Music's Like a Snuggie for Your Soul


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Molokai Hoe

In high school, i played nearly every sport possible, even volleyball (for which my lack of talent was laughable). But my true love was swimming. Testament to the abilities of our phenomenal coach, we placed at states in the medley relay and when the individual results were figured, my terrified freshman backside found it's way in the top five rankings more than once. I never made it to the podium, but i don't remember being too bummed, as it was only a handful of months before i was crying in my goggles learning how to flip turn off the wall. 

We worked our spandex-covered keesters off, but we had a lot of fun. I was co-captain my junior year; it was a big part of my life.  (Thankfully, thankfully, not before) but just after states my Jr. year, i was informed i wouldn't be able to swim on the team anymore (i guess their concerns were legit on account that seizures and water can be a lethal mix, but it didn't help my feelings about it at the time.) I responded with grace and understanding (of a tempestuous two-year-old). 

Fully prepared to Eeyore away my senior year, i was scooped back up by the angel of This Charmed Life, and a coach for the school outrigger canoe paddling team advocated on my behalf to let me join them for the season. So rather than swimming back and forth in a pool, i got to do this:

Among the guys in the video above (and builder/designer of the boat!) is a friend of mine named Luke Evslin. Our parents are cohorts, we went to a few state science fairs together and we'd both competed in several ocean-related races and events.

Every year Hawaii hosts a 41 mile canoe paddling race from Molokai to Oahu by way of the treacherous Kaiwi channel. It's been deemed the World Championship of outrigger canoe paddling. Each year thousands come from around the globe to compete in the Molokai Hoe.

In October of 2010, Luke was making an open ocean change when, in a freak accident, he was hit by the escort boat. The prop sliced through his back five times, breaking his pelvis, and ever-so narrowly missing his spine. My friend Makana (who made the video above- thanks Makana!) was in the water with Luke when it happened. He said they were all fairly certain when they realized the extent of the damages, that Luke was gonna die.

It was a long, agonizing battle, 
but his spirit prevailed.

Race day, Luke posted on Facebook:
I happen to open Facebook to the prompt "What's on your mind?" My FB therapist, just what I need at 4:30 in the morning. Well, since you asked... Eighteen months ago I was sure I'd never race the channel again. The beautiful, alluring and deadly Kaiwi channel has now sat festering in a dark part of my mind for a year and a half. It's always there, darting in and out of comprehension. And finally, on this windy Sunday morning, there is no hiding. What began on Moloka'i on 10/10/10 will now finish on O'ahu on 5/27/12. And, Facebook, to answer your question: I am petrified. 


The journey was long. The swells were huge. My step-mom, also a paddler, kept me appraised by phone throughout the race.

Finally: this picture- the lead boat had appeared in the harbor. And who was it that claimed the first place victory among thousands of the burliest,  gnarliest, ridiculously fit outrigger canoe paddlers?

This rag-tag bunch of guys. Luke, despite his harrowing ordeal, steered them home for the win, showing triumph of the human spirit trumps just about everything including; terror, vicious, pitching oceans, great distances and the efforts of far more muscular men.

To Luke, Makana (another courageous soul i could do a whole nother post about), and the rest of the World Champion paddlers: Congratulations! I'm ecstatic for you guys. Praise and awe and happy tears and mounds of pride in knowing such resilient, remarkable young men.


  1. What an awesome story! What an amazing guy!

  2. Holy hell! That is unbelievable. Brave, brave man.

  3. Amaaaaaaazing! Wow, great story!

  4. Wow! That's awesome! And I love how you put the post together -- great videos, great music! Congratulate your friends from all of us in the virtual world!

  5. I'm so glad you all liked the story also! I didn't know if i was just biased in knowing those guys so well. Makana was like a surrogate little brother of mine; his sister was on the swim team with me. Their dad taught me how to surf, so i spent a lot of time with them. Their mom just died from breast cancer a few years ago. He's such a great kid. I can't think of anyone more deserving of the win.

    I've gushed big southern-style gullywasher warm tropical happy tears over it several times.

    This race is like the Superbowl of Hawaii (with a contingent from NZ, Australia, and the rest of Polynesia). SUCH a big deal.

    That's definitely one thing i miss- the fact that a culture of canoe paddling serves to supplant doofus USA pastimes like American football. (Which i guess is hypocritical bc i really like rugby and ice hockey, but i maintain football is far more oafish; lowest on the rung in terms of demanding finesse, teamwork and intelligence.

    Lacrosse should really be America's favorite pastime. What an awesome game, and truly indigenous to our country.

    Anyhow, forgive my personal rant/addendum. I really appreciate the comments as always! Glad you could enjoy their success with me. Yalls are awesome.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Holy shite. And yikes, what an injury. And over all Whoa!

  8. Really enjoyed reading this -- well done!


Comments are like flowers on the doorstep.