40th Wahine Channel Crossing
Their hands joined together, hundreds of women from around the world racing in the 40th annual Na Wahine O Ke Kai took collective breaths during the pule at Hale O Lono before the start of the grueling channel crossing. A deep history of wahine have crossed before them.
In 1954, two years after the men’s channel race began, a women’s crew proposed to make the crossing but coaches and officials believed the Ka’iwi Channel to be too dangerous for women to handle. It was more than 20 years before two crews of women made the first unofficial crossing in 1975. On Oct. 15, 1979, the first women’s Molokai to Oahu canoe race took place. Since then, thousands of women from around the world have come to carry on the legacy.
Though Molokai didn’t have its own team this year, women currently or originally from Molokai placed in the top three finishing teams. Kealani Kimball Bartlett, paddling with Team Bradley, won the race with a time of 5:48:28; Hoku Keala with Outrigger Canoe Club came in second; and Teave Heen, paddling with Team Maui Jim, placed third. Other Molokai paddlers also joined other teams in the race.