Pacific Paddler August 2013 - (Page 26)
Counting down to....
A paddler's (seat 2) journey
Photo by Susan Bland Anderson
At five a.m. my alarm clock goes off every day, Sunday included. The
coffee maker started fifteen minutes ago. I take my first sip and move to
my computer table where I log in. I hit the favorites button, scroll down to
my current favorites favorite and double click... OLAMAU. Twenty days,
fourteen hours, seven minutes and counting down till the flag drops. I
am certain paddlers around the globe are doing this same ritual, getting
psyched for Olamau.
I am a 54 year old, third year paddler from central California. I call Kona
my permanent digs. Paddling is a way of life here. It is easy to saturate
yourself with wind-runs, regattas, M2Ms (Maui to Molokai) and 'Molo' cross-
ings. When I heard Olamau was coming to the big island, there was no way I
was going to miss it.
Olamau was everything I expected. There were big names, incredible
unlimited canoes, fit athletes, & big sponsors like Red Bull, Patagonia, and
Mother Nature. She threw out some weather that would test the fittest of
the fit. For three days and four legs, the Pacific Ocean gave us Laupahoehoe
perfection on the first day followed by Keokea swells and stiff side-winds on
the second day. The jousting between the Tahitians as well as the Hawaiian
crews was amazing to watch. Mainland crews as well as the orient's Sea
Shepards all put together impressive efforts. The third day was split into two
18 mile runs with one change between them. Eighteen miles seemed almost
sprint-like after zigzagging quartering swells for forty miles just two days ago.
The finish in Kailua-Kona was welcome, but at the same time I was tell-
ing myself, “I can’t believe this is over after months of anticipation. I am not
ready to come down off this paddling high yet." One last awards party, one
last ama flying contest, a couple final green beers, and trade some email
addresses and shirts with new friends.
Olamau taught me some important lessons: Train for forty miles when you
are racing thirty. Get the nutrition part dialed in; Branched chain amino acids,
trace minerals, protein, gu, gells, poi, whatever your body needs to function
need to be taken before it’s too late to recover. After thinking I had it down,
I still cramped after about twenty five miles on the first day. I also learned
the importance of a float test before getting in a new boat. With all the boat
builders stretched to the gills to finish their 'unlimiteds', a complete sea trial
rigging session was out of the question for our crew. O.K., now I am getting a
With the starting flag getting close to dropping and all the boats lin-
ing up, trying to stay behind the line with both the wind and swell behind us
was a task. I kept telling myself, "Just have fun, that’s all you can do at this
point." The flag dropped and all the anxiety disappeared. With these picture
perfect conditions, how could I not be smiling ear to ear?
Two weeks later, I am still bumping into people that watched the race
or participated. They all want to talk Olamau. The race is etched in my
mind. My paddling life has been enlightened, forever changed by one race. Is
it worth the fundraisers? I know there are a lot of cars out there that need
Five a.m., my alarm clock goes off, I turn my computer on, go to favor-
ites, dare I double click on Olamau? There is that countdown clock. It has
been reset. Three hundred forty days, nine hours, fifty minutes until Olamau
2014. I am there. I hope to see you too.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pacific Paddler August 2013
HCRA champs at Hanalei in the past 2007, 2001
Walter Macfarlane Regatta
Waikiki Beach Boys Invitational
Tahiti Nui Va’a
Olamau and counting
Outrigger & Hui Nalu beginnings
Paddle 'No-mans Land'?
Mālama Hawai‘i is the first leg
Na Wahine O Ke Kai 2013
Pacific Paddler August 2013