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Sailing Canoe

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  1. Team OluKai wins 2015 'Na Holo Kai' Oahu to Kauai Sailing Canoe Race

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    The 28th annual 90 mile Na Holo Kai Sailing Canoe race was held this past Saturday, August 15th and was the seventh leg of the 2015 Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Sailing series. Wind and water conditions proved to be the best of the 2015 season. The race began in light off shore breeze but was not enough to sail so the fleet of canoes had to sprint the 5-mile course to Kaena point. Paddle Me Sports headed in a northerly course and into an early lead followed by Maui Jim, Team Olukai, Aloha Brewery, and White Orchid weddings. They spread out over a couple of miles and jockeyed for position and the best sailing course. It took over 3 hours for the lead to change. The Maui Jim canoe captained by Kauai's Donny Jones snuck into a slight lead over Team Olukai, Kala'I Miller's Aloha Brewery, and Paddle Me Sport. After battling with Team Maui Jim for about two hours, Team Olukai, made up of Marvin Otsuji, Jason Dameron, Chris Pico, Maui Kjeldsen, Kalani Vierra, and Tyrus Sale, methodically dropped down to a more southerly course and took the lead.

    "We were getting 400 yard bombs, we were connecting the waves together and at one point Kalani was hooting and hollering, yelling 'there's another mile'," explains captain Marvin Otsuji about their lead takeover.

    After switching course about 30 miles off of Kaua'i, Team Olukai took and held the lead all the way to the beach. They had the best strategical position to cover all of the other canoes, Team WOW captained by Ray Glauser dropped to a straight rhumb line course even more southerly than Team Olukai and they were able to sneak in right behind Team Olukai.

    The race was inspired by the 1987 "Year of the Hawaiian". Five crews set out at 3 am to conquer the Kauai channel, Steve Baker, Mike Kincaid and Marvin Otsuji were three of the original sailor. The Na Holo Kai has become the super bowl of canoe sailing and requires a certain type of crew member to consider it fun to cross a 90 mile channel and spend 7 to 10 hours paddling.

    With only one race to go , the over all series lead is still held by Team Olukai . This is the teams 19th year in a row to be on top of the Hawaiian Sailing canoes sailing series.

  2. Navigating Baja: Bringing Hawaiian Sailing to Mexico – Dispatch #3

    Article provided by National Geographic

    In the dry cactus filled landscape of northern Baja, the hum of a diesel truck echoes as it begins to tow a carefully packed load into the desert sun. This trailer in tow has made it here all the way from the Hawaiian island of Kauai via Santa Cruz, California. Just before we leave every person scrambles throughout the compound residence for their last minute gear—sunglasses, hats, radios—no one is sure what he or she will need for the day's activity. As we pile into the assortment of vehicles, those who don't welcome the possibility of getting stuck quickly make a dash for the truck with four-wheel drive. Finally the caravan is underway as we make the ten-minute trek through two arrojos and power through the last hundred feet of unpacked sand to reach our destination at the edge of the Vermilion Sea, also known as the Sea of Cortez.

    Many hands make light work as we begin to remove the mass configuration of straps and padding that have hopefully protected our package over its long commute. As each piece gets unloaded and laid out onto the sand, we count our luck as nothing appears to be significantly damaged. Each part of the puzzle has a name and after translation it becomes obvious that what we are about to assemble has a correlation to the human form. The kino, "body," is the main hull where all of the paddlers will sit. The kino has a manu ehu, "nose," and a manu hope, "stern." The word manu is the Hawaiian word for "bird," which gives the clue that this watercraft was designed to fly with the wind.

    Native Hawaiian Matt Muirhead paddles with Austin Kino in the Holopuni canoe; Photograph by Max Lowe

    Traditional lashing techniques are replaced with speedy ratcheting straps to connect our 'iako, or "outrigger booms," and ama, "outrigger," to the main hull for stability. After securing the trampolines where our counterbalancing guests will sit, it is time for the most sensitive stage of assembly. The wind is surveyed to decide where to face the nose of our canoe, only then is it safe to unwrap the pe'a, "sail," that will be our engine out on the water. One last radio check as extra paddles, water, and the first round of sailors are loaded into the sailing canoe Holopuni, named after the Little Dipper constellation that rotates circumpolar in Hawaii's sky.On this first afternoon of sailing, we are blessed with a light 10- to 15-mile-an-hour offshore wind just enough to practice the basics of steering and tacking this traditional rig. In Baja, the wind moves in a reverse fashion to what I am used to in Hawaii. The air over the ocean is warmer than the air over the land causing a difference in pressure. As the high pressure over the land shifts toward the low pressure over the ocean, the movement of that air creates offshore wind. This cycle results in extremely turbulent winds just before sunrise, but as we would soon find out the following morning the wind is not the only force of nature to be encountered at dawn.

    Sailing the Holopuni off the coast of Los Barilles, Mexico; Photograph by Max Lowe

    Standing on the cold sand after a night's rest the crew readies their warm gear for an early morning sail. In the middle of the sail plan briefing, the conversation halts to a silence as a tremendous exhale breaks the surface of the ocean. Everyone whips his or her head around to see the unmistakable mist left from multiple whale blowholes only 50 feet from the shoreline. In a panicked frenzy we race to get the canoe in the water before the humpback whales leave our sight. Making a beeline to the last known location we find only the remnant of a slick on the surface signifying the close proximity to the creatures below. Like a game of cat and mouse, our crew continues to spot several pods of whales all around us and as we try to close the gap several times, we are limited by the winds direction and our possible points of sail.

    Austin Kino teaches the art of celestial navigation from the side of the bonfire; Photograph by Max Lowe

    Upon returning to shore we celebrate the morning with huevos rancheros and trade stories with the local kite surfers who are intrigued by this new expression of wind-powered fun. I explain to them that this sailing canoe is unique to Hawaii and people have been sailing them for many generations. In Captain Cook's journal, he wrote that upon entering Kealakekua Bay in 1778, he and his crew watched as over one thousand sailing canoes filled the ocean around them. Our time spent sailing in Baja is a testament that Polynesian seafaring technology continues to grow in new corners of the world. If there is one lesson, it is that the ocean is not something that separates us, but it is the bridge that connects us all.

    To follow along the journey please visit http://adventureblog.nationalgeographic.com/blog/the-adventurists/

  3. Navigating the Sea of Cortez

    89346_600x450-cb1426517794The Adventurists Max Lowe and his new friends are taking the road less traveled on a ten-day adventure along the Sea of Cortez in Baja California, Mexico.

    Follow the coast north from Cabo San Lucas along winding roads past taco stands, whale bones, and lazy brahman cattle, and you'll find yourself in the little town of Los Barilles, Mexico. Driving down streets rimmed by bright orange, blue, and red adobe-walled houses under the afternoon sun after an unexpected travel delay, I was late to convene with my fellow adventure companions, a group I had largely never met.

    Hayden Peters and his girlfriend, Catherine Yrisarri, picked me up from the sunbaked curb of the airport amidst a dense crowd of spring breakers headed for the tequila shooters and luxury resorts of Cabo. Our Baja experience was to be a different sort, one you can't buy in a vacation package. For ten days we would sail the coast of the Sea of Cortez via a traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe, explore Baja's desert highlands, and dive beneath the waves in pursuit of a very atypical spring break trip, one along the road less travelled.

    Hayden and Catherine described our host, Chris Mathias, as something of prophet in the ways of a life well lived. A man of many pursuits and passions, Chris had come south as a 20 year old and fell in love with the striking beauty of the Baja Peninsula. The balance of the dry landscape of the desert thrown in stark against the abounding life of the Sea of Cortez provided a canvas for an existence rich in wild beauty and the amenities to fit most any need.

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    As we rolled up the final dirt road and through the gate into Chris's compound—which comprised of perma-parked Airstreams and palm frond-roofed palapas—we were met by the rest what would be our little family for the next ten days. Austin Kino, a native Hawaiian and man of the sea, had come to teach us the ways of celestial navigation and holupuni, the traditional Hawaiian style of sail canoe. We were also met by my friend Mary, a geographer and writer from Utah, as well as Chris's two friends Lobo and Machu, who would join us in our sail canoeing and desert wanderings.

    I could see that this little compound was an oasis of immaculate design. Over many years and with the help of friends and local Mexican craftsmen, Chris had brought to life his dream home in the natural landscape around us. All open air and shrouded by towering cactus, palms, and other local flora, this amazing spot was to be the home base for our adventure.

    Chris walked up and greeted me with a hug and a smile. Austin and Mary had just returned from an afternoon stand-up paddling session off the beach, which was just a five-minute bike ride down the dusty dirt road. As I went around the circle of new faces introducing myself, I could immediately tell that this group of people would make our experience amazing.

    As as the sun sank slowly toward the rust red hills, we headed down to the beach for tacos with our toes in the sand, while a lusty full moon rose out of the horizon and brought on our first night in Baja.

    THE TEAM

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    Max Lowe's adventures are rooted in photography and storytelling. A National Geographic Young Explorer Grantee and Bozeman native who grew up in a family rooted in the outdoor industry, Max dabbles in most outdoor adventure sports. Recent excursions have taken him from skiing Denali to surfing Sumatra. In 2014, two of his short films were screened at Mountainfilm in Telluride. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic Adventure. See his last series for The Adventurists, Montana by Dirt.

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    Austin Kino, a Hawaii native and waterman, is an apprentice navigator on the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage, a 47,000-nautical-mile adventure to circumnavigate the Earth in two traditional Polynesian sailing canoes by 2017. Austin grew up in the Wailupe Valley on Oahu, where his family passed on their love for the ocean. He is also a konohiki, or caretaker, for OluKai.

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    Hayden Peters films television, documentary films, and commercials for National Geographic, PBS, and top advertising agencies and brands. He blends a strong technical ability with an artistic eye and personal nature to capture any story in a beautiful and engaging way—whether it's happening underwater, halfway around the world, or in his own backyard. Learn Hayden's own story in the short film The Coast.

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    Catherine Yrisarri's love of stories, people, and far-off places has lead her to over 50 countries across the globe exploring everything from faith across the world to polygamy, Inupiat whaling, State Department politics, the origins of gang violence and children's visions of the future around the world. She's brought stories to life for clients like National Geographic Channel's Inside series, National Geographic Creative, New York Times T-Brand Studio, Discovery Channel, PBS, OWN, and independent, award-winning filmmakers.

    The Adventurists blog series "Navigating Baja del Sur" is sponsored by OluKai, which provided footwear for this adventure.

  4. Team OluKai Wins Ka'iwi Challenge

    It was a great start to the weekend with light winds for the 51 mile sailing canoe race from Kaanakakai, Molokai to Kailua, O’ahu on Saturday. Marvin and Team OluKai (Marvin Otsuji, Joe Sawyer, Butch Keahiolao, Scott Wagner, Keone Miyake and Kalani Vierra) took a 6 seat plane from Kauai to Molokai, rigged the canoe and towed into the Kaiwi channel to start the race at 2:00pm. From start to finish, Team OluKai was able to hold the lead and finish off Saturday with a victory. It did not come easily with the Maui Jim canoe Tui Tonga challenging the team. After a half hour dual, Team OluKai broke away and gained sailing a minute ahead of the next competitor.

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    On day two, OluKai switched out a couple team members, adding Lauren Spaulding, and Keone and Mahea Botello. The race proved to be just the opposite of day one. The teams raced off the beach with team Hui Nalo and Kamakakoa jumping out to the lead. After rounding Moko Manu Island, Team OluKai began to surf their way into the lead. By the second hour, the race was called due to lack of wind. At this point, Team OluKai had forged their way to a half-mile lead and was declared the winner on Sunday.

    Due to Coast Guard rules that canoes must be off the water by dark, crews ended up towing both days for part of the way.  Team OluKai now has four first place wins and two second place wins for the 2014 sailing series, currently the lead over the entire fleet!

    On July 26th, OluKai will be gearing up to sail from Hale’iwa to Kalapaki Beach and will be looking to add a fifth victory to this years 2014 sailing series.  The final race of the 2014 Sailing Series will take place September 6th at the Kauai South Coast.

    For any additional information regarding the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association (HSCA) you can visit their website here.

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  5. OluKai’s Team Kamakani Eleu Celebrates 16th Straight Season Title Win at Kendall Cup

    Team OluKai Wins Last Race of Sailing Canoe Season, Sailing from Kalapaki to Waimea-Kauai

    September 9, 2013, Kauai, HI – At the helm of master steersman, Marvin Otsuji, OluKai's Team Kamakani Eleu (Energetic Wind) took home the winning title at this weekend's Kendal cup, the seventh and final race of this year's sailing canoe season and the 16th straight season title for the team.

    Photo by Peter Liu

    As one of the oldest forms of transportation, islanders have launched canoes for thousands of years for food, battle, travel, and to visit family. Settling the Hawaiian Islands sometime between 1190 and 1290 A.D., Polynesians sailed on double-hulled voyaging canoes, navigating by the stars. Nearly lost in Hawaii until Hokule'a, a modern-day replica of the traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe, rekindled interest in the ancient knowledge. The Hokule'a helped launch the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance of the 1970s, and with it, a resurgence of Hawaiian language, hula, arts, and passion for protecting the land. Today, the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association (HSCA) is perpetuating this culturally rich pastime through its annual season of seven races complemented by community events.

    "The seven races are unique in that they take paddlers through the entire chain of the Hawaiian Islands, says Otsuji. "We start the season at the Big Island and finish up with our last race of the season, the Kendal Cup's 45-mile course, from Kalapaki to Waimea-Kauai – a sort of homecoming for me and my team."

    Having led his rotating team of 8 all-star paddlers for their 16th consecutive season title, Otsuji is a tenacious leader in the sailing canoe community. Going on his 26th year in the sport, he is a prolific athlete with a passion for the ocean, speed, and competition.

    As a part of OluKai's hands-on approach to giving back, Team OluKai exemplifies the brand's dedication to the education and preservation of the Polynesian culture and the community that surrounds it, established through OluKai's 'Ohana Giveback Program.

    "I've been fortunate enough to be able to continue to pursue my passion for sailing canoe, with an incredible team of paddlers, and the support of such an authentic, like-minded brand like OluKai. Our yellow and brown Makau (bone hook) sail has become a sort of icon for the sport and is a sail I am very proud to represent," added Otsuji.

  6. 40th Annual Queen Lili'uokalani Canoe Race

    September 3, 4 and 5, 2011 – Labor Day weekend – Paddlers from all over the world gathered for the 40th Annual Queen Lili‘uokalani Canoe Races held on the beautiful Kona Coast hosted by Kai Opua Canoe Club. OluKai was proud to be one of the sponsors for the largest long distance canoe race in the world, attracting over a thousand paddlers from Hawaii and beyond. The event featured single hull, double hull and individual races along with a torchlight parade, dance and luau awards ceremony.

    The Queen Liliuokalani Canoe Race was started in 1972 to fulfill a need for a way to train for the grueling Na Wahine O Ke Kai (women outrigger canoe race) and the Molokai Hoe (men outrigger canoe race). The race was named in honor of the last reigning monarch of Hawaii as the first race fell on Queen Liliuokalani's birthday, September 2.

    Saturday, Wa’a Kaukahi (single hull canoes) – The women start this event by paddling 18 miles from Kailua Bay to Honaunau and then the men bring it back 18 miles. Team Livestrong from the Big Island won the men's Iron Open 18 mile race in a time of 1:52:26 and team Kahili Kai from Ala Wai on Oahu won the women’s Iron Open 18 mile race in a time of 2:12:17.

    On Sunday, Wa’a Kaulua (double hull canoes) - The men and women tie together two single hull canoes to make the double hulls, and the women and mixed double hulls start, taking the Wa’a (canoes) 3 miles South to Lyman’s, turn there and return to Kailua Bay for a total of six miles. Following the same course are the OC1 and OC2 canoe race, Stand-Up Paddleboards and a three Keiki divisions (OC6 – 6 person crews): 15, 16 and 18 and under race.

    Monday was the Ali‘i Challenge and course was moved from the 2010 site of Kona Village because of tsunami damage sustained by the resort. The start and finish of this years Ali’i Challenge was held in front of the King Kamehameha Hotel. The 12 person teams were broken into 6 men and 6 women. Men paddled 8.5 miles from Kailua PIer to Honokohau Harbor and the women paddled 8.5 miles from Honokohau Harbor to Kailua Pier. Team Kakio took first place with a time of 3:29:08.

    This years races saw an increase in the number of paddlers with 134 women’s teams compared to 121 in 2010 and 144 men’s teams compared to 123 the previous year. Mahalo nui loa to all the participants, friends, families, and volunteers that helped make the 40th annual Queen Lili’uokalani Canoe Race a success! OluKai is very appreciative to be a part of such a historical race.






  7. OluKai in 1st Place Heading into the HSCA Final Race!

    Congratulations to OluKai's Team Kamakakoa for taking the win in the 24th Na Holo Kai race on August 20th! OluKai is in 1st place going into the final race of the season. Read more at http://ow.ly/69VMZ

  8. OluKai Supports the 2011 Gorge Outrigger Races

    OluKai helped support this years Gorge Outrigger Races, held on July 15-17th in Stevenson, WA.

    Paddlers and their families came from all over the west coast to compete in the 2011 Gorge Outrigger Races. Conditions were not ideal to start, with a dead flat river and rain Saturday morning, but by the start of the first race the wind kicked up and the rain stopped. A record of 67 crews, 402 paddlers, raced the 10 mile course off the Stevenson waterfront. The 10 mile course consists of a 2-lap triangle, with both upwind downstream, and downwind upstream conditions, making for a very challenging race.

    Sunday morning didn't start off any better than Saturday with rain and no wind but by the start of the small boat and SUP races the rain finally stopped, but unfortunately the wind never showed up. Even with the unwelcoming weather competitors, campers and spectators enjoyed another great race in the Columbia Gorge!








  9. 39th Annual Queen Lili'uokalani Canoe Race

    September 4, 5 & 6, 2010 – Labor Day weekend – paddlers from all over the world gathered for the 39th annual Queen Lili‘uokalani Canoe Races held on the beautiful Kona Coast. OluKai was proud to be a sponsor for the largest long distance canoe race in the world, attracting dozens of canoe halau (clubs) and hundreds of paddlers from Hawaii and beyond. The event features single hull, double hull and individual races along with a torchlight parade, dance and luau awards ceremony.

    The Queen Liliuokalani Canoe Race was started in 1972 to fulfill a need for a way to train for the grueling Na Wahine O Ke Kai (Women outrigger canoe race) and the Molokai Hoe (Men outrigger canoe race) – the 32 mile long distance canoe races from the island of Molokai to the island of Oahu. The race was named in honor of the last reigning monarch of Hawai`i as the first race fell on Queen Liliuokalani's birthday, September 2.

    Saturday Wa’a Kaukahi (single hull canoes) – The women start this event paddling 18 miles from Kailua Bay to Honaunau and the men then bring it back 18 miles. Team Primo led by Kai Bartlett of Maui won the men’s Iron Open 18 mile race in a time of 1:53:56 and the Team Calgary Canada won the women’s Iron Open 18 mile race in a time of 2:10:59. The first day’s events ended with a torch light parade where over 500 people participated.

    On Sunday, Wa’a Kaulua (double hull canoes) where the men and the women tie together two single hull canoes to make the double hulls, and the women and the mixed double hulls start, taking the Wa’a (canoes) 3 miles South to Lyman’s, turn there and return to Kailua Bay for a total of six miles. Following the same course are the OC1 and OC2 canoe race, Stand-up Paddleboards and a three Keiki divisions (OC-6 – 6 person crews): 15, 16 and 18 and under race.

    Monday was the Ali‘i Challenge (single hull canoes – 12 person crew), an inaugural year for a race heading north of Kona to finish at Kona Village. The 12 person teams were broken into 6 men and 6 women and it was up to each team to decide if the men or women paddled the first 9 mile leg with a “open water change of crews”. Team Lilikini from the Big Island took first place with 2:24.

    This years exciting event had an astonishing number of participants with approximately 121 women OC6 team and 123 men OC6 team. Mahalo nui loa to all the participants, friends, families, and volunteers that helped make the 39th annual Queen Lili’uokalani Canoe Race a success! Olukai is very appreciative to be a part of such a historical race.

    To learn more about the Queen Lili'uokalani Canoe Race please visit www.queenliliorace.com

  10. Na Holo Kai Sailing Canoe Race: Oahu to Kauai

    The 23rd annual Na Holo Kai Sailing Canoe Race was held on August 21st 2010. The sailing series-leader Olukai team continued it dominance by paddling and surfing their way to a near record winning time across the K'ie'iewaho channel in 7 hours and 13 minutes. With no wind off the start, the team of Tyrus Siale, Scott Wagner,Chris Piko, Butch Keahiolalo, Jason Dameron and Marvin Otsuji battled their way to a lead off of Kaiena Point and the team was never challenged again. The race was the first crossing for Tyrus Siale and Chris Piko , 3rd for Scott Wagner but the 23rd crossing for Marvin Otsuji, who has participated in the race every year since its' inception. Combining the experience of Marvin Otsuji, Butch Keahiolalo and Jason Dameron with the paddling power of Scott, Tyrus and Chris, the team created much too large of an obstacle for the rest of the fleet to overcome.

    Photo courtesy of Gloira Reed

    The conditions and directions of the ocean and wind held all 6 team members in the canoe for over 4 hours. At about the midway point between the islands, sheet man Butch Keahiolalo was able to make a few sail adjustments and the excitement began. The 6-to 8 foot seas were stacked up to make the rest of the race extremely challenging. At a couple of points in the latter part of the race, both Marvin and Jason were steering blind and trying not to get pulled out of the canoe. Paddles were lost, hoops and ama's were broken and at times a snorkel would have been the tool of choice. In spite of the paddling over 90 miles and seven hours, each team member is ready to it again.

    Photo courtesy of Gloira Reed

    The rest of the fleet made up of canoes from Kauai, Maui and Oahu and were 5 to 30 minutes behind the first place Olukai team at the finish. The last race of the season, the Kendall Pacific, will combine 4 and 6 man sailing canoes, one man and 9 man outriggers , standup Boards and surf ski's. The Olukai team is now positioned to win it's 13th overall Sailing Championship .

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