Monday, August 16, 2010

paddling: ... hanalei, hanalei moon...

(actually, there was a moon over Hanalei while we were there, but... I never get picha!)

What I did get pictures of (mostly by stealing from team mates' Facebook photos) is our team:

Before the race
(rested and excited)


38 miles and 5 1/2 hours afterwards
(tired and excited)
(and maybe a little bit pleased with ourselves)

What race? Why, the Na Pali Challenge 2010. The race I've been thinking about for months, training for, anticipating. We finally did it. And it was good!

The race starts on Saturday morning in beautiful Hanalei Bay, and then cruises down the Na Pali coastline, around the southwest end of the island, and on to Kekaha Beach Park. 38 miles in all.

The women started first, with a beach start, where #1 (Kaimana) and #6 (Sabine) held the canoe in place while the other paddlers sat already in their seats. When the flag went up for the start, 1 and 6 hopped in, and 36 canoes all took off for the far point (west of the bay). What a sight! There is nothing like a boatload of canoes taking off all at once across a Hawaiian bay!

We men swam out to our escort boat and climbed aboard so that we could follow the women and be ready for the first change. Each team swaps all 6 paddlers every 30 minutes. Until you get within 2 miles of the finish, and if you aren't at a 30 minute switch point, the team in the canoe finishes up. (We tried hard to get there but the women ended up getting back into the canoe for the last 2 miles plus about 2 minutes... that's how close to the buoy we were!)

The first change is a bit crazy because all the canoes are still fairly close together and there's a lot of jockeying for place among the escort boats. You're not supposed to throw a lot of wake because that can mess up other canoes, but you do need to pull in front of your canoe so the 6 paddlers can hop out (in reverse order of seats, so 6, 5, 4...).

We did this, and crawled up into the canoe for our first leg. Wow! Butterflies. Nerves! I was paddling in a race in Hawaii!

The weather was mild, the wind light, with almost no swell. At least until the very end. And at that point the women were back in the canoe.

The short story here is that we had a blast, and finished 24th out of 36 canoes. In about 5 hours 30 minutes I think. And the winner finished in 4:40. But it wasn't about winning. It was the experience. And what experiences!

I'll write more later, but wanted to get an initial post up.

I haven't had a chance to do much with my photos yet, but here's one I took that is one of my favorites (so far). This is our wahine (women) paddling the last 2 miles of the race. This 2 miles was by far the most difficult, with big rolling swells coming in at them from the right (starboard bow in boating terms, but nobody every uses boating terms when talking about outrigger canoes for some reason). You can see them coming up over the crest of a roller. The #1 (Kaimana) is catching nothing but air with her paddle. And then the nose of the canoe comes down with a crash and sprays 1 and 2 with a bit of water! I've got another in this sequence that shows Sabine in 6 with almost none of her paddle in the water because the tail of the canoe is lifted so high up. That would be when the nose is getting buried.

Up and over a bump (swell)
(on the way to the finish)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you guys rock!!!!