A Treacherous Start For Wahine

Yes, it’s fall, and football is king. But after the end-of-game shenanigans that gave the Seahawks a Monday Night Football win over the Packers with probably the most egregious officiating mistake imaginable, I think the healthiest solution is to step away from the gridiron this week.

So, let us focus our attention instead on the calm and serene open water. At least, the typically calm and serene open water. The 34th annual Na Wahine O Ke Kai paddling race took place Sept. 23, sending wahine on a half-day, 42-mile voyage from Molokai to Oahu. A similarly timed North Shore swell, which also crowded Kilauea, Hanalei and Haena’s most popular waves, made things a bit more treacherous than usual.

The Molokai Dispatch reported that 10 canoes were caught by breaking waves as they attempted to enter the water, one of them damaged enough that it was unable to race. The other nine eventually made it past the breakers, but had to expend plenty of energy competing with Mother Nature prior to competing with the other paddlers. It also stated that one Kailua paddler had to be treated at the hospital for shoulder and rib injuries sustained from the crashing waves.

However, none of those obstacles prevented four Kaua‘i teams from successfully starting or finishing the race, though Makuahine O Puuwai was reportedly one of the groups battling early just to reach the starting line. If you take a look at the accompanying photos, courtesy of Brian Curll, you’ll have a better understanding of what they were up against.

At the end of the day, 69 teams reached Duke Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki, having (thankfully) launched from Hale O Lono Harbor on Molokai. With three divisions offered — Open, Masters 40 and Sr. Masters 50 — Na Wahine O Ke Kai is one of the most prestigious events won the Masters 40 division and came in fourth place overall (6:35:25), while the Masters 50 division was won by the Team Aussie Aunties, who came all the way from Down Under and impressively finished in eighth place overall (6:54:39).

The men will have their crack at the Kaiwi Channel this weekend with the world-renowned Molokai Hoe race Oct. 7. We’ll see what Mother Nature has in store for them.

For more on the women’s race, see Amanda Gregg’s Kaua‘i Kine column on Page 4. She was paddling for Niumalu and has some more amazing photos — not to mention an array of colorful bruises.