Paddle Imua is an exciting annual multiple-discipline paddle race that launched as a worldwide concept for 2020 and included Wing Surfing as a new discipline.
As the primary fundraiser for Camp Imua for children with special needs, Paddle Imua has been running for 9 years and in the past enjoyed great participation from top-level competitors such as Andrea Moller, Sonni Hönscheid, Connor Baxter, Kai Lenny and more.
The race was initially created to cater to the downwind paddle community as a “fun” alternative to other competitive races run on the north shore of Maui. However, as pandemic-related travel restrictions threatened their largest fundraising event the idea of the Global Challenge was inspired. Several sources, most notably Bart’s Bash run by the Andrew Simpson Foundation worked together and the July race brought 16 countries on six continents around a wonderful cause and more than doubled participation of past years! People in Africa, Japan, New Zealand and Europe got a chance to witness and join in on what’s happening in our backyard in Maui.
The event has always had a focus on participation from the community, so it made sense to bring in new classes like wing surfing. Paddle Imua was the first race to allow hydrofoils two years ago and the explosion of foiling has been an amazing thing to watch. The downwind arena has been a proving ground for foiling, and now the wing makes it all more accessible.
There were a number of inspirational moments over the course of the weekend. The global locations delivered incredible images and heartwarming stories. Adaptive paddlers in Germany and Japan, and paddling waterways in Italy were highlights. The fleet of wings on Maui gathered for what was most likely the first and largest fleet to date.
In the lead-up to the event, there was much speculation as to who would be fastest down the racetrack; Wings, SUP Foils or more conventional windsurfs or kites. While there are no official results, top 10-mile GPS runs were posted by Dave Kalama (32:45 min) on a SUP Foil, followed by Kane DeWilde (37Min), Peter John (32 min) Windsurfing, and Jeffery Spencer (28 min) Wing Surfing over the weekend. We also had Patri McLaughlin and Jesse Richman sharing a 22 min run time on Kites.
Since 1976, Camp Imua has been a place where children ages 6-16 with a range of special needs or disabilities can enjoy a week of recreational experiences allowing them to be themselves in a supportive and inclusive environment free from judgment. Campers participate in activities that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience like surfing, kayaking, hiking, dance, zip-lining, climbing and much more!
The Global Challenge aspect generated whispers of excitement in communities around the world and this virtual event delivered in spades. To see top athlete’s in different divisions sharing in a common cause of inspiring children with special needs was incredibly powerful.
See the video highlights:
The next edition is already being planned for July of 2021.