Mark Raaphorst

olukai-race-28.JPG          An excited paddler trying on his race shirt

olukai-race-30.JPG           Pre-race strategy talk

olukai-race-53.JPG           Maui Wahines

olukai-race-19.JPG         Full loaded

olukai-race-42.JPG           F-16 version 2 – This is what I rode

olukai-race-47.JPG           Sam Pa’e with his purple Vortice SP

olukai-race-44.JPG           F Series: Left to Right – Ku Nalu 12′, F-14, F-16, F-18

olukai-race-37.JPG           C4 Vortice XP and Vortice

olukai-race-45.JPG           Kiwi Mark Jackson’s F-18

olukai-race-33.JPG         Naish SUPs

olukai-race-51.JPG          Weapons of the day

olukai-race-55.JPG        More weapons

olukai-race-60.JPG           Pre-race Pule (prayer)

olukai-race-66.JPG           Picture taking helicopter

olukai-race-63.JPG         The first ones out to the water start

olukai-race-65.JPG           Paddling out to the water start

olukai-race-68.JPG         Waiting for the start

olukai-race-69.JPG           The closest I got to Dave Kalama during the race…he was out of sight in a few minutes

olukai-race-70.JPG          This is where you drop your board and paddle and begin to run

olukai-race-71.JPG          The finish line – after the 300 yard run

olukai-race-72.JPG          Happy to be finished

olukai-race-73.JPG          Aaron Napoleon (#3 Male Elite Division) happily talking story…doesn’t even look like he broke a sweat even though he did the same race on an OC-1 the day before and placed 4th.

olukai-race-75.JPG          Morgan Hoestery after the race

olukai-race-76.JPG           Carrying the board after the race

olukai-race-79.JPG          Boards galore

olukai-race-83.JPG           Women winners

olukai-race-84.JPG          Donna Badome (Mark Raaphorst’s wife) with her #1 trophy

olukai-race-86.JPG           Male Elite Winners (They won money) – Left to Right: Dave Kalama, Mark Raaphorst, Aaron Napoleon, Scott Trudon, Alan Cadiz, Livio Menelau

olukai-race-89.JPG          Male winners

Click on results image to enlarge


Download race results on PDF here:


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3 Responses to “Olukai Hoolaulea Race – Painful but Fun”

  1. DW 1DW

    What was the race distance?

  2. Evan Leong 2evan

    DW – Not sure…maybe 8 or so miles. I think the normal run is 9 miles but I’m not sure where that finishes.

    Anyone out there know?

  3. Mark 3Mark

    Maliko Gulch to Kanaha Beach Park is a downwind dream for outrigger canoeist and standup paddlers alike.

    Approximatly a 6.5 mile downwind run in blasting trade winds with numerous “bumps” to sleigh ride you to the picturesque and famous Kanaha beach Park Maui. Dodging giant turtles, tenatious tiger sharks, windsurfers and kiters is all part of the ocean ohana journey.

    The Hawaiian Islands have been the birth place of many an ocean “spin-off”. Outrigger canoeing, ” The Tu-Tu

    (GrandMa) that 1st paddled her way here, soon spawned the Royal sport of Surfing, and like eager copy cats, Windsurfing, Kiteboarding and now Stand Up Paddle surfing followed metamorphisically behind.

    Each mutation has had it’s head butting sessins with it’s previous generation and Stand Up Paddle Surfing is no exception. Prehaps Mr Bob Marley’s lyrics are indicative of the struggle…. Get Up Stand Up … Stand up for your rights. Mathew Murasco and Mr Marley must have been ” InSync ” on this one, as on the weekend ofMarch 15th and 16th, proudly self acclaimed Hawaiian Ambasador Mat Mursko along with OluKai Footwear organized the Olukai Ho’olaulea Festival, supporting and benifiting Team Olukai Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Club, The hawaiian Jnr Life Guard Assos. and Maui Cultural Lands.

    Amongst the many incredible events and performances were the canoe and stand up paddle races. The 1st annual OluKai Ho’olaulea Ocean Festival launched an Armada ( Hui Nui ) of “Sweepers” (stand up paddle boarders) and outrigger canoeists to the infamous Maliok Gulch for the chance to cash in on a generous $15,000 in Prize Money (equally split between men and women)

    Unlike most May Day’s on Maui’s North Shore, this particular weekend, the Trades took a vacation to Vegas and left us with a balmy flat ocean dusted with a little Big Island Vog ( Volcano Bad breath )

    None the less the show must go on, and on it went. Approx 91 yellow gersey’d paddlers took to the water in several divisions, to gutt it out down the coast to Kanaha.

    Despite the dissapointment of the M.I.A. Trade winds, the light air, flat ocean conditions kinda leveled the playing field so to speak, and gave the fleet of sweepers a fighting chance at staying closer with the Pro’s of the sport who have the place wired when it’s 20 -30 knotts with 6′ – 10′ swells.

    It was a POND, a Lake, an Olympic Swimming Pool ! The flag went up, the horn blew and silently we all took off, westboundish for the Big Red Bouy, straining our eye’s for the slightedt bump n glide to push us above cruising speed and get us downsteam to the finish line, the food line and the showers.

    A ” Swan Lake ” battle between legendary Hawaiian Waterman David Kalama and equally legendary waterman….or as we know him “EuroMan” S.I.C. board shapper Mark Raaphorst ensued.

    A closer than normall paddleing duel had David Kalama hit the beach first, and run the 150 or so yards to the finish line in a time of 1hr 08min with Mark Raaphorst nipping at his heals like a Doberman Pitt Bull.

    mark finished close behind and the folowing top 10 paddlers a respectable distance behind him.

    Hats Off to all competitors, organizers, volunteers and spectators. A special MAHALO NUI LOA to Mathew Murasko and OluKai for a flawlessly run spectacularly fun event, with great people, prizes, music, food, fun and lots of ALOHA.

    As one of many paddlers that day I felt uniquely blessed and aware of just how breath taking maui’s North Shore is, and how true the local saying…”LUCKY WE LIVE HAWAII’ is.

    I remind myself that …lucky we live hawaii can also be a statement of not just were we live, but HOW we live.

    Stand Up paddling has delivered more to me than just a board a blade and a cool new sport. It has delivered me even closer to Mother Ocean and closer to my Ohana ( Family ) It has also graciously allowed me to adopt a huge new quiver of really great friends.




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