Trav’s Trippin’ Episode #7: Fun Times In Hawaii! (Olamau Race)
The latest episode of Trav’s Trippin, in which our intrepid explorer Travis Grant takes a whirlwind trip to Hawaii to compete in the epic Olamau race.
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Ok so this post isn’t so much about SUP but I thought you might wanna hear about a pretty awesome race I just did: the Olamau outrigger race in Hawaii.
But backing up for a second..!
Last time we chatted I was in France and had just finished a very different kind of race. We had a great after-party that night, with all the local French gang as well as my Aussie mates Jamie and Chris. Unfortunately I had to rise nice and early for an OC-1 race just over the border in Spain. Pumped!
haha but somehow I made it home to Rico’s place after the party, hit the sack, then got woken up a few minutes later to go do the race… It was time to switch over from a few solid months of SUP back into outrigger mode. I was about to hop on a plane to Hawaii for one of the biggest OC races in the world and this race in Spain was a great little warmup.
After the race I hopped on the overnight train to Paris along with my main man Alain (who lives in Australia but happens to be French, which has proven rather handy the past few weeks…). Was flogged from five straight days of racing and a few too many gin & tonics the night before (thanks Mitcho!), so it was pretty cool to be rocked to sleep as the train slowly wound its way up the west coast of France.
I only had a short stop in Paris but of course had to do some sightseeing. It’s Paris…
We got into the capital early in the morning and ready to charge, so Alain and I hired some bikes and went Tour de France style through the streets of Paris… literally. You really have to boss your way around the streets like you own them, taking your life into your own hands at times… Alain knew what he was doing so I just stuck close to the team leader and charged.
The Arc de Triomphe roundabout is, was, always has been insane… if you ask me it’s a huge circle, with 16 roads leading into it, no lanes and from what I could tell no rules either! So negotiating it on a three speed bicycle, weaving in and out of hundreds of cars, was quite the experience… but good fun once we made it out alive!
This was my last day in France so we went out and indulged a bit. Did the obligatory french hot chocolate (at some famous cafe, sorry Parisians I forget the name…) and had a great steak tartare, which is raw minced beef. Yes, raw. But it was great, I’m a big fan of French cuisine after this trip. The other Aussies and I couldn’t figure out how everyone stays slim over here. White bread, cheese, fatty (but delicious) ham, chocolate, desserts, wine… It’s such a paradox that the Americans even came up with a name or it.
So after all that it was finally time to say au revoir to France. I’ve had an awesome three weeks in Europe thanks to my sponsor NSP, but was time to head to warmer seas.
Next stop: The Big Island of Hawaii.
Landed Tuesday night and the race started Wednesday. It’s been a non-stop trip the past month and last week was no exception!
So in case you haven’t heard about it: the Olamau Race is a massive, three-day outrigger race on unlimited canoes with $50,000 in prize money. I was paddling for the Pflueger Honda team this year. Alan Pflueger foot the bill for an all-star team to see if anyone could get close to the top crews from Tahiti. The Tahitians are unbeatable in this sport, as you’ll see from the results table below, but we gave it a pretty solid crack.
The race itself was awesome. You can check out the video below from the previous years to get the idea. Seas were a bit less apocalyptic than in 2012 but we still had great fun out there.
So to the race… on the first day my team was 5th over the line, which we were pretty happy with considering the competition.
Then the first 10 miles on Day 2 was non-stop epic surfing. Nothing quite like catching open ocean swells in a 40 foot canoe! Though after that it was an intense side wind for 17 miles or so, which wasn’t as much fun…
On the third and final day we started with an 18 mile paddle to the nicest private resort in the world (Kukio), changed the whole crew, then paddled another 18 miles to the finish.
We ended up getting 5th place overall which the boys were pretty happy about. No surprises the star Tahitian teams got first and second, a mixed Hawaii/Tahiti team got third and another Tahitian boat was in fourth. So we were pretty stoked to be the first non-Tahitian crew at the end of the race.
The Tahitians are professionals that train and paddle like machines. They’re unstoppable and very, very impressive.
So yeah, Olamau 2013 was an amazing event and it was great to catch up with all my outrigger mates.
Danny Ching was there and Raimana the man from Tahiti bought a bunch of his paddling buddies over as well. Was good just to be sitting down and paddling again after all this funny stand up stuff haha.
Here are the results… It was about four hours a day of paddling, not so easy!
1st: Shell Va’a 10:45 38
2nd: EDT Va’a 10:53 43
3rd: Mellow Johnny’s Va’a 11:07 16
4th: OPT Va’a 11:34 06
5th: Pflueger Honda 11:43 49
6th: Kamanu Composites 12:10 22
7th: Riviera/Dana 12:15 09
8th: 404 Men 12:16 55
9th: Mahina Hoe 12:25 34
10th: Intova 12:40 08
It was a pretty late call to come over and do this race, I knew it’d be a big mission to make it from France to Hawaii in time, but I’m really glad I did it. Made me realise just how much I love outrigging. It’s so fast, so much fun, and with a team event like this it’s really tactical as well.
But even though we’re sitting down in outriggers and standing up on SUP boards, the two sports are actually really similar. There’s a good reason why Danny Ching is the man in the world of SUP Racing; because he’s the man in the world of outrigger racing (at least in an OC1, he’s got nothing on Tahiti in a six man! haha sorry mate couldn’t resist…).
Danny’s not the only one who’s made the switch either. If you’ve fallen in love with paddling through SUP alone then you probably wouldn’t realise just how many of the top guys have an OC background. So yeah, if you’ve never jumped in an outrigger canoe then I can definitely recommend it! One-man, six-man, doesn’t matter, it’s all good fun and super good cross training for your SUP races!
So that’s Olamau 2013 done and dusted. My hands have blisters all over them and I’m absolutely flogged, but I’ve just landed back in Australia and ready to head up to another big outrigger race: Hamo.
The week of racing at Hamilton Island in Queensland is the main event in our country. Everyone will be there and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Not even a juicy steak tartare (…maybe if it was served with a nice glass of french wine). Plus it’s the 30th anniversary of the event this year and my team (Outrigger Australia) are gunning for4 wins in a row!
Hamo has everything: Outrigger, OC1, SUP, surf ski, and pretty much any ocean paddling you can think of. Should be a fun event. I think the full name is the “Gatorade Clash Of The Paddles” but everyone just calls it Hamo!
So that’s this week. Then in about 10 days I’m hopping on a plane back to Hawaii to do a few SUP races on Oahu and Maui. Pumped!!
Thanks for tuning in, hope you’ve been having as much fun in the ocean as I have lately. I sometimes wonder who follows my adventures but mr. Boss Man assures me plenty of people are, so I guess I’ll keep on keeping you guys updated!
>>> MORE: Check out Travis Grant’s previous adventures on our Trav’s Trippin’ mini-site