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Hunter and husband head to Hawaii

Wednesday April 18, 2018 Written by Published in Paddling
Conrad and Serena Hunter, pictured here at New Zealand’s Takapuna Beach Cup in February, departed Rarotonga yesterday to compete in the 63km PAA Kaiwi Channel Relay. Conrad and Serena Hunter, pictured here at New Zealand’s Takapuna Beach Cup in February, departed Rarotonga yesterday to compete in the 63km PAA Kaiwi Channel Relay.

Legendary paddler Serena Hunter and her husband Conrad departed Rarotonga yesterday for Hawaii, as they prepare to compete in the famous PAA Kaiwi Channel Relay event this Saturday.

There is usually a field of around 60 canoes lined up for the 63km relay race from Molokai to Oahu, and Serena said that depending on conditions the finish time can be anywhere from five to seven hours.

“We’ve been training together the last few month towards this, putting in quite a few kilometres on the water,” she said. “I talked Conrad late last year into doing the race together.”

“He’d just got back into paddling after around eight years off, so it has been a really big step up. I thought it would be a really great challenge to do together, and it’s been awesome training together towards this.”

Serena had previously competed in the solo event in 2015 and 2016, coming in sixth in 2015, with the added achievement of being the first Cook Islands woman to finish the gruelling challenge, then coming in fifth in 2016.

“Conrad supported me when I did the Molokai solo in 2015 and 2016, so it’s really awesome this time to both be racing together across the channel, and I’m so happy we’re doing it together,” she said.

“I think it will be a really awesome experience.”

The race is one of the largest sporting events for Hawaii, drawing participation from the United States mainland, New Zealand, Germany, Tahiti and many other countries from around the globe.

It is also considered one of the most treacherous spans of oceans in the world.

Serena, the number two distance paddler in the world, returns to Hawaii on the back of a fantastic 2017.

In September last year, she achieved the ‘paddlers dream’ of getting to race with Tahitian crew, Team Teva, at the Catalina Crossing, the biggest event on the US paddling calendar.

True to form, the fabulous crew took out the race with a time of four hours, three minutes and 31 seconds, just ahead of American rivals Dana.

“It really was a once in a lifetime opportunity, something that no one would turn down,” Hunter said last year.

“I am also lucky to have the support of my family – they were right behind me because they knew that it was something that was hugely important.

“I really couldn’t have done it without them.”