Aloha Racers and welcome to the 2013 Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge, hosted by New York Outrigger.
Each year paddlers from across the globe converge on New York City to take on one of the busiest urban harbors in the world. Since its inception 17 years ago, the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge has been the largest outrigger regatta on the East Coast and consistently attracts top teams from around the world.
The demands of the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge are unique among the world’s major outrigger regattas. To win, crews not only need to outperform other teams, but they must also successfully navigate the frenetic confusion of commercial, recreational and commuter boat traffic that fills the harbor. In addition to large ferries, barges and other boat traffic, the harbor experiences a confluence of different currents that can test even an experienced steersperson. Over the course of the race paddlers can expect to experience constantly changing conditions as they cross into different bodies of water.
Besides the challenging conditions not found anywhere else and the urban background of NYC, the biggest draw is passing by Lady Liberty. She is the single most popular reason why people want to be here to experience the regatta. This year the race will begin on the Hudson River in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood. From there crews will head south past the World Trade Center before rounding the Battery and heading up the East River. Once on the East River, crews will be challenged by some of the strongest currents of the course and steering skills will be crucial. After paddling under the East River’s historic Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, teams will cross the river and travel south through the narrow waters of Buttermilk Channel before rounding Governor’s Island. Following Governor’s Island, crews enter the busy waters of New York Harbor and must navigate extensive commercial and pleasure boat traffic while crossing to the Statue of Liberty. Once at the Statue, crews head north past Ellis Island and the New Jersey shoreline, before crossing back to Manhattan and heading south to the finish in Tribeca. Over the course of the race, teams will cover more than 15 miles of New York’s waterways and see many of the city’s most famous landmarks from a very unique perspective.
To experience the aloha spirit in the Big Apple is to understand why crews come back time and again to compete in this race. From the serenity of the early morning mixed race to the vibrant energy of the evening’s luau, the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge creates an exciting paddling experience and is an amazing way to tour New York City– no Metrocard required.
Ed Acker, Race Director