What is now the World's Largest Long Distance Canoe Race was actually started in 1972 simply to fulfill a need. The race really began as a way to train for the grueling Na Wahine O Ke Kai (Women) and the Molokai Hoe (Men) long distance canoe races from the island of Molokai to the island of Oahu.
Named in honor of the last reigning monarch of Hawaii, Queen Lili'uokalani, the first race fell on the Queen's birthday, September 2.
Since those early beginnings, the race has grown tremendously. We now are host to over two thousand five hundred paddlers from all over the world - Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Florida, California and Canada - just to name a few.
And it has grown from a one day event to three days of racing, with the first day being the strenuous single-hull canoe races, which cover the 18 miles (29km) between Kailua and Honaunau, followed by double hull and one-person canoe races on Sunday. All this action is then followed up with the Ali'i Challenge held on Monday - a northward paddle from Kailua-Kona to Kona Village.
Held each year on Labor Day Weekend, the fun includes a torchlight parade and dance on Saturday night, and an awards luau on Sunday.