14 (or so) thoughts related to the Na Pali race:
- morning on Hanalei Bay is glorious.
I love morning anyway, and can't imagine a better way to start a canoe race.
1a) It helped that it wasn't raining or cold.
1b) It helped that I was with a great group of people.
1c) And it helped that I'd had a big bowl of oatmeal and a couple cups of coffee.
- outrigger canoe races always start late.
It's the "island time" syndrome I suppose. There are reasons. There are always reasons. The steerspersons' meeting finally took place around 7.40a, with the race scheduled to start at 8a.
2a) in spite of this, the race actually started very close to 8a!
- the start of this particular race is crazy and wonderful.
The women started this year and it was a "beach start," meaning that the canoes were in the water at the beach, with the #1 and #6 paddlers standing in the water, holding the boat steady while 2-5 were seated and waiting.
3a) multiply this by almost 40 canoes,
3b) with anchored sailboats and pleasure boats offshore and milling escort boats (1 per canoe) off to the sides. It's an amazing sight. Add an official boat with waving flags, yellow, red, GREEN! and then ....
- when an escort boat is late, it should not motor in toward the beach any where close to the scheduled race start.
Our escort boat was late and came up to the beach to pick up the men as 36 canoes of competitive women were poised to start. Bad move. He got yelled away by many different paddlers and eventually backed off until after the start, at which point he came back, we swam out to get on, and we chased after the canoes for the first change.
- the first change in a change out race is crazy because the canoes are bunched up.
There are crisscrossing wakes, multiple canoes to avoid, multiple escort boats to avoid, with everyone pushing rushing hurrying to get ahead.
But we managed to find our canoe and get in position and in spite of nervousness, we were in the water and then clambering into the canoe and then I was paddling a race in Hawaii!
5a) Here's to warm water and warm air and great team mates!
- the Na Pali coast is gorgeous.
6a) you don't get to see much of it while paddling.
- dolphins are cool to see, no matter what (we saw some after our first leg in the boat, while the women were paddling for their second piece).
- though it takes what seems like forever to get to Kalalau Valley when hiking, it's a quick jaunt down the coast by canoe, and there's a lot of coast beyond it.
- it's fun to catch and pass other canoes.
- it's fun to hear your team mates cheering for you when you're paddling
9a) and it's fun to cheer your team mates when you're in the escort boat
9b) it's also fun to cheer another canoe crew, especially when you're battling neck and neck (we were even with one Hanalei crew for a good part of the middle section and at one point gave their paddlers a cheer which seemed to first take them aback in their escort boat and then inspire them to give us a cheer in return - very cool aloha)
- when there's no water under the front of the canoe, you need to keep paddling as if there is, because everyone else behind you is keeping pace with your stroke rate and if you stop, they get confused.
- it's good to hydrate (water, coconut milk) when you're not paddling
12a) it's also good to eat (poi works well, unless it makes you want to throw up (usually a mainlander reaction), and then it works less well)
12b) after an hour or so of paddling interspersed with sitting on the escort boat hydrating, you are going to need to pee
12c) peeing is best done in the water, while waiting to get into the canoe or immediately after exiting the canoe, rather than when in the escort boat or the canoe (yells of "go!" do NOT mean it's ok to pee)
- it's hard to remember to pee when you're waiting for a canoe, treading water with paddle held high as more than 400 pounds of canoe and paddlers come bombing down at you over the lumpy seas.
13a) And then you have to paddle for 30 minutes still needing to pee.Men, waiting for the canoe
(about to start 4th leg*,
there may or may not be peeing taking place**)
*we did 5 30 minute legs and the women did 6
** see #12 above
- when changing out, it's polite to first take the incoming paddler's paddleMen, taking the incoming paddlers paddles
(women climbing aboard for their 3rd leg)14a) and it's also polite to take your paddle with you when you exit the canoe
- paddling #1 takes my breath away
- when there's a swell, it can be nervous-making to go close to the reef/beach!
- there's a mix of of relief and regret when you don't make it to the "no change" buoy 2 miles from the finish and have to swap out with the women one more time.
- the mixed feelings continue when you watch the women negotiate the roughest 2 miles of the entire race and negotiate it well.
- there's nothing but happiness and relief when the women pass the finish line (even if you aren't sure where it is)...No airhorn*, no indication of where, exactly, the finish line is!
(but they crossed it!)
*I heard later that the official boat had
run out of air for the horn. Local style!
... and cruise into the small harbor...Women, cruising into the harborand you follow and climb off the escort boat at the end of the race.
(not evident: how big the swells were nor
how close to closing out the channel looked)
- luau after paddling is "da best!"
20a) add beer, good beer, and it's even better than that!
- one beer goes to your head when you spend 6 hours alternately on a boat in the hot sun and in a canoe paddling hard in the hot sun.
21a) the dizziness might last until almost Princeville while you ride back in the van
- you gotta do your best to ignore rude people, especially rude locals (there are always a few jerks among a lot of wonderful folks, even during an event like this).
- there's nothing like paddling in Hawaii.