Think of it as crashing the World Series: Stand-up paddleboarding is still so new that even amateurs can race in one of the sport’s biggest competitions, the Quiksilver Waterman’s Hoe.
Held on Oahu’s Duke Kahanamoku Beach, a wide swath of white sand with a reef break that calms swells, the event attracts competitors from as far as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Brazil. This year, the races will swell to more than a thousand competitors in stand-up and prone paddleboarding, as well as one-man and six-man outrigger canoe races. Ten-time world paddleboard champion Jamie Mitchell (a 2011 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year) is on board to design the courses for relay, sprint, and distance races, and all manner of enthusiasts are welcome, from elites to landlubbers.
Meanwhile, families can tackle the family relay or take on races designed for tots. Though spectators from nearby Waikiki hotels gather to watch, the vibe remains decidedly mellow, with live music and picnics on the beach. For visitors, it’s an immersion in what Hawaii does best: ocean sports, sun, and the simple art of kicking back.
Get Planning: Entry fee to race $150 (elite racers) and under
Photograph by Chase Olivieri, Quiksilver Waterman’s Hoe
Surfing likes its legends. When the surf media started comparing a teenage girl from Hawaii with the sport’s reigning superstar and 11-time world champion, Kelly Slater, some of the passionate fans of the sport labeled it as hype. Carissa Moore made the first step toward proving the doubters wrong this year when she became the youngest person ever to win the world title. Her aggressive but fluid riding turned heads. Later his month Moore will be the first woman in the modern era to compete in the men’s Triple Crown of Surfing. Not bad for a 19-year-old.
In 2010, the then 18-year-old Hawaiian began making her case for greatness when she was accepted onto the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Women’s World Tour. Moore won two events, earned a nod as Rookie of the Year, and graduated from high school. She was just getting her bearings on surfing’s center stage. By 2011, Moore crushed the female competition in surfing’s main events. During the ASP World Tour, she placed first in three events and never placed lower than third to win the overall title. In her two years on the tour, she’s already raked in $225,000 in purse money and attracted top-notch sponsors such as Red Bull, Roxy, and Nike.
Even though the women’s ASP World Tour ended early due to lack of sponsorship dollars, Moore’s season continued when she got wild card slots to surf alongside the world’s best male surfers on the male tour at the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa and the Van’s World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach, both on her home turf of Hawaii. The events are in November.
“I’m kind of nervous, but I’m also really excited,” says Moore. “I’m being realistic about what is going to happen. The guys I’m surfing against have a few more years and more experience on me, so I probably won’t make a heat, but if I do, great. That would be awesome.”