Five crews of Greater Victoria paddlers from the Victoria Youth Paddling Club and Ocean River Paddling Club are set for a busy summer as they get ready for the Queen Lili long distance outrigger race in Kona, Hawaii.
The 30 kilometre paddle takes place in September and while it’s called a race, paddler and fundraising organizer Loreli Urquhart stresses that it’s mostly about friendship and family.
“It’s called an “ohana” race. It’s a family. So if you’re seeing a boat in trouble…you’re not racing to win or to finish or to get a good time, you’re helping your family and that’s what I really love about it,” she said.
It’s also a unique opportunity for junior paddlers to experience a host of cultural activities that surround the paddle itself, adds Urquhart, who participated in the event 10 years ago.
“It’s a full festival…On Saturday after the race the whole village is shut down and all the paddlers gather and they carry lighted torches and they walk all through town. It’s so neat,” she said.
The two clubs are hoping to raise about $5,000 in order to lower the costs of the trip to Hawaii, and held a car wash in Metchosin on Sunday in addition to other efforts including bottle drives and chocolate sales.
“We’re all paying but it’s just to try and bring [the cost] down a little bit,” she said.
Thirty paddlers from the region will be making the trip as well as support crew and chaperones for the younger members of the club.