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The Ali'i Challenge - Kona Village Resort

Photo courtesy Charla Photography

The Annual
Queen Lili'uokalani Race

The world's largest long distance outrigger canoe race is set for August 31-September 4, 2017.


Ali'i Challenge Canoe Race

Queen Lili'uokalani Canoe Race → Ali'i Challenge


5th Annual Ali'i Challenge

Monday: September 4, 2017
17.5 miles paddling + tasks of skill and knowledge

Ali'i Challenge - Bringing Canoes Ashore
Photo courtesy Charla Photography
Kai 'Opua Canoe Club is excited to announce that we will once again be including the Ali'i Challenge in its Queen Lili'uokalani Race Weekend. The race will be held on Labor Day - Monday, September 4. This race is the third day of the 3-day weekend and will give our race participants a different experience from beginning to end.

NOTE - the format of the paddling segment has been updated. We are not doing a full crew of 6 women on the first paddling leg, and then a full crew of 6 men on the second. Instead, both legs of the paddling course will consist of MIXED crews - 3 men will paddle with 3 women.

While researching for clues and tasks for last year's race, our Ali'i Challenge directors realized we have many years of possibilities to tie our race to the rich culture of historic Kailua Village. So you can expect to experience some of culture during the race. The paddling portion of the race is pretty straight forward - with a little twist thrown in somewhere along the way. The land course will have new tasks and challenges. To get an idea of what last year's race was like check out the photos that Susan Bland Anderson took as she followed Team Paddle Me from start to finish.

The paddling distance for the Alii Challenge is 17.5 miles, split into two triangle courses. For the first triangle leg (just over 8 miles), the first mixed crew of 3 men and 3 women will start at a line just off the Kailua-Kona pier. The course will run north, the first turn will be at a buoy just outside the Honokohau Harbor. Then the course will double back on itself and the second turn will be at a buoy approximately 1/2 mile south of the Kailua-Kona pier. The third turn will be right about where the finish line is for Saturday's men's race, for a short approach to a lane marked by buoys off the pier where the crew change for the next mixed crew of 3 men & 3 women will take place. This is a water change, basic swimming ability is required but the ability to swim fast will not be a determining factor in the race. The second triangle leg (just over 8 miles) will be a repeat of the first triangle course.

At the conclusion of the second paddling triangle course, a time split will taken. From here the rest of the Alii Challenge is on! This will include clues and tasks for the land portion of the race, which incorporate historic and cultural aspects of the immediate area of Kailua-Kona and Kamakahonu. Your crew of 12 paddlers will have to take on the land course as one, covering approximately 3/4 mile on foot to accomplish 3+ tasks. As always, running is not allowed so moving your entire crew cooperatively will be the key.

Here's your first clue, while you are around the area of Kamakahonu during the race weekend, be watchful for any of our many historic and cultural artifacts that might be right under your nose.

And of course, another great tool for learning more about Ali'i Drive, from Kailua-Kona to Keauhou is to download this new FREE APP.

Each crew's paddling time split will be recorded, but overall Open and 50+ crew winners will be awarded to top finishers for the entire paddling/land course.

Ali'i Challenge - Kona Village
Photo courtesy Charla Photography

What do you need for Ali'i Challenge?
Every crew participating will have to bring a flag to represent themselves. This can be a flag from your canoe club, your state or your country. The flag should be approximately 24" in length and be waterproof. If you don't have this flag ready at the start of the race, your crew will be delayed to make a flag before being allowed to start.

De-rigging canoes (iako to hull) at the conclusion of the second paddling triangle will be part of the race so bring your own quick straps. You will also need duct tape and two bailers.

Basic swimming ability for all 12 crew members is required. While running is not allowed for any land portions of the race, all 12 crew members should be able to cover approximately 3/4 mile on land and this must be done together. Time penalties will be given to any crew seen running during the race.

Most importantly, be assured this will be a very fun and competitive race...paddling, reasoning and working together will be the key to success in the Ali'i Challenge!

Race Format: Each 12-person crew will consist of 6 women and six men. Divisions are Open and 50+.

  • An open water change will be made half way through the 17.5 mile paddling course, the first mixed crew of 3 men/3 women jump out, and the second mixed crew gets in, at the crew change area marked by buoys off the Kailua-Kona Pier.
  • When the second crew finishes the paddling portion, then all 12 crew members join to compete in the skills and tasks portion of the challenge.
  • Lunch and awards will follow at the Laverne's restuarant and bar on Alii Drive.

Sound like fun? We are capping the number of crews entered for the 2017 Ali'i Challenge at 30 crews and the deadline to enter is Wednesday, August 23, 2017. Don't wait, once we fill our capacity of 30 crews, entries will no longer be accepted.

Were you planning to come to Queen Lili'uokalani this year with only a crew of 6 and would like to do the Ali'i Challenge? We suggest you either get your own coconut wireless going to make a mix crew of 12, or log onto our Queen Lili'uokalani blog to connect with other crews that want to team up.

Ali'i Challenge - Getting Ashore
Photo courtesy Charla Photography
Other Ali'i Challenge Details:

The entry fee of $480.00 includes the use of any support/escort boat necessary during the race. Canoes for out-of-state crews will be provided by Kai 'Opua Canoe Club. As with the prior two days of racing, you must bring your own quick straps or line to rig these canoes.

If you are an off-island crew that has shipped a canoe to Kona for the race weekend and use that canoe for the Ali'i Challenge, you will have to make arrangements for trailering your canoe to Young Bros. in Kawaihae after the race. If you are a Big Island crew, you will be expected to provide your own canoe.

The entry fee includes the awards lunch. Canoes must meet HCRA open, non-koa specifications. Awards will be given first through forth place in both divisions.

Race Division and Age Requirements:

  • Open (18 and older)
  • 50+ (50 years and older)
  • 12 person crew - six women, six men

Race Schedule:

  • 7:15 am - Race Meeting - meet at elbow of Kailua Pier
  • 8:30 am - Mandatory canoe safety check
  • 9:00 am - Pule
  • 9:30 am - Race start
  • 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm crews finishing (paddling and land portion)
  • 2:00 pm - lunch and awards

Please remember, we are limiting the number of entries to this race - so register online today. And don't forget - we will only assure you of a canoe when you entry fee is paid - deadline is Wednesday, August 23, 2017!

If you love to paddle and have a sense of adventure, we hope you enter this year's Ali'i Challenge with your friends, old and new.


What's New
with the Q.L. Races?

Live Tracking for Saturday's Races! This year, the Queen Liliuokalani Race is excited that we have teamed up with the innovative products and services company, DotVision, to bring you live tracking of Saturday's races. You will be able to track your favorite crews and events LIVE. A link to the official site will be published on the website and our Facebook pages prior to the race.

Also new in 2016, we have added MIXED Iron Saturday Races to our schedule! But if you require a canoe for the mixed races - you must act fast! We are only loaning out 10 canoes each for the Mixed Open and Mixed Masters (40+) races. Once we have reached that limit, YOU MUST PROVIDE OR SECURE YOUR OWN CANOE FOR THIS RACE. NOTE, THERE IS NO LIMIT OF ENTRIES. There is only a limit on the number of canoes we are lending out.

Queen Lili'uokalani
Race Sponsors


Kai 'Opua Canoe Club welcomes donations from individuals, corporations, trade associations and others interested in our organization and community services. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, donations to the Kai 'Opua Canoe Club are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

To donate online using your Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover card, click here and you will be directed to our secure Donations page.