Last year when I did an interview with Hawaii Public Radio about the race, I was asked, “How did you get involved with paddling?” I was not prepared for the question but it was the first time I had to think about that question. “I didn’t really have a choice,” I answered.
My grandparents were coaches for Kihei Canoe Club from 1970s through 1990s, my mom started paddling before she knew her time tables and I was just born in to it. There has never been a question about what we were doing during summer. I started paddling with Hawaiian Canoe Club at 10 years and every summer until I went to college on the mainland. After college, I was living in California and started paddling for Oceanside Outrigger and Newport Aquatic Center. I found a whole new paddling family on the mainland and fell in love with the sport all over again. In 2012, I was contemplating moving home to Maui and decided to put together a crew for the Pailolo Challenge. It was made of up paddlers from Hawai’i, California, and Australia. We needed a canoe, an escort, hotel room, car, return to Maui – the works. Of course, my Maui family came through and helped me with a lot. As soon as we landed, we went straight to HCC hale to load canoes and kokua my home club, tow canoes to Flemings and help my mom and then current race coordinator, Kaimana Brummel, with registration at Maui Brewing Co. The race was “the funnest” and I was hooked. Not even 6 months after the race I moved home and less than 6 months after that I was on the Pailolo Challenge Race Committee. The rest is history… When I first came for the Pailolo Challenge, I expected my family and home club to come through to help with accommodations and logistics. Of course the help was going to be different from any other race I had competed in. But then I realized it wasn’t just because I knew the right people, they did this for everyone! The Race Committee is dedicated to making the race fun and accommodating for racers. Just as I was treated as family, we hope that all crews and participants feel the same way. We do live in Hawai’i. You need something, you call your aunty’s friend’s uncle’s dentist’s cousin, and you get what you’re looking for. That “easy.”
Much like every paddler knows, this is not just a sport or a hobby. We are Board Member, coaches, volunteers, fund raisers, competitors, confidants, friends, a team, and even greater, a family. It is a lifestyle. We don’t really go on “vacations,” we visit other places when there are races happening. We budget our annual expenses to pay for entry fees and flights, maybe a new paddle or OC1. Our drawers are filled with colorful tights and jerseys, not to mention the unreasonable amount of trucker hats. It only makes sense that the people we paddle with are still the people we surround ourselves with away from practice and travel with to an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. As I found through coordinating this race, my paddling ‘ohana now extends over the entire globe. Mine; yours. Thank you for participating in the Pailolo Challenge this year. If you are a returning participant, I am pleased you decided to join us again. If this is your first crossing, please enjoy yourself and have fun!!!