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Skimming the Waves

Molokai residents get a taste of canoe sailing.

By Catherine Cluett

With a sail taut above their heads, wind rushing past them and salt spray on their faces, Molokai keiki got an experience that brought smiles and squeals of delight – a ride on a Hawaiian sailing canoe. The public event, held last Saturday at the Molokai Canoe Club by Kaunakakai Wharf, was sponsored by the Hawaii Sailing Canoe Association (HSCA). 

“We are doing this event as a ‘Mahalo Molokai’ for all the years of support that the HSCA has received from the Molokai community,” said Nakoa Prejean, Vice President of the HSCA. Keiki and adults alike took advantage of the opportunity.

The canoes were already on Molokai as part of the HSCA’s racing season. The fleet started on the Big Island in late April and will continue to race their way between islands until early October, according to Tom Boomer, former Vice President of the HSCA. He said the canoes are privately owned and racing crews gather from throughout Hawaii to participate in the island-hopping event.

Despite the sail adding speed to the voyage, Boomer said athletes paddle the whole time during a race, which can last as long as eight hours. Canoes under sail can average anywhere between 12 and 20 knots, or about to 14 to 23 miles per hour.

One of the event’s co-sponsors was Partners in Development Foundation, one of whose Molokai programs is Tutu and Me. Project Manager Chad Durkin said that in a partnership with University of Hawaii, Partners in Development is creating educational opportunities for kindergarten through 12th grade students based on Hawaiian culture. One of the program’s focuses is linking Hawaiian culture to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“The canoe is an ideal example of Hawaiian engineering,” said Durkin.

During the racing season, he explained, when the outriggers travel between islands, Partners in Development teams up with the HSCA to let kids experience sailing canoes.

It was Boomer who donated his sailing canoe to Partners in Development to help the project.

“We want kids to see how Hawaiians moved around the islands,” he said.

Along with Partners in Development Foundation, HSCA also partnered with organizations including Molokai Canoe Club, Hawaiian Catamaran and the Hawaii Tourism Authority to make the education event possible.

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