It is usually the case that most racers from out of state begin arriving around the first of September for this largest OC-6 race in the world. Canadians from BC- Lotus crews and from the Island- have been here warming up and training for even longer.
In fact I was down on the pier- the site of the race and where everyone goes to ‘talk story’ and the buzz among the Hawaians was about a unique racing style that a Canadian team introduced them to at the Waikola race, last weekend. Seems it was a beach/Lemans start …everyone hop in and go, as they would say. One Hawaiian guy related, however,how the ‘Canadian’ team “…drag it steers guy fo’ ’bout quata mile..but they hang on, bro!!!” I explained that this is really a new Canadian technique where we use our legs to swim the boat along and, damn me, by Wednesday every local boat in Kailua Harbor was out there draggin’ steerspersons…just kidding. So we are off to if not an illustrious start at least an impactful presence.
A bit of history about the race… Queen Lili’uokalani was the last
reigning monarch in the Hawaiian Islands. During a period of
expeditionary US policy regarding Cuba and the Philippines it seemed
expedicious to also ‘protect’ Hawaii and in so doing, the Monarchy was
overthrown, the Queen imprisioned and ultimately Hawaii became a US
state. The World Court has been made interested in this matter, through
the efforts of indigenous Hawaiian people who feel
they frankly were ripped off. As result of this event the Queen who by the way wrote alot of traditional Hawaiian songs including Aloha Oe is much revered and the race in her honor.
It is hugely international with upwards of a hundred boats on the line at the start. It is point to point…from Kailua, Kona to Honaunau, 29 kilometers with irn and change diviisions and a million categories. The wahines race down coast in the AM and the men return the boats in the PM. Honaunau is a state park with a replication of an Hawaiian village on the site of the original City of Refuge, an Hawaiian ‘get-out-of-jail free’ arrangement they used to have. It is pretty amazing to see a lagoon full of boats in such a setting.
Once back to Kailua the racers unrig boats and get ready for the
torch light parade …Saturday night paddlers meet on the waterfront
drive, everyone gets a torch and off they march! We Canadians have been
practicing marching for several days, perfect formation, eh! Can’t get
torches yet but the guys fron Ocean River have got us broom sticks to
march around with… OK just kidding again about the practice stuff.
However I did talk with ‘uncle’ who makes the
torches and he said it is alot of work ‘”…’cause if you don’t tie them up right and tight, they swing ’em and off the fire goes…” You can bet there will be no Canadian swinging going on!!!
So signing off for now…of to Honolulu for a day and when I get back, mo’ update Bro!!!!
~ Jon A. – Calgary Canoe Club