Eco Challenge Fiji and KIALOA
In September of 2019, 66 teams of adventure racers from 30 countries landed in Fiji, a group of volcanic islands in the South Pacific known as both paradise and treacherous jungle, to compete in the world’s toughest race, which has become one of television’s most captivating programs: Eco Challenge. For 11 days and 671 kilometers, teams navigated a grueling course through mountains, rivers, jungles, ocean, and swamp both in daylight—under an intensely burning sun—and in the thick humid blackness of night. They strived to reach 31 checkpoints
and locate hidden medallions along the route, each team using their wits and their physical strength in the effort to outpace the others.
The essentials the racers brought for this epic experience were both seen and unseen: Respect for the force of nature. Hunger for extreme adventure. Tolerance for pain. Teammates they could rely on. Gear they could trust. We are proud that several teams on Eco Challenge Fiji chose KIALOA paddles to propel their race through the formidable rivers and surrounding ocean.
"We knew nothing… Meg at KIALOA was super responsiveand a huge help in guiding us through equipment options that would best fit our skill level and needs.”
-Hal Riley / Captain
One such American team was Team Unbroken, comprised of two injured army combat veterans and two civilians who together represented—and inspired—others who face serious personal battles and yet forge ahead with their ambitions. We at KIALOA enjoyed providing not only guidance in selecting paddles, but also practical preparation tips to this unique courageous team that had no outrigger paddling experience.
The captain of Team Unbroken, Hal Riley, identifies the hardest element of Eco Challenge Fiji as being the 12 hours of paddling a sailboat (60 kilometers) with no wind. Paddles took a beating on this intense race that involved navigating near coral and being stowed for travel alongside mountain bikes. Yet Hal describes the paddles as emerging from the race looking remarkably brand new.
Moreover, he developed an attachment to his KIALOA steering paddle, even a respect for this solid, reliable tool that had guided and propelled his team.
Team Unbroken may not have won, but winning is only one of many possible objectives in a race of this magnitude, which challenges you not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. Hal and his teammates will always bear the pride of having looked out for each other—a value more meaningful to them than simply competing—and despite various unrelenting challenges, having persevered, unbroken.
The creator of Eco Challenge, Mark Burnett, claims that in the remote wilds of nature you will truly learn who you are. We agree. As the oldest standing outrigger brand, KIALOA established long ago who we are—a company loyal to fellow lovers of water and bonded by our belief in po’okela, excellence; laulima, teamwork; and malama, stewardship. These values are embedded in our work, and we believe you will sense them when you grip our paddles, whether on a quiet lake near your home or on the world’s toughest adventure race.
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