Water Ways

By Ray Pendleton

Saturday, October 13, 2001

SeaFest event helps
local sailing

In just two weeks, Hawaii's boating community will have the opportunity to support the very future of the recreational lifestyle they so enjoy.

On Saturday, October 27, the Hawaii Sailing Foundation will be holding its annual SeaFest fundraiser for Junior Sailing.

This year the SeaFest will be held at the Waikiki Yacht Club -- at the Diamond Head end of Ala Moana Park -- and it will be open to the public.

The event begins at noon with a silent auction, followed at 2 p.m. by a live auction. Items up for bid will range from nautical art and marine electronics to boat hardware and used boats.

There will also be Ala Wai harbor cruises available aboard the club's 20-passenger shuttle boat and a spaghetti buffet from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

All proceeds from the SeaFest go to the HSF which assists Junior Sailors on Oahu to attend clinics and competitive events on the mainland.

To see how the Junior Sailing program can support the future of sailing, one has to look no further than to 22-year-old Punahou graduate Kaya Haig.

Haig was invited to compete in the recent Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championship (RIWKC) in Annapolis, Md., one of the most prestigious regattas for women in the world.

But the road that led to that invitation began with the Junior Sailing program on Oahu and at the Waikiki Yacht Club in particular.

"(I started sailing when) I was eight," Haig said in a West Marine interview. "My mom lied about my age to get me into WYC's junior program."

"My mom pushed the actual initial involvement," she continued, "but (WYC sailing coach) Guy Fleming really fostered it. His teaching methods were perfect for a hesitant young girl trying to balance a social life and sailing."

As to her making the transition from learning to sail to entering into competitive sailing, Haig was quite candid.

"I'm pretty sure I tried to stay out of racing for as long as possible," she said. "I was one of those scared who made up injuries so I wouldn't have to sail."

Nevertheless, Haig admitted, because there were so many regattas to avoid, after a year or so, she finally gave up the resistance and got involved in racing.

"Guy taught me that if I put heart and practice into the training beforehand, it didn't matter how I did in the actual regatta," she said. "I didn't really do well until I started sailing Lasers in high school, though."

From high school, Haig matriculated to Boston University and continued her sailing career. Three times in the following four years she was named to the InterCollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) All-America sailing team.

And because she led the BU sailing team to an A-Division third place at the 2001 ICSA North American Women's Dingy Championship, Haig was awarded a special invitation to the RIWKC last month.

Against 61 teams of the world's most talented women sailors, Haig and her crew came in a remarkable 13th.

I'm sure Haig would admit Hawaii's Junior Sailing program -- and the donations that have kept it going -- were big factors in her sailing development.

I hope I'll see everyone at the SeaFest on October 27.

Ray Pendleton is a free-lance writer based in Honolulu.
His column runs Saturdays in the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at

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