When Kai asked me if I would be willing to write a blog post about our women’s team’s completion of the latest Pa'a Hawaii Kaiwi Channel Relay, I began thinking, “what could I even write that would be worth reading to the end of the blog for?” To be honest, I don’t know if I can answer that question. But here goes nothing. You can lie to me when you see me that you read the whole thing.
The night before my first solo crossing, I threw up in Mark Rigg’s bathroom on Molokai. I was nervous as all hell about just finishing. But to help assuage my fears of the unknown, Mark told me one of the best pieces of advice about crossing the Kaiwi, “you’re going to hit some patches of bad water out there, you just have to paddle through it.” And isn’t that true about almost every crossing, and also, life. But I’m just starting to figure out how to get through the rough patches in both areas, like a baby giraffe with knobbed knees learning to stand for the first time….
Fortunately this year, we were blessed with smoking trade winds for the race, which made for a better-than-most kind of Channel. But really, no matter how good the wind is out there, you always hit sections of tough water. Lucky for me, I got to watch what it looked like when a veteran paddler (a.k.a. my partner, Andrea Moller) hits these patches of water.
Let me just tell you that she makes it look easy. After I would get out from a piece where I swear I was paddling in mud for the last five minutes, she would get in with a smile on her face and just hammer. She was calm, cool, and collected the entire time, not fixated on any external issues like the current, our line, where the competition was, etc. I was blown away. Is that what it is like to paddle at the front of the pack? You just, paddle? What a completely different experience from my baseline of freaking out about every detail.
Every time I cross the channel, I learn a thousand things. This year’s Relay was no exception. We were blessed with a safe, wonderful crossing, and pretty damn good surf almost the whole way across. And I learned what a joy it was to paddle my hardest in the Channel while attempting to set free any distracting worries about the various external factors at play, which I had no control over anyway. And maybe, just maybe, through the experience I got a little bit better at paddling through the rough patches.