Duke’s Oceanfest Closes on a High Note with Surf Polo & Kahala Challenge

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 Above: Candice Appleby had every reason to smile after competing in, and winning, more events than any other athlete over the past week.
Above: Candice Appleby had every reason to smile after competing in, and winning, more events than any other athlete over the past week. Photo by Bernie Baker

BY JODI WILMOTT – The 10th annual Duke’s OceanFest drew to a close today with the final two events: the Kahala Challenge, at Fort DeRussy, and the Outrigger Hotels & Resorts Surfboard Water Polo at the Kapahulu breakwall. These events conclude a full week of ocean sports and celebrations that honor Hawaii’s legendary waterman Duke Kahanamoku and are a benefit for the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation.

The 800-yard swim/2-mile run/2-mile paddle ocean triathlon known as the Kahala Challenge was contested with 64 starters that included 3-person teams. The race enjoyed a fast finish courtesy of a rising swell that offered some great rides on the final paddle leg, which could be made on either an OC1 canoe, a 12-foot stock paddleboard, or a stand-up paddleboard. The OC1’s completed an expanded 2.5-mile distance course as a handicap against the smaller paddle craft.


First across the line was legendary Honolulu swimmer/triathlete John Flanagan, who successfully defended his 2010 title in a fast time of 44 minutes and 39 seconds. Flanagan chose a paddleboard as his craft for the final discipline.

“Swim is my best leg and that’s the shortest, unfortunately,” said Flanagan. “But I just try to put in three strong efforts. The three disciplines are a great dynamic.”

The first woman across the line was Honolulu’s Candice Appleby, on a stand-up paddleboard in a time of 54:34. Appleby finished 9th overall and was a sentimental crowd favorite given that she competed in more ocean events and rounds of competition than any other athlete – male or female – during OceanFest. Her wins this week also included the Go Pro Presents C4 Waterman Stand-Up Race and the Maui Jim Hawaii Paddleboard Championship. She was also a finalist in the Hawaiian Airlines Duke’s Legends Surf Classic, riding for the Kona Brewing team; and competed in the BearsWave.com Tandem Surfing event, lifting Vanina Walsh. Candice dedicated her win to Duke – the ultimate ocean inspiration.

The start of the Kahala Challenge. Photos: Bernie Baker

“I’m really proud to be at Duke’s OceanFest, celebrating everything Duke has done for ocean sports,” said Appleby. “To celebrate Duke’s birthday I participated in as many events as I could. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it today. I was really tired. But I figured, what the heck, it’s a good training day. So I can’t be happier.”

A full day of round-robin competition was held in the Outrigger Hotels & Rsorts Surfboard Water Polo competition that ended in a feisty re-match between last year’s top two teams:

Hawaiian Islands/Wahoo’s and Paumalu.

Hawaiian Islands/Wahoo’s once again came out on top and Paumalu promised a winners-take-all-glory rematch come OceanFest 2012.
“In Hawai’i we greet friends, loved ones and strangers with Aloha, which means with love. Aloha is the key word to the universal spirit of real hospitality, which makes Hawai’i renowned as the world’s center of understanding and fellowship.
Try meeting or leaving people with Aloha. You’ll be surprised by their reaction. I believe it and it is my creed. Aloha to you.” – Duke Paoa Kahanamoku