Monday, 11 April 2011

History of the Molokai

The 15th Annual Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard World Championships takes place in Hawaii on 31 July 2011. The 32 mile channel crossing begins on the shores of Molokai and finishes on the island of Oahu, taking paddlers across a body of water that has claimed the lives of many, from ancient canoe fleets to fisherman and watermen. Paddling has been a part of Hawaiian heritage since early Polynesians traversed over 2,500 miles of open ocean, navigating by way of waves, wind and stars. Double-hulled sailing canoes covered the long distances and, with the introduction of surfing in the late 18thcentury, paddle boarding also became a means of local ocean transport. The Molokai Channel is therefore steeped in history. The tragic loss of Hawaiian big-wave rider and Renaissance man Eddie Aikau in the Molokai Channel during the 1978 Polynesian voyage of the Hokule’asailing canoe only added to the mystique and revered power of the channel. After gale-force winds and 30-foot swells disabled the Hokule’a, Aikau headed for land on his rescue paddleboard to seek help for his stranded crew mates. His body and his board were never found. Eddies memory is embedded in Hawaiian culture – in surfing culture – and is celebrated through an annual big wave invitational surfing challenge at Waimea Bay in Hawaii. Like the Molokai race itself, it is an event a celebration, that honours the life of the waterman.

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