New York, NY — As the largest outrigger regatta on the East Coast, Hawaiian Airlines is proud to once again sponsor the 19th annual Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge, hosted by New York Outrigger. The internationally-recognized outrigger canoe race and Pacific Island festival will bring nearly 400 athletes from around the globe to Hudson River Park’s Pier 26 on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The first 15-mile race begins at 7:30 a.m. while the festival will be open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

With athletes from Australia, Brazil, Hawaii, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and more, the 2015 Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge invites challengers to race outrigger canoes in a 15-mile course in the waters adjacent to the World Trade Center, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. The busy harbor will remain open to typical boat traffic, challenging each crew of six to navigate complicated currents, heavy commercial traffic and pleasure craft, and transforming the waterways into a dramatic urban stadium.

The outrigger canoe dates back thousands of years to Polynesia and the Pacific and was used as a mode of transportation between the islands. Identified by the outrigger stabilizer lashed to the side, the outrigger gives the canoe increased stability during the rigorous competition. This year’s race proudly recognizes inspiring athletes from around the world, such as the all-star team Kaua'i Wa'a, a young group of Hawaiian paddlers spending their first time in New York City racing their Hawaiian spec class canoe.

“As one of the world’s most prestigious outrigger races, we hope to elevate the global competition and share the sport of outrigger canoeing, part of our island culture, with New York City,” said Kevin Yim, senior director of global marketing communications for Hawaiian Airlines. “Together with Hawaiian Airlines’ nonstop service from JFK to Honolulu, we’re honored to bring the spirit of Hawaii to New York.” 

The 15-mile women’s competition begins at 7:30 a.m., the 15-mile men’s competition begins at 11:00 a.m., and the 11-mile mixed competition begins at 2:30 p.m.  All races start and finish at Hudson River Park’s Pier 26 and can be viewed from Manhattan, Brooklyn and Governors Island and the Jersey City and Hoboken waterfronts.

“New York’s waterways are our city’s sixth borough, providing commercial and recreational opportunities for all New Yorkers,” said Brent Beck, president of New York Outrigger.  “We are thrilled to again partner with Hawaiian Airlines on the Liberty Challenge, which celebrates our city’s revitalized waterfront and the global community of outrigger canoe paddling.”

Earlier this year, Hawaiian Airlines was also a second year sponsor of the Hawaiian Airlines Sydney Harbour Challenge, an international outrigger canoe race on Sydney Harbor hosted by the Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing Association (AOCRA). The team winners of the Open Men’s and Open Women’s Divisions in these respective races will win complimentary round-trip tickets on Hawaiian Airlines and an entry for their crew members to compete in Hawai‘i’s elite championship races this fall:the Hawaiian Airlines Moloka‘i Hoe or Hawaiian Airlines Nā Wahine O Ke Kai. Widely considered the world championships of the traditional Hawaiian sport of outrigger canoeing, these long distance races from Moloka‘i to O‘ahu—across the treacherous Ka‘iwi Channel—will take place on Sept. 27 and Oct. 11, 2015, respectively.

To immerse New Yorkers in the spirit of Aloha, a free Pacific Island festival featuring one-of-a-kind island-themed activities will include a wide variety of entertainment for people of all ages including a Family Tent with lei making and hula lessons. The festival will be open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guests are welcomed by international music and dance on the Hawaiian Airlines stage as well as popular local food truck vendors such as East Coast Poke, DUB Pies, Brooklyn Organic Coffee and Tea, and Uncle Gussy's. 

For more information about the 2015 Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge, hosted by New York Outrigger, please visit www.libertychallenge.org


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About the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge:

The Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge hosted by New York Outrigger is the largest outrigger regatta on the East Coast. Since 1997, the Liberty Challenge has grown to become one of the most prestigious outrigger canoe races in the world, and is unique among world outrigger regattas as it takes place in a bustling urban harbor. Each summer crews from across the country, Europe and the Pacific travel to New York City to compete in its waters. Crews not only have to gauge the strong tidal currents with their dramatic and sudden shifts, but they must also negotiate the vast number of ferries, cruise ships, tour boats, barges, tankers and pleasure craft that fill New York Harbor, the East River and the Hudson River. Men, women, and co-ed crews race along a course that includes landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and Ellis Island. The regatta is comprised of three races run in heats over the course of the day. The men’s and women’s races cover a 15 mile course, while the mixed race has a truncated course of 11 miles.

About Hawaiian Airlines:

Hawaiian® has led all U.S. carriers in on-time performance for each of the past 11 years (2004-2014) as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Consumer surveys by Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Zagat have all ranked Hawaiian the highest of all domestic airlines serving Hawai‘i.Now in its 86th year of continuous service, Hawaiian is Hawai‘i’s biggest and longest-serving airline, as well as the largest provider of passenger air service from its primary visitor markets on the U.S. Mainland. Hawaiian offers non-stop service to Hawai‘i from more U.S. gateway cities (11) than any other airline, along with service from Japan, South Korea, China, Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa and Tahiti. Hawaiian also provides approximately 160 jet flights daily between the Hawaiian Islands, with a total of more than 200 daily flights system-wide. Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. is a subsidiary of Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: HA). Additional information is available at HawaiianAirlines.com.

About New York Outrigger:

New York Outrigger is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to perpetuating the sport of outrigger canoe paddling. Established in 1996, NYO has afforded thousands of New Yorkers the unique opportunity to experience their city from its waterways. Our all-volunteer organization is comprise of a diverse group of paddlers committed to helping New Yorkers develop the skills required to be safe and responsible members of New York City’s waterfront community .Located in Hudson River Park in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, NYO provides outreach programs and competitive team training for various skill levels. Through our Novice sessions, Nonprofit Partnerships and Special Events, NYO members have the opportunity to interact with a diverse cross-section of the city. Additionally, our training programs for members cover the spectrum from recreational paddlers to elite racing crews.

About Hudson River Park:

Hudson River Park, which extends from Chambers Street to 59th street along Manhattan’s west side, is the longest waterfront park in the United States. This free, urban recreational oasis is home to award-winning skate parks, playgrounds, sports fields, gardens and nature exhibits, boating and maritime activities, art installations, and myriad year-round events that celebrate the diverse cultures and neighborhoods along its shores. The Park plays a critical role in protecting the Hudson River ecosystem, and though it receives no public operating funds from city, state or federal government, its development has transformed four miles of decaying piers and parking lots into a premier New York City destination for local residents and visitors alike. The non-profit, Friends of Hudson River Park helps to ensure ongoing sustainability by serving as the Park’s primary source of fundraising, advocacy and support, working in concert with the Hudson River Park Trust, the city-state entity that oversees the design, construction and operation of the Park. For more information, please visit www.hudsonriverpark.org.  Follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @HudsonRiverPark, and LIKE us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/HudsonRiverPark.