Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Crossing, 2008

And it's over. The Tahitians took four out of the top five spots, and Shell Va`a set a course record for the third year in a row. We saw some of the guys, and they looked like hard-core awesome athletes. The initial results have Kamehameha at 81st (our team) and 85th (yellow) out of 106 teams. I'm happy with that.

It was a good crossing - especially compared to last year, where I puked the whole way across.

The early crew flew over at 8am Friday. There were 21 of us in a 3 bedroom plantation house in what used to be Moloka`i Ranch. I guess it still is, but it's turning into a ghost town now that the Ranch was decided to starve the people out. We overwhelmed the septic system before the first day was out. Luckily there were lots of fields nearby for business, and a construction site with a porta-pottie a short walk away. It's a good thing we all get along.

First Hour
I start off on the escort boat with Rod and Eli. Conditions look ok; not rough at all like last year. Even though I have the patch on I'm still a bit stressed about the channel & am worried about getting sea sick again. The first run along the Moloka`i coast is smooth. We pass La`au Point, we do the first change, and suddenly, after so many months of prep, the race is on & I'm in some other world.

Alex is steering. Eli strokes the first piece, then Dave. I'm in seat four. This section is a bit of a washing machine, with the wake of 100 escort boats combining with the currents running through the channel. We take a more northern route, but it looks like the bulk of the pack is taking a southern route.

Second Hour
Dave, then Eli are in one. I'm in three. We turn south, and hit some amazing and fast runs. It's fun. Later, when we have to turn west, we slow down and struggle a bit.

Third Hour
Dave pulls a double in seat one. I'm back in four. We can see Diamond Head! I didn't think we would be able to see it so early. Seas are about six feet. The currents aren't super smooth. We can catch some big waves, but get tossed around a bit in between. Again, we run fast when heading south but bog down a bit when running west.

Fourth Hour
Rod moves back to steer, Eli pulls a triple, and things start to get rough. Rudy jumps into seat two, but the previous two didn't set the paddle right & it floats down the gunnel. Lance needs to bail, but the previous guy didn't attach the bailers when he was done. We stall. Water comes in, and it seems to take forever for to bail. We aren't balanced at all, and so I stay on the left for a long time 'cause the ama pops or we take on water every time I switch. We're all tired. It looks like Portlock is only an hour away, and I'm sure that we'll be there by the end of this hour. And though I had the same illusion last year, I fall for it again.

Fifth Hour
We still haven't passed Portlock. We won't even pass it by the end of this set. Mentally I'm ready for calmer waters, but the seas instead start to get tricky. We're all tired, I think, and this part is just hard.

Sixth Hour
Lucas gets in to stear a set, which is good experience for him. We finally pass frakkin' Portlock, and I was hoping for clean waves but it's still choppy. Not as rough as the previous hour, but not the smooth fast ride we were hoping for for the Hawai`i Kai run. The boats start to converge here. `Anuenue comes in fast on the inside. I don't see where Keahiakahoe was, they seem to appear out of nowhere; we walk on them for a bit, then they pull ahead. I'm in seat 3, it's a shorter blade, and my flexibility is shot. I hurt.

Final Run
We pass Diamond Head, and we're in home waters. Roz puts the first time crossers in the canoe - Lucas, Eli, Lance, and Anthony. Alex and I round it out. This run feels good. We can't catch up with Anuenue or Keahiakahoe, but we stay well ahead of the crews behind us.

Final time: 6 hours 24 minutes 50 seconds. That's about 22 minutes faster than last year, and a big jump in the rankings. Again, I feel good about it.

I was thinking this might be my last year for distance. I stress too much about being on the escort boat. The ocean is unpredictable, and some years the crossing is brutal. But this year felt awesome, I like our team, I would cross again with these same guys without hesitation ... so damnit, I guess I'll be back.


Anonymous said...

It's like CRACK... you'll be back

tom-A-hawk said...

right on brotha ! fun to greet you on your return ... xo -T.