Do you know what signals the start of each race of the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge? That would be the Staten Island Ferry! The Ferry stops for no one so we have a spotter at Whitehall Terminal over a mile away that radios to us as soon as the Staten Island-bound ferry moves away from its slip. That, in turn, is our signal to start the race.
Once the race starts, crews will need to weave past NY Waterway and NY Water Taxi ferries as they pass the World Financial Center Terminal, cross through the line of sailboats that shoot out of North Cove Marina and dodge the ferries to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty before reaching Whitehall Terminal. Crews must reach Whitehall Terminal within 20 minutes or be stopped by the safety boat as that is the time the Manhattan-bound Staten Island Ferry is due to dock.
This first section of the race is considered the most difficult as all the canoes are still packed tightly together while entering into a section of some of the busiest ferry traffic in the world.
Urban scenarios like this make the Liberty Challenge an outrigger race that truly cannot be experienced anywhere else.
The Challenge Series is written by New York Outrigger Head Coach Keith Tsang. His insights are drawn from over ten years of paddling and steering the New York and New Jersey waterways.