Keeping Score

Cindy Luis

Sailing Alenuihaha
Channel an adventure

HARRY Fosdick had it right when writing: "One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world ... making the most of one's best."

Perhaps it wasn't my best, but last weekend was quite the adventure when participating in the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association season opener. Where most sports have their race series peak with the toughest event at the end, the HSCA -- for reasons both financial and practical -- starts from the bottom of the island chain.

This means that Race 1 sends sailing canoes from Keokea Bay on the Big Island to Hana, Maui. This means crossing the Alenuihaha Channel, listed among the Top 10 most dangerous channels in the world, a journey of some 33 miles, give or take a few tacks.

It also means walking that fine line between inspiration and insanity.

What ARE you thinking when deciding to run a marathon? Paddle the Molokai Channel? Or do any extreme sport?

My thoughts are simple. 1. Don't think. 2. Don't live life with the brakes on.

And just how serious can it be when the two main crew members are introduced as Boomer and Thumper?

But being allowed to sail in Tom Boomer's Waipualele last weekend was a privilege. It was also more than just a journey across water with new friends named Ronnie, Puna and Ray.

It was more than a race and finding that duct tape makes a great band-aid. It was learning to rig a sailing canoe and learning the historical significance of launching not far from where Kamehameha I was born and sailed his war canoes.

It was camping out under the stars, reading the legends written in the night sky and sharing stories of where we were and where we hoped to go.

It's a magical place, Keokea is. How many feet had walked before us, carrying canoes over boulders to reach the water and beat the surf out?

Six canoes sailed Saturday. It was more than just faith that steered us towards Maui; the summit of Haleakala beckoned from above a lei of clouds.

But where was Hana? Do you go high or go low, aim for Kipahulu and hope the winds agree?

Sailing a canoe is more than just sailing. It's about paddling and surfing, about climbing out on the tramp to keep the ama down and having patience.

After over five hours, it wasn't about winning. It was about finishing. But right after two humpback whales passed us, we swamped and had to be towed, just three miles south of Hana Bay.

Towing is not rare in these kinds of races and, as always, it makes for good stories to share. It also was good preparation for Sunday when, when after being socked in by rain, the entire fleet was towed out looking for a windline that wouldn't come up for nearly three hours.

Somewhere past Keanae, the towlines were dropped and we started to sail. There was another whale, too many waterfalls to count and good surf that had us flying to Kahului.

We finished over two hours later, some of the best 120 minutes of my life.

I've been asked if I'd do it again. Yesterday, when back paddling in an outrigger off Lanikai with Maui peeking through the gap between the Mokuluas, my only thought was, "Let's go."

Cindy Luis' column appears periodically.
E-mail Cindy at


E-mail to Sports Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --