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Duke Kahanamoku Beach Challenge set for March 15

The 30th Duke Kahanamoku Beach Challenge is set for March 15 and features outrigger and paddleboard races.

Honolulu visitors on March 15 can enjoy sporting activities in the water and on the sand while soaking up the sun along Waikiki Beach during the 30th annual Duke Kahanamoku Beach Challenge.

Admission to the event, named for the legendary surfer, is free. It kicks off at 9 a.m. with a procession of double-hulled canoes. As the canoeists proceed along the shoreline, students from the Kamehameha Schools’ Hawaiian ensemble class will perform an ancient hula and song known as a kahiko.

The opening ceremony will be followed by a quarter-mile sprint race in outrigger canoes and stand-up paddleboard races. On shore, ancient Hawaiian games, including a traditional tug-of-war called huki kaula, will be played.

Live entertainment and a craft fair will also be featured.

The Beach Challenge will be at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, home to a recently restored 31-story rainbow made of tiles. The hotel offers surfing and SUP lessons at its 5-acre lagoon, which is named for the famed athlete.

Duke Kahanamoku popularized surfing in California and around the world in the early 1900s. After Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959, he was appointed as Hawaii’s “Ambassador of Aloha.”

It was in swimming that he won three gold Olympic medals for the U.S. — one in 1912 at the Stockholm Games (freestyle swimming) and two in 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium, again in freestyle swimming and as a member of the 800-meter relay team.

Waikiki’s Kahanamoku Street, which was named for him, is near his boyhood home. He died in 1968 at age 77.

Locals and visitors alike regularly visit a statue of Kahanamoku along Waikiki Beach to place colorful leis on his outstretched arms.

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