4 – Molo chronicles

October 7, 2004 · 0 comments

Briac - FCRCC

Likely a final posting, since we are off to Molokai in the morning, I'll try to recap the last couple days, and guess at what's in store for us in the days ahead.

We're going to have a favourable tide, and the wind is blowing mostly our way, but if it holds like this, many teams will likely bee-line towards Diamond head....still a little early to tell. The locals are thinking this may well be a record breaking year. If you have a look at the new links on ocpaddler.com, you will see there's a lot of stiff competition showing up this year.

Yesterday we had a bit of an easier practice as we entered the final
taper (of the year!)....and it looks like Steve (from
stevepalmier.com) has come into his own quite nicely as a helmsman
over the last 5 days. Today he caught a monster wave and surfed
right past our crew...he has definitely earned the trust of his
crew, and everyone is feeding off of this pleasant result. Being a
down day yesterday, we essentially stayed out of the sun and relaxed
all day (minus a very competitive cannonball competition in the
pool). We had an early dinner: spaghetti with a meat sauce, which
had 7.5lbs of meat, and 6 jars of classico....ridiculous. We gave
Scott the night off.

Paddling in Vancouver, it is easy to really relax the grip on your
paddle. Out here, in big water and heavy winds, you really have to
hang on, as it can quickly get whipped out of your hands. The good
thing is that the exceptionally salty water seems to improve the
grip on the paddle, but the downside is the extra salty water seems
to do a trick to your skin. Guys are applying remedies to places
they aren't used to....

Another thing that is very obvious here is how big outrigger as a
sport is. There are clubs everywhere, and you even see big brands
endorsing the sport. Yesterday, looking at the beer selection in
our local "Foodland", at least two brands had outriggers depicted in
some fashion...the bottles of bud have a picture of the islands with
little outriggers. You hear that the Molokai crossing is
the 'superbowl' of outrigging. Actually, this being the 53rd
crossing, the Superbowl is kind of the Molokai Crossing of
football....

Ok, back to reality: today we had our final training runs, and we
ran different combinations up and down the channel to finalize
crews. The boats are running quite well, and you can start to feel
the race around the corner. Speaking of crews, we ended up losing
an escort boat and a paddler, so we've have some last minute
scrambling to deal with....but it doesn't seem to be a major problem
at this point.
To celebrate this final practice of the year, we headed directly
after practice to Makapu, for some team body surfing. Very odd, as
I distinctly remembered that we had all agreed not to, as you run a
fairly good chance of injuring at least one person...but
anyways....everyone is feeling pretty good right now...

Tomorrow, we head out to one of the local airstrips, and we've
chartered a small plane, who will transport us and our gear to
Molokai in two shifts. Should be an amazing flight....with a good
arial view of the course. Once on Molokai, we are staying at the
Molokai Ranch, where our only responsibilities will be to remain
hydrated, loaded with food, and to rig and float the boats.

newsflash: we just at this instant secured a second escort boat...so
now we just need a paddler...no sweat...

Ok, this is going to be fun, and everyone is getting pumped...see
you all next week....and we'll look forward to hearing stories from
all the other clubs.

FCRCC crews

Ok, I realise that probably the most important posting would have
been the one immediately after the race, and that it is pretty late,
but here's an abbreviated rundown of how Sunday went down.

We woke up at 4am in complete darkness and made our way to our last
buffet meal of the trip, to carefully choose this ever critical
meal. After being fed and packed, we boarded busses down to Hale O
Lono harbour to the boats, where about 1000 paddlers were
congregating. Then commenced the task of finding escort boats, and
loading them with all our gear. Paddlers stood on the beach by their
hulls, watching others to see when they were putting in. Eventually
a max exodus began, and everyone was getting their warm up started.
The line up forms very quickly, and 15 minutes before the start, the
boats are essentially lined up...94 boats total. The starter holds
the orange flag up, and as we see his hand imperceptibly move closer
to grab the green flag, the race is already going...it is an all out
sprint, and there is some surf to grab.

For the remainder of the race, each has his own story, or
interpretation, so getting it first hand from someone is
recommended...

We headed along Molokai, and it seemed the top crews were already bee-
lining towards diamond head. Then, it is a matter of just dealing
with the ever changing conditions, and optomizing your boat run. All
in all it was an absolutely amazing race, with all the challenges you
would expect. We hulied early in the race, and eventually broke wide
open the 4 seat zipper....at times the boat would fill with water so
quickly it was frustrating, but then you would turn around and put
together two great 15 minute pieces where you would be passing
bushels of crews at a time. The last hour or so of the race is to
this day the most memorable bit of paddling I have ever been involved
in, as we took the inside line around diamond head through the reef
breaks...I have never been told to 'let it run' in the middle of a
race, only to see a large wave crash just ahead of the boat, and then
hear Paul say 'Ok, back on!' as though everything was normal
again...There were times sitting in the escort boat, when you would
see your boat disappear behind a set, and you would sit there
visualising the worse, only to see the boat lurch back into sight
seconds later...definitely got the heart pumping. Then, the sprint
to the finish on turquoise water...amazing.

Anyhow, a great race, plenty of lessons learned, and many areas to
improve, we will surely do better next time...and that's what it's
all about.

Ok, thanks for reading....!

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