Liberty Challenge

A Successful Liberty Challenge

Team Puakea was super stoked to make out to the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge to support New York Outrigger and participate in the event. We had the Newport Aquatic Center‘s Mens Outrigger team, who has been training with Johnny for the past one and half seasons, come out to race our Puakea Unlimited.

We trailered the unlimited out to New York specifically for this race and to have a canoe for east coast clubs to check out. We setup our booth on the pier on Saturday and it was great to meet so many faces. It was also fun to watch those faces pick up the Puakea paddle for the first time. We were stoked to be sharing our designs with all who were passing by.

The blessing in the early, overcast morning was an experience as we were surrounded by skyscrapers, canoes, paddling ohana and the Hudson. And then the ladies were off! Team Bradley came first across the line a little over 2 hours later with an over 4 minute gap on the 2nd place team.

The overcast sky started to sprinkle as the mens teams made their way to the start line. We were super stoked all the boats had trackers so we were getting constant updates of the race as they raced up and down the river. Here is a cool video from Val Stepanchuk that NAC got of Lady Liberty from the GoPro on their boat.


Photo Credit: Roberto of New York Outrigger from safety boat.

They came across the line at 1:45:17 in first place a full minute before 2nd place. We were naturally stoked for these guys, because if you have been following their story you know they have been putting in a ton of hard work and lots of time on the water together to build a very dynamic crew.

Once back on the pier there were photos, interviews, handshakes with other crews and lots of celebration as the mixed crews hit the water for the last race of the day. Thanks to everyone who came by the booth to congratulate the boys and talk story with us. The festivities ended with a great luau and the awards ceremony.


NAC receiving their first place award on stage at the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge.

This event is only going to get bigger with the coming years. With 75 crews entered in the races this time around we were stoked to see a wide range of paddlers from all over the US and even the world. The event is put on by Hawaiian Airlines in partnership with NYO and it doesn’t disappoint. There are a ton of logistics that go into every race and this event went off without a hitch from our perspective, even though we all know no event is smooth sailing when it comes to putting it on. If you haven’t made it out there yet for the Liberty Challenge we highly suggest it.