5 – Better late than never

Ok, I realise that probably the most important posting would have been the one immediately after the race, and that it is pretty late, but here’s an abbreviated rundown of how Sunday went down.

We woke up at 4am in complete darkness and made our way to our last buffet meal of the trip, to carefully choose this ever critical meal. After being fed and packed, we boarded the bus down to Hale O Lono harbour to the boats, where about 1000 paddlers were congregating. Then commenced the task of finding escort boats, and loading them with all our gear. Paddlers stood on the beach by their hulls, watching others to see when they were putting in. Eventually a max exodus began, and everyone was getting their warm up started. The line up forms very quickly, and 15 minutes before the start, the boats are essentially lined up…94 boats total. The starter holds the orange flag up, and as we see his hand imperceptibly move closer to grab the green flag, the race is already going…it is an all out sprint, and there is some surf to grab.

For the remainder of the race, each has his own story, or interpretation, so getting it first hand from someone is recommended…

We headed along Molokai, and it seemed the top crews were already bee-lining towards diamond head. Then, it is a matter of just dealing with the ever changing conditions, and optimizing your boat run. All in all it was an absolutely amazing race, with all the challenges you would expect. We hulied early in the race, and eventually broke wide
open the 4 seat zipper….at times the boat would fill with water so quickly it was frustrating, but then you would turn around and put together two great 15 minute pieces where you would be passing bushels of crews at a time. The last hour or so of the race is to this day the most memorable bit of paddling I have ever been involved in, as we took the inside line around diamond head through the reef breaks…I have never been told to ‘let it run’ in the middle of a race, only to see a large wave crash just ahead of the boat, and then hear Paul say ‘Ok, back on!’ as though everything was normal again…There were times sitting in the escort boat, when you would see your boat disappear behind a set, and you would sit there visualizing the worse, only to see the boat lurch back into sight seconds later…definitely got the heart pumping. Then, the sprint
to the finish on turquoise water…amazing.

Anyhow, a great race, plenty of lessons learned, and many areas to improve, we will surely do better next time…and that’s what it’s all about.

Ok, thanks for reading….!
~ Briac – FCRCC

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