Na Wahine O Ke Kai Race Rules and Guidelines

[ Click HERE to download Rules PDF ]


Rules subject to change without notice.

Na Wahine O Ke Kai Molokai to Oahu Canoe Race is produced and administered by the Na Wahine O Ke Kai Race Committee.

Na Wahine O Ke Kai is the property of Na Wahine O Ke Kai which hereby reserves all rights of any nature whatsoever. Any use of the race, its name, equipment or material associated with the race, without the expressed written consent of Na Wahine O Ke Kai, is prohibited.

I. Entry Eligibility

The race shall be open to all canoe clubs or organizations submitting an entry application and meeting the requirements of the Na Wahine Race Committee. OHCRA Race Rules will apply unless modified by the Na Wahine Race Committee. Merging of canoe clubs and/or organizations is allowed.

II. Entry Application

Each club or organization must submit a complete, official entry application provided by Na Wahine O Ke Kai. No entry will be accepted unless all requirements set forth are complied with. Na Wahine O Ke Kai reserves the right to accept or reject any application.

A. Entry Requirements

  1. Must submit all forms by deadline dates as specified on website
  2. Must submit entry fee by deadline date. Late fee will be assessed to any entry that is received after the deadline date.
  3. Must comply with OHCRA Hawaiian design canoe specifications.
  4. It is mandatory that the coach of each entry attend the coaches meeting and sign a log acknowledging attendance, receipt of Race Rules, and understanding and acceptance of safety issues.

Each crew must fully comprehend and follow all safety requirements set forth by the Na Wahine O Ke Kai race committee.

All canoes must meet OHCRA’s Hawaiian design canoe specifications.

B. Division of Paddlers

  1. OPEN – Shall consist of not less than and not more than 10 female paddlers who may not be less than 18 years of age on race day. Proof of age is required. The crew may include up to two (2) paddlers (ages 16 or 17) years old.  Parents of Junior paddlers must sign Form NW-3 Adult Waiver & Release of Liability and Promotional Rights.
  2. MASTERS 40+ – Shall consist of not less than and not more than 10 female paddlers who must be at least 40 years of age on race day. Proof of age is required.
  3. MASTERS 50+ – Shall consist of not less than and not more than 12 female paddlers who must be at least 50 years of age on race day. Proof of age is required.
  4. MASTERS 55+ – Shall consist of not less than and not more than 12 female paddlers who must be at least 55 years of age on race day. Proof of age is required.
  5. JUNIORS 16 TO 19 – Shall consist of not less than and not more than 12 female paddlers who must be at least 16,17, 18, or 19 years of age on race day. Proof of age is required. The team may include a Open division (any age) steersman to be used for seat 6 only. Parents of Junior paddlers must sign Form NW-3 Adult Waiver & Release of Liability and Promotional Rights.
  6. KOA – Same as Open division.

C. Paddlers Eligibility

  1. The final selected race crew will consist of 10 female paddlers in Open and Junior Masters 40+, and 12 female paddlers in Senior Masters 50+, 55+, and Juniors 16-19 divisions. Minimum age must be not less than 18 years of age as of the day of the race unless they are on a Junior team. The final crew list must be submitted no later than 12 noon on Saturday, the day before the race.
  2. All paddlers in every division must complete one (1) qualifying race (in the current year) consisting of twenty-five (25) or more miles which must include water changes with an escort boat and a canoe canvas cover. Paddlers are not required to qualify as a team in the qualifying race. Proof of entry and Completion of any qualifying race/s is required to be submitted not less than twelve (12) days prior to the Na Wahine O Ke Kai race. This will include:  1) the qualifying Race Crew Entry Form (including names, birthdates and any and all other information required on the form); 2) the signature of the Race Director or Executive Board Member of the Association that is hosting the race; and 3) the name & age of the coach and helper with their experience as a coach and paddler. The Na Wahine O Ke Kai race committee may accept or refuse any entry.
  3. It is the responsibility of the entrant’s/club/coaches to make certain that their paddlers are physically fit and capable of participating in this event. If there is a question regarding a paddler’s physical fitness (including pregnancy), it shall be the entrant’s/club/coaches responsibility to provide a medical form releasing the Na Wahine O Ke Kai Race Committee of any liability.
  4. All crew members must be able to swim.
  5. All paddlers, coaches, escort/auxiliary boat operators, crew and passengers must sign designated liability and publicity waivers.
  6. Each entry may participate in promotional activities and photos the day of the event and possibly for one month following the event. Any requests will be coordinated through the sponsor and their communications or public relations agent.
  7. In the event of unforeseen circumstances or emergencies, entries will be allowed up to 5:00 a.m. on race day, with the approval of the Race Committee. Late entry paddlers must have fulfilled all the requirements as set forth by these Rules.
  8. All protests will be referred to the Race Committee for a decision.
  9. There will be no unofficial entries.

D. Insurance

  1. All participants who are not a member of an HCRA club must provide a Certificate of Insurance for Commercial General Liability/Participants Liability with minimum limits of $1,000,000 for the race. The Certificate must name the following as additional insured’s:  Na Wahine O Ke Kai and the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association to include coverage for race day and the two days prior to the race.

III. Canoe Hull, Rigging & Equipment

A. Canoe Hull and Rigging

  1. All canoes (including rigging, ‘iako, ama, hull shape – above waterline, at waterline and below waterline) must meet current OHCRA Hawaiian design canoe specifications. The Na Wahine Race Committee shall have the final decision of approving or disapproving any entry, canoe or equipment.
  2. Full canvas or other covering on the canoe is mandatory.
  3. No sails or other means of propulsion other than paddling are allowed.
  4. No mechanical means of bailing water out of the canoe are allowed.
  5. No foot support or braces of any kind are permitted inside the canoe.
  6. The minimum racing weight of any canoe, excluding the ama ‘iako, and tying cord is set at 400 lbs. Minimum weight of hulls constructed before Aug. 1, 1988 shall be no less than 350 lbs. The minimum weight of hulls built after Aug. 1, 1988 will be no less than 385 lbs. Adding weight to a canoe will be the responsibility of the coach and crew. Lead weights must be permanently affixed to the canoe to bring the weight to 400 lbs. The added weight(s) must be evenly distributed between seats 2 and 5 and be permanently affixed to the bottom of the seats to bring the hull to 400 lbs. Only certified lead weights may be used and must be permanently bolted or screwed to the seats of the canoe throughout the race. Weights must not be removed during the race and must remain secured until clearance is given by the Na Wahine Race Committee. Adding weights to a canoe will be the responsibility of the crew. All added lead weights must be certified by OHCRA.
  7. During the race each canoe shall have its assigned identification symbol prominently displayed on the front manu. The number will be assigned by the Na Wahine Race Committee.
  8. An inspection of all equipment used in the race will be conducted at Hale O Lono Harbor prior to the race.
  9. At the discretion of the Na Wahine Race Committee, any equipment that substantially differs from the existing traditional Hawaiian design is subject to rejection.
  10. All canoes will be outfitted with a GPS tracking device for safety. The GPS devices are not to be removed until the canoe is on the beach. Once the race is over, the GPS devices will be removed and provided to a Na Wahine o Ke kai GPS device volunteer.

B. Paddles

1.Paddles must be single bladed and shaped of wood only. However, the paddle may have a protective or supportive (strengthening) covering which may be fibrous, Kevlar, carbon fiber, etc. The paddle may have an edging or prosthesis for protection on the bottom or sides. The paddle may have laminated (horizontally or vertically) synthetic material (kevlar, etc.) for strength and support. Extra paddles may be carried in each canoe during the race.

IV. Water Safety

  1. Each entry must provide U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFD’s) for each person on the escort and auxiliary boat and each paddler.
  2. Each entry is responsible for complying with all applicable State, Federal and US Coast Guard regulations and requirements.
  3. Each entry is responsible for assuring that each paddler, coach, helper and/or guest or passenger is water safe and has been briefed on the method(s) by which water changes will be made.
  4. Each entry is responsible for providing basic first-aid supplies.
  5. Each entry is responsible for providing adequate nourishment and liquids for crew members on the canoe and each person on the escort/auxiliary boat.
  6. The Na Wahine Race Committee reserves the right to place an official on any crew’s escort boat.

V. Course Rules

A. Start of the Race

  1. Prior to the start of the race, all canoes must do a visual radio check with the designated official boat, per instructions given at the coaches meeting.  If it is determined that a crew did not do a visual radio check that crew will be fined $500 and subject to disqualification.
  2. All canoes shall be ready to start before the time set for the beginning of the race. Race start will be approximately 300 yards seaward of Hale O Lono Harbor entrance groin. The start will be conducted in the following manner:
  3. All canoes will assemble behind the starting line. The race will begin at approximately 8:00 a.m.
  4. The start of the race will be signaled by the consecutive raising of a yellow, red and green flag from the official boat, or other method as described at the coaches meeting.
  5. Any canoe over the line at the start will be penalized 20 (twenty) minutes added to their official finish time.

B. Course

  1. The course shall be from the starting line at Hale O Lono Harbor, Molokai, to the finish line in front of the beach at Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki, Oahu. A crew may follow any course to the finish line, provided that it rounds the orange buoy at the channel entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel before crossing the finish line. Specific diagrams will be provided. Crews are urged to visit the finish line area before the race.
  2. There must be no more than six (6) female paddlers in any canoe at any time during the race.
  3. Starting and relief paddlers may be used at the discretion of the coach.
  4. The first change of paddlers will take place no earlier than La’au Point.  The first change will take place forty-five (45) minutes after the start of the race.  The Captain of the head official boat, will notify the crews, by VHF, that it is time for the first change. A violation penalty of five (5) minutes will be added to the finishing time for changing paddlers before the designated 45-minutes. The last change shall be before the channel marker off of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel.
  5. Each canoe must start and finish the race with six (6) female paddlers in the canoe to qualify for placement and awards.


C. Swamping or Overturning of Canoe

  1. If a canoe swamps or overturns after the start of the race, the canoe may be righted and bailed out and will be allowed to continue in the race. No mechanical means of bailing water out of the canoe are permitted during the race.
  2. The escort and/or auxiliary boat will standby and render any assistance to the swamped canoe but must not tow a swamped canoe in the direction of the finish line while the canoe is still officially entered in the race. To do this will result in disqualification.
  3. It is highly recommended that the escort boat be equipped with a bridle or rope for towing.

D. Escort and Auxiliary Boats/The escort and auxiliary boats are the responsibility of the club/crew they are escorting

  1. Each crew must have one escort powerboat to accompany them throughout the race. The escort boat must be no less than twenty-two (22) feet in length for 10 people or 24 feet for 12 paddlers. If the boat is less than 22 or 24 feet long, than an auxiliary boat, minimum 18 feet, is required. For safety purposes, all escort boats must have a combined U.S. Coast Guard approved carrying capacity to accommodate all the paddlers, coaches, drivers and helpers, along with all U.S. Coast Guard required equipment. Escort boats that do not adhere to the 22 (or 24) foot boat requirement will be subject to disqualification and or $500 fine, subject to the discretion of the Na Wahine O Ke Kai race committee.
  2. Form NAW-5, Escort Boat and/or Auxiliary Boat Waiver of Responsibility, must be completed by escort/auxiliary boat captains and given to the Race Committee at registration.
  3. All escort boat owners and/or operators must provide proof of insurance to race officials. This is the responsibility of each club/crew.
  4. All escort/auxiliary boats must meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements, and have a safe step ladder or other equally safe means for boarding the escort boat.
  5. At all times, escort/auxiliary boats must maintain a distance of 45 feet from the sides, back and front of any racing canoe or other boats. Canoes always have the right-of-way over escort/auxiliary boats. Escort/auxiliary boats cannot block or cause a wake to approaching canoes.
  6. Coaching and directing from the escort/auxiliary boat is permitted.
  7. Escort/auxiliary boats cannot be used to transport any articles to a canoe. However, any qualified person may pass refreshments or other articles to a canoe from the water; this person need not be one of the paddlers.
  8. Unsafe conditions due to an escort/auxiliary boat being overcrowded, or not meeting U.S. Coast Guard requirements or Na Wahine O Ke Kai requirements, may result in the boat being declared unfit or un-seaworthy as an escort or auxiliary boat by the Na Wahine Race Committee. Said entries will not be allowed to participate.
  9. All escort/auxiliary boats must be equipped with two-way radio communications. Only Marine Band (VHF) Radio communication is acceptable. No handheld VHF is allowed. Any entry whose escort/auxiliary boat does not have a working two-way radio will not be eligible to participate. All escort/auxiliary boats MUST pass through a radio communications checkpoint at Hale O Lono Harbor on race day and do a visual radio check.  If it is determined that a crew did NOT do a visual radio check they will be fined $500 and subject to disqualification.
  10. It is mandatory that all escort/auxiliary boats be equipped with a functioning GPS (Global Positioning System).
  11. All crews will be responsible for their escort/auxiliary boats and boat operators.  Na Wahine O Ke Kai reserves the right to disqualify any crew whose escort/auxiliary boat is not in compliance with the safety rules set by the race committee while on the race course.  No boat shall speed through the course at any time.  Failure to follow safety rules will result in disqualification of the crew and a $500 fine.
  12. Any outside assistance (i.e. pushing) from any escort/auxiliary boat will result in the disqualification of that crew.
  13. If your escort boat does not show up contact the Race Director immediately.
  14. If your escort boat breaks down or anything goes wrong on the course during the race, or if you decide to withdraw from the race, make sure to contact the head official boat.  Stay with your boat.
  15. Escort boat drivers, boat crew and paddlers should discuss the details of how changes will be conducted, to include exiting the boat and boarding the boat from the water, to ensure all parties are aware of and perform those actions in the safest manner possible.
  16. When making changes, escort boat drivers should drop the relief paddlers off a safe distance ahead of the canoe, ensuring that the boat is in neutral before the paddlers enter the water, and then maintain a safe distance from them until the change is made. When making changes paddlers cannot be helped in or out of the canoe from a non-participating paddler. When picking up paddlers, drivers and assistants must ensure that persons in the water are in sight at all times, and must confirm that the boat is in neutral at the safe and appropriate time on a case-by-case basis when close to paddlers and before allowing them to board.
  17. Escort boats shall keep a record of all injuries and report injuries that require medical attention to the race officials immediately.

VI. Race Cancellation

The race is subject to postponement or cancellation by the U. S. Coast Guard and the Na Wahine O Ke Kai Race committee upon receipt of information of weather conditions of such nature which would, in their opinion, render the running of the race unsafe.

If the race is postponed or cancelled, the crews are responsible for returning all paddlers, personnel and equipment to Oahu. All fees are non-refundable upon cancellation of any crew or cancellation or postponement of the race.
[click here for complete Cancellation of Race Policy] 


VII. Finish Line

All escort boats must do a visual radio check with a designated official boat as their canoe approaches the finish line, per instructions given at the coaches meeting.  No handheld VHF’s are allowed. A crew/club that does not adhere to the radio (VHF) requirement will be fined $500. All GPS devices on canoes will be removed and provided to a Na Wahine o Ke kai GPS device volunteer.

VIII. Alcoholic Beverages are Prohibited

The consumption and possession of alcoholic beverages are prohibited on State of Hawaii property (beach and sand area at the finish line); City and County property (restroom and grass area at the finish line); Hilton Hawaiian Village property, and on Federal Government property (grounds of the Hale Koa Hotel).