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Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, September 21, 2000

C A N O E _ P A D D L I N G

Special to the Star-Bulletin
Mother and daughter, Patty Eames, right, and Jessie Eames,
left, have shared some special moments on the same Kai Opua
crew. The crew will compete in the Na Wahine
O Ke Kai on Sunday.

Mother, daughter
combo thrives
on paddling

Patty and Jessie Eames
have developed a unique relationship
due to their outrigger canoe
experiences with the
Kai Opua club

By Jason Genegabus
Special to the Star-Bulletin

WHEN over 650 women gather on Molokai to start the 22nd annual Bank of Hawaii Na Wahine O Ke Kai this Sunday, Jessie Eames won't have to worry if her mom will be waiting at the finish line.

At some point, 51-year old Patty Eames is likely to join her daughter in the canoe during Kai Opua's bid to win the 41-mile race across the Molokai Channel.

"It's great that I get a chance to share all this with my daughter," the elder Eames said. "I know she's in the canoe and there's a special bond."


Bullet What: 41-mile women's outrigger canoe race from Molokai to Oahu.
Bullet When: Sunday. Crews leave Molokai at 7:30 a.m. and arrive on Oahu at around 1 p.m.
Bullet Where: Starting line is Hale O Lono Harbor in Molokai and the finish line is Duke Kahanamoku Beach in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki.
Bullet Who: Women's crews from all across the state, the mainland and various other countries.

Having her daughter in the canoe adds to the sense of family among the crew, according to Patty.

"Just paddling with the other women though, there is already a tight connection and sense of trust between all of us," she said.

For Jessie Eames, a 1999 graduate of Konawaena High, the past nine months have been a time of firsts. Although she's paddled since elementary school and competed internationally since 1998, this year will be the 19-year-old's first time in the one-man and long-distance races.

"It's a lot harder now, going distances and that kind of stuff," she said. "But I'm a lot happier paddling with my mom.

"It's good to know that she's going through what you're going through at the same time because we practice and race together."

All the time together has also brought its share of international recognition. On a trip to Australia this year, mother and daughter racked up a total of fifteen medals. Twelve of them were gold.

"She's learned a lot from being able to paddle with the other women," Patty said. "Jessie has really proven herself. She wants to win."

The two women will be joining the other eight members of Kai Opua in an effort to bring the championship trophy back to a Hawaii-based club for the second time in eight years.

If Jessie gets her way, the Kai Opua canoe will be arriving at the Hilton Hawaiian Village right around lunchtime. She hopes her crew will be one of the first to see a crowd of onlookers expected to be on the beach.

"I'd like it," Jessie said. "I really like it when there's a big crowd and everyone is cheering. You're just trying to finish and not pass out. It's a motivator."

Patty Eames is happy with her daughter's dedication and desire to succeed in the sport. She's even more impressed with the impact it has had on her daughter's maturity level.

"The higher caliber of women that we paddle with now are teaching Jessie a lot," Patty said. "She's heard me talk about some of the races and knows they're the big ones. Now that she has a few of those races under her belt she's really beginning to show improvement."

Which is a good thing for the younger Eames. While she was once on the verge of moving away from her Big Island home to the mainland, paddling now keeps Jessie firmly rooted in the islands.

"I don't think I'm going to leave Hawaii any time soon. I wanted to get away, but now I don't," she said. "I finally realized that paddling is becoming my life. It allows me to travel and meet all kinds of people."

Patty is happy to see her daughter continue her involvement in the outrigger paddling community. "If we didn't have paddling, there wouldn't be as much of an opportunity for us to spend time together," she said. "I've been through a lot of this now, and being with her makes these races have a lot more meaning."

Although the two readily admit they'd like to be the first to arrive on the beach at Waikiki, it's also clear Patty and Jessie enjoy the sense of camaraderie the race instills in the crews that participate in the race.

"There's a strong bond between all the women; a real feeling of closeness and family," Patty said. "More so than the competitive aspect; for the most part the women that come just want to do it."

"They view this as a big achievement just to participate in and finish the race," she said. "My hat is off to all the women."

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