3 – New Updates From Molokai

Briac – FRCC

Every practice ends with a similar scene: instead of heading down through the cannal towards the shed, each boat picks its own line through the reef trying to run in the crashing surf and see how fast the boat can go. With mixed success I might add….actually I’ve heard the spot has a special place in Jericho’s heart….but maybe they can post the story.(Speaking of Jericho, we just caught a glimpse of Paul yesterday as we were driving through Waikiki).

As we run these boats down, I wonder if we’d do the same with Mirages,or Bradley’s….but typically Paul (our local helmsman) takes the most aggressive line, then Dave and Steve stay just wide. The conditions are very odd. Paul says he’s rarely seen these types of mixed conditions, which will make for a very different approach to Diamond Head (final turn in the race). The swells aren’t huge…and the forecast is still a little too long term to start relying on.

Tuesday morning started with the usual 7am surf session. Everyone is starting to get the hang of this, and as each wave comes through,it’s not uncommon to see multiple ‘Creekers’ running side by side shocked at this result. You can buy rides in an outrigger on the beach, and it’s something like $15 for 3 waves, and I call these guys “the surfer mowing machine”. You have to see it to believe it. These guys line up their 600lb canoe outside the surf break and wait for a big one. Then, they tear through the 60+ people waiting for a wave. If you don’t see them….to bad….Today is a down day for surfing.

Ater surfing, we head to “Island Paddler” a store dedicated to paddling….a store probably visited by every single Canadian paddler visiting…to admire the amazing wooden paddles….good only for hanging on a wall in our part of the world. Everyone buys books, shirts, hats, whatever…

So about now, it’s been at least 2 hours since breakfast, so we should go for a massive lunch, or whatever it is you eat at 9am. We’re up to 4-5 meals a day. The Costco run was a massive load, and chances are we’ll be back tomorrow. On the topic of food, Scott needs mention: Scott Booth ladies, can cook like you wouldn’t believe. He’s been the chef these last three nights, and everybody’s wondering how he will outdo himself tonight. The man works magic with a bbq.

On another note, having 14-16 guys living together in close quarters is starting to take its toll. Neanderthalisms abound. I’d love to expand here, but this is just not the place for it….

Trevor arrived last night, and our friend Gord from Australia showed up for practice yesterday and is now living with us as well. The guy definitely eats his spinach, and blends nicely, so he should slide in as a meat seat no problem. His wife was on the Mooloolaba crew that won the womens race, and like us,he jokes the heat is on him to beat their time!! Also, Sampson is moving in tonight,and I believe we’re planning a big Mahi-Mahi bbq now that everyone is here.

We saw the high-school group training surfskis, OC1’s, OC2’s again yesterday. Every single one of them is in top shape (guys/girls),and their coach is making them do push-ups and pull-ups everyday after practice. They get these boats humming….this is a VERY healthy program….definitely tough competition.

We arrived at practice yesterday, to massive drops of water crashing down …. felt right at home! We started thinking maybe if it rained hard all crossing, it might improve our odds! And maybe if the water temperature dropped by about 10-15 degrees, we’d be the only ones making changes…it’d be an all Canadian finish! If it got cold enough, we may even be able to skate across….We were talking to Gord last night about winter paddling….these guys hate training in the winter time…the water temperature drops to ~20, and the air is around 16-19degC…..horrible. Chalk up one more guy who thinks we’re nuts.

Ok, everyone is starting to mix their drinks, so it must be time for practice.

One last note, when I cruised into “Island Paddler”, the guy definitely knew the Canadian teams, and was definitely impressed with both women’s crews…. sounds like everyone was…the second crew finished well alongside many top crews. Nice work.

Yikes…these are not getting any shorter…

2 – Briac’s Molokai Chronicles


Hmmm…just got back from a ridiculous paddle, and question whether my arm and hand controls are indeed receiving signals from my brain. More about this later. First, I forgot a few items. We’re staying and training just off of Hawai’i Kai. This is on the South-East corner of the Island of Oahu, and we are about a 20 minute drive east of Waikiki beach. During practice, we are able to observe the beckoning island of Molokai in the distance (site of the race start). It’s a ways off, and calls to you saying “come on over, I’ll be nice, but trust me you’ll sleep well when I’m done with you!”.

So last night was a nice relaxing evening. We sat around and discussed some of the finer points that we the crossing. Everyone was relatively surprised at how comfortable people feel in the boats, in the swells. But basically, we’re just trying to ignore the fact that it’s 8pm but feels like 1am. So the house is quiet, and purring by 8:30 to the gentle sounds of Reg’s snores (he wanted to be mentioned). Your days start early, so everything is shifted.

At 5:30am the next morning, everyone is up and shovelling massive amounts of breakfasts into them, and we’re off to Pearl Harbour to load the boats. After a quick security check and some bad jokes about not calling Moe by his full name “Mohammed”, we’re at the loading pallets. We see our boats alongside teams like Rai and Hawaii/NZ and wonder how long that will last. The pallets have boats packed 3-4 per, and fork-lifted onto a barge. This is the second load to go over. We see Kelowna loading their boats…good to see some friendly faces. Shane completes our registration, and we’re off for surf session #2 (Todd Bradley mentioned during a recent visit to Gibsons that surfing is essential to understanding how to catch waves, so we’re following his advice to a ‘T’). Waves are small and gentle, so no injuries to report.

On a side note here, drinking water has become the equivalent of a part time job.

Next on the agenda is some eating, a few naps, and head out to practice for 2:30pm. Our first hard practice. The water is very confused, with a very strong off-shore breeze, and swells coming the opposite way. We do a number of runs through the chop sideways, then some up and down wind sections, and then we head out around the point by some scenic cliffs (which you can see in the picture section posted by Lori). We’re paddling close to the cliff, at times less than 2-3 metres from the cliff, and waves are absolutely pounding the faces, yet the boat sits relatively calm. Very odd sensation, paddling water like back home,
yet Hell is unfolding immediately next to you. Fatigue is starting to set in, as we head back.

As we’re pulling up to the club house, 30-40 surf-skis are racing up and down the coast. The’re all being paddled by high school kids, and it dawns on us why the Hawaiians know what they’re doing. These kids are all being coached, and doing race pieces. Kind of like an after school hockey practice back in Canada….a very healthy looking program.

We pull onto the beach, and everyone is absolutely ravenous. Talk of eating horses and the like abounds. We rush home, and a scene like you’ve never seen unfolds: like a pack of wolves, the kitchen counter is swarmed by 13 wilting paddlers, meat and cheese and packaging is flying through the air. Innovative new ways to ingest more food faster are being developed left and right. Ok, we’re watching a video of the 2001 crossing, and we’ll crash hard tonight. Lesson of the day: when you think you’ve had enough to eat, have another plate, and then top up with anything else you can find…and then squeeze in a snack as soon as you can.

1 – Most of us Molokai Virgins

Briac FRCC

So the False Creek women paddled to glory last week (I still don’t believe that their achievements have sunk in with everyone yet..under 10 minutes behind the record setting winners…that’s got to be considered within jab of title contention)…and hung us out to dry in our cold, wet Vancouver hideout with no information, no updates, nothing….we were reduced to drug addicts in withdrawal, hitting up any website that would mention even the tiniest of facts about the Molokai crossing…trying to find anything about what
conditions were like….

So having been in that situation, hopefully a couple postings on this site will avoid a repeat.

The intent of these postings are to give a perspective for everyone stuck at home (did I mention how warm the water is here?), and be at the same time informative and entertaining. Let me know if there’s any aspect I can add to these.

So the FCRCC men’s program is sending over the better part of two full crews this year. Most of us Molokai virgins, with a meager four who have at least one crossing under their belts. Shane who crossed last year for the first time has mostly been the brains and organization of this year’s effort.

To give you an idea of what a crossing entails:
1. Getting race boats
2. Arranging for escort boats
3. Finding bodies to fill any empty seats
4. Renting a house for training week
5. Finding boats to use for training week
6. Booking flights
7. Booking accommodations on Molokai
8. Trans-island travel arrangements
9. Making sure we’ve got food, cars, surfboards…etc…the list
goes on..

So now to introduce the line up:
We’ve got a total of 14 guys coming over from FCRCC (9 people required for each crew). Shane showed up Thursday to arrange last minute details, then Reg followed suit on Friday, Scott and Gord arrived Saturday afternoon on separate flights, then the boatload of Jake, Niels, Vlad, Adam, Steve, and Briac showed up Saturday afternoon, followed by Moe, Dave, and Cam later that night. Many trips to the airport. Trevor, the 14th will show up later in the week. In addition, we’ve picked up a guy from Australia: Sampson
Hollywood (with a name like that we still have to ask him if he’s involved in the porn industry). There’s a guy from Mooloolaba joining us by the name of Gord, a steersperson from HuiNalu by the name of Paul, and finally one of his friends. That’s a total of 18. No crews have been set yet, and that will slowly jel over the next few days.

So the first real day in Hawaii:
Sunday October 3rd. Temperature: hot. Humidity: low. Waves: not much. 7am (yes, jetlag), and we’re all piling into the minivans to go surfing. We get to Waikiki and rent the heaviest, biggest longboards in the world. It’s pretty flat, and none of us really know what we’re doing…but we squeeze in an hour of surfing…and our first casualty of the trip occurs: Cam is surfing a 16ft wave, he’s just coming out of the barrel when he bites it on the reef. Actually he fell off a 1ft wave and stepped on a sea urchin. Man
down. Life guard offers to urinate on his foot…he passes…which results in a trip to the store for some vinegar.

Back to the house for some lunch…we’re all awaiting with anticipation our first training run: 11am. We get to HuiNalu and see our boats for the first time. They are a Bradley and a Bradley Striker. Very nice boats…great skirts and paddle hooks. We split up into 3 crews of 5, and head out. You follow a few markers to navigate through the reefs, and out into open water. Everyone is giddy with excitment as we observe the swells on the horizon. The boats are running well…we see teams from Tahitti training as well. The water is very salty, but soooo warm.

We head ccw around the island, and we’re going up against the swells…it’s not big, but already the full potential of what’s in store is clear…you hear the occasional “Holy S#@t!”. All boats are holding side by side..then we finally turn downwind, and the ‘Hawaiian steersperson’ advantage becomes clear…Paul’s boat takes off. Eventually we head back into the harbour, and Paul is mentioning to stay beside the channel…odd…but quickly we understand, Vlad calls a push, and the boat picks up, we’re three boat lengths behind Paul’s boat, and our boat has just shifted gears and we’re now wondering what is happening…we’re going so fast it eventually becomes clear that to continue paddling is a waste of time, I look over my shoulder, and see a wall of water bearing down on us…we reach Paul’s boat just as we peel off the shoulder of the wave, and see them get onto it just as it is cresting…they disappear behind a wall of whitewash..and I’m thinking we just lost a crew and boat. Turns out they did fine…and the third boat is sitting there watching all of this yelling and jealous. Another sign of things to come. We then load our boats onto the trailer, and we will be loading them onto a barge tomorrow morning to be shipped off to Molokai.

Ok, mental note, I’ll have to make these updates shorter……