Kapuna Ohana Bill Alley

Jon Amundson – Calgary

Ivan told me about Bill’s death at the Duel in the Desert…but I
didn’t put it together until i saw the posting. You see i didn’t know
Bill but had the privilege of racing after him and the honor of
running away from him at the Freshwater Big and Small Boat races
in ’02…saw him a few other times as well and we’d exchange eye
contact and wave, even say a few words. But we had something that was
special, something he and I and a few others share and that is what
we all lost, and what we can’t get back…you see as you age you
watch the numbers fall off around you…illness, changes in life and
plans, retirement,people move away and then some are taken from us,
like Bill. Kapuna are funny…we are competitive and give’em when we
can but we also know that there is a bond of life that touches us in
special ways, lives that stretch behind us and the shorter time we
know intuitively we have left. That bond of life- a connection of
life experiences and the gratitude for the day, the moment, the race,
the eye contact, the smile, every grey hair, the realization we are
doing something other aren’t, can’t or didn’t- maybe sets the Kapuna
apart…it also creates a circle, and ohana, for us whether we know
each other well, or in a conventional sense. The loss of a kapuna is
a loss that can never be replaced. The hole in the ohana can never be
filled…we look around and see our world smaller and though the
sorrows of those that loved him personally are the greater share, our
sorrows are no less in the way we can only feel them. I am so sorry
to see him gone.


Na Wahine O Ke Kai /Women of the Sea

Denise O – Jericho
Na Wahine O Ke Kai – Moloka’i to Oahu-The 25th Crossing

What a beautiful and amazing legacy, and a truly life changing experience! It was my first and the one I will never forget. I believe it is the feeling of being a part of something so much larger than yourself, something that has gone on long before we were ever born, and will go on long after we are gone, that courses through the blood in our veins and sends shivers through our spine. I was asked in an interview once “What does outrigger mean to you?” My answer at the time was something glib and mundane.Then much later I thought more about it. What does it mean? Why in my busy schedule of 40 hour work weeks, grocery shopping, and family obligations do I cram in these countless and often sleep deprived hours on the water training? For what? As my non- sporty friends often point out -it’s not the Olympics. But it was then that it struck me. A simple verse from the movie Dead Poet Society that John Keating (Robin Williams) reads aloud to his class:

“O ME O life!…of the questions of these recurring:
Of the endless trains of the faithless– of cities fill’d with the
foolish;….What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here– that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you might contribute a verse…
That the powerful play goes on, and you might contribute a verse. ”

That’s it. That’s what has compelled me to the Jericho shore day after day, and then to the shore of Moloka’i. And to actually be there…with my team mates and all the many other paddlers who share this same compulsion…indeed obsession at times. The sights the sounds, the smells…but still there is more. A feeling of being a part something so much larger than yourself. A feeling so tangible. I am no poet or writer but there was something about the energy of that remote island, from our team, from the emails that were read aloud from friends at home two nights before the race, from the many generations that have gone before, that inspired me to write these words:

At the start we feel the heat
It’s beating like a drum
Beating like the hearts
Of all the women
Who have come
Who gather on this shore
To be the best that we can be
For ourselves and for each other
The Women Of The Sea.

We bless the Kahi Kili
This boat that we will ride
That it might guide us safely
Till we each the other side.

A blessing for our loved ones
And the ones who can’t be here
We feel your spirits with us now
Your heartbeats we can hear.

No matter what our differences inside this boat we’re one
No matter what the pain we feel or hardships that may come
We will give each other strength
And we shall overcome.

Mahalo to the spirits of the Wind and of the Sea
For watching over Jericho
And our boat Kahi Kili

Mahalo for this Journey
Of the Heart and of the Mind
We bless you now and always
Na Wahine O Ke Kai

~Denise O

Moloka’i 2003 – Paddle Hard, Have Fun

Shane – FCRCC

“Go fast and have fun”…this was the reply on Saturday afternoon when
someone asked what our goal was for the Molokai Hoe the next day. At
first glance it might seem a little “light” or recreational statement
for a race such as the Crossing but it sums up the race and the whole
trip quite nicely.

During the week leading up to the race there was never any mention of
where we expected to finish, it didn’t matter. What mattered was
getting nine guys to blend together in a short period of time. What
mattered was having fun, embracing the Aloha spirit and enjoying the
Hawaiian lifestyle. On any given day there were three equally
important tasks to accomplish:
1) Go out and paddle together
2) Get some of the prep work for the race done.
3) Go out and have fun.
It didn’t matter if you went surfing before practice…it mattered that
you went surfing!

“Shut up and paddle” was Lori’s advice when I had asked her about
Moloka’i just before I flew to Oahu. Good advice when you are racing
your first Moloka’i Hoe with an experienced crew. She went on to
give me two rules to follow:
1) You know nothing.
2) If you think you know something and have an urge to say it, keep
your mouth shut and check rule #1.

Those who know me know that these are difficult rules for me but with
the liberal use of duct tape, I was mostly able to keep my mouth shut
and my eyes and ears open. I found out very quickly that Lori’s
rules were pretty much on target. The way I was used to paddling at
home and the way I needed to paddle in Hawaii were not the same and
figuring out the necessary changes took all of our practice days and
a lot of patience from the more experienced crew members.

Race Day

By 5:40am on Sunday we had forced down some breakfast, loaded our
bags into a car going to the escort boat and piled into the back of a
truck for the ride down to the Hale O Lono. It was a quiet and cold
ride down to the beach where the canoes were waiting. After a final
check, our canoe was put in the water and the starting crew sent
off. With hands full of flip flops and water bottles, we made our
way to the escort boat loading area, found our boat and quickly said
goodbye to dry land. Before we had even left the lagoon, the first
casualty of the race was reported over the radio: an escort boat
leaving the lagoon had collided with a canoe, breaking the canoe in
half. Someone’s race was over before it began.

The race itself seemed surprisingly quick. At 7:25am, 5 minutes
before the official start time, the race started…our escort boat
hadn’t even cleared the lagoon yet as we were waiting to make sure
that the escort boats for the other teams related to our host club,
Hui Nalu, were on the water and no one was left behind. We caught up
with our crew at Lau’u point as the go ahead to start changes was
given. We proceeded with a series of one-man changes to get everyone
back into their proper pairings so that we could get the regular
rotations working.

In what seemed like no time at all, we were close to the other side
of the channel, approaching Oahu. For the past couple changes we had
been running with Hui Lanikila 2 and Kawaihae in a three-way battle
taking turns leading our little pack. As we got closer to shore, we
reeled in Kawaihae and began to overtake them when a sloppy change
caused them to huli. It was impressive to see how quickly they had
their canoe righted and bailed and in no time at all, they came back
with a vengeance not wanting to give up on the fight with Hui
Lanikila and us.

Coming into Hawaii Kai, it became a battle between local steersmen as
both Hui Lanikila’s helmsman and ours considered this home turf. We
fought hard but by the time we reached Diamond Head, they had opened
up a 300-meter lead. Unfortunately we didn’t get another chance to
reel them in. As Cam, Vlad and I sat in the escort boat paralleling
our canoe, we suddenly felt the boat rise and fall hard as a large
wave rolled under us. Looking over we watched it bear down on the
ama side of the canoe and get steeper and steeper until it began to
break. Breathlessly, we watched as our canoe disappeared and quietly
counted off the seconds waiting to see if they would survive.
Suddenly the ama broke through the crest, followed by the bow as the
boat spun into the wave. The force of the wave was so great that the
boat began to surf backwards down the wave. All six paddlers paddled
hard trying to get beyond the wave, fearful of the reef behind them.
The crew successfully pulled through the wave and quickly worked
their way offshore to minimize the risk of a second wave catching
us. The wave incident cost us valuable distance over the Lanakila
crew behind us so a succession of quick one-man changes was done to
keep the boat moving quickly and maintain our lead to the finish.

We paddled hard, we went fast and we had fun. I can’t wait to go


2003 FCRCC Molokai Crew
Bruce Blankenfeld
Cam Fagrie
Dave Jensen
Don Irvine
Greg “The Legend” Poole
Shane Martin
Terry Lewis
Tony Van Buren
Vlad Tucakov