Anne Marie Reichman solo crossing the Kaiwi channel.
My solo 3Kaiwi channel2 crossing, from Molokai to Oahu : 32 miles.
Last week this time, Saturday evening and shortly after sunset, Dan and I are cozy bundled up in our tent, accompanied by a full moon while camping out on Molokai. Previously that morning, we take the 7.05am flight from Maui to Molokai, where Mike Holmes, my boat escort skipper, picks us up. (Mike also escorted me on the Pailolo channel last April from Maui - Molokai)
We fly over, because Campbell took my board on his boat from Maui.
(Cheers, mate!) How nice to hop on a plane with only some camping gear! The entire day on Molokai is awesome! From Œtalk story1 with Mike in the harbor, shop groceries in town, taste Molokai-brewed coffee, to catch up with fellow-paddlers and friends while enjoying the beautiful beaches, our play - and campground.
I feel a vacation feeling with a twist. The beauty, the crisp colors and just being on a different island makes relaxed and happy. All I need to do is chill, hydrate and eat. As the day moves on though, I feel excitement mixed with some nerves as I am going to paddle 32 miles *solo for the first time- at 8 o1clock the following morning. My initial goal is to cross the finish line; a humble approach, knowing + a little worried as I dealt with a Œset back1, a lack of training due to injury and surgery in June. On the other hand, I really want to do well and my competitive juices start flowing. I know I have my Œdiesel distance power1 plus the mindset to get me through tough moments.
Talking to Mike helps a lot, as he has a competitive mindset with a background in canoe racing. Most of all; he knows this channel and enjoys being out there. Dan and I are both stoked to have Mike as my escort captain.
At 5.25 the 25th of July, I wake up by noise of the Œlay down paddlers1. They are packing up their tents as they will start their crossing at 7.30 am, half an hour before the Stand Up1s. The full moon has this golden yellow glow and is about to sink in the ocean. What a great way to start the day! Dan orders that he is in charge of packing up camp. He likes me to eat, relax and join the paddlers for the prayer (Œpuli1 in Hawaiian). Like previous years, I stand in a large circle (about 150 participants) and hold hands while having my eyes closed. I can1t help but smirk and slightly agree with a comment I hear, that actually Œthis1 is already worthwhile being here. The Œpuli1 is a very special; a Œchicken skin1 moment! Here we are; all united from different parts of the world with similar lifestyles, our drive and passion to compete and/or accomplish the 32mile 3Kaiwi2 channel crossing. I hear how the minister asks God to guide our escorts and us with safety across the channel. He also asks God to give us strength and give us the courage to paddle as fast as we can.
7.00 o1clock: Mike has arrived with his boat close to the beach. I paddle our camping gear out, while Dan swims to the boat. After mixing my drinks (with energy powder and electrolytes), preparing my hip packs with energy gel and electrolyte gums, I paddle to the start line. There I check the Œhot shots1 and position myself with them in the corner of paddle power. At 8.00 o1clock we start and I start my steady, firm strokes. Even though this race can take up to 7 hours, I know I need to go for it from the beginning, so I do. Andrea is in front of me. She1s an amazing athlete from Brazil, living on Maui. As it turns out, she breaks the female record crossing the channel Stand Up this race: Amazing and inspiring. Way to go, Andrea!
The ocean becomes deeper and bluer. 3Yes2! I am Œhere1 again. I connect with this deep blue and I feel very happy. Ekolu1s words from the previous night come back to me: 3don1t forget to look around and take in the beauty2. With the forecast for the wind to be moderately strong (increasing during the day) I keep waiting for the wind to hit me and blow me across. ButŠ the wind is not picking up that much, which results in paddling slower than expected. I keep bundling my energies into some explosive strokes to surf some wind swells - this is the speed you want! Dan and Mike give me feedback on Œmy line1 I am taking. Every bump I catch results in a Œway to go, AM1 and ŒThat1s it1 from the boat! Dan lets me know every few minutes that I am looking strong and that I am doing great.
It is all about teamwork out here. I am very aware and appreciative of it.
The hours go fast and melt into one. Every once and a while I count how many hours I have been on the water to stay with it. I can feel my arms and shoulders 3 to 4 hours into the race, and I tell myself that Œit1s ok1. My legs are doing well and I am coordinated. Oahu, the little Œdot1 at the horizon when I started, is becoming bigger and bigger. This is cool. And then, a few hours later, it is also Œnot so cool1 as I tell myself it is not coming closer fast enough. I am slightly disappointed about these light winds * and I know I cannot let this negative thought get the better of me. Making a conscious switch Œin my thinking1 I tell myself to embrace Œwhat is1 in able to focus and enjoy! Checking my watch is one of the ways to get back to Œthe now1 and it gives me primary orders in when to take my gels, my energy. And then... there is the China wall. I hear Dan yell at me:
3Hit that China wall, baby!2 In my mind I create a new joke: During a race you never want to Œhit the wall1 (an English expression for running out of energies * NB for Dutchies), but during this race you do want to hit the wall, the China wall! Haha.
The last few miles are waiting with a strong headwind! Auch! My speed decreases fast and I need to take every stroke Œout of my toes1 to keep moving. The finish is slowly moving closer to me. I see how another solo girl Candice, strong paddler from Oahu, overtakes me.
This is frustrating, but there is nothing I can do to change it as I give it all I have. I hear Honora and Ekolu cheer me on while the speaker Œdude1 is calling my nameŠ Mark Raaphorst yells 3Go Holland!2 I feel a huge relieve: 3I did it!2 Dan swims towards me after I cross the finish line and tells me I can let go of that paddle now. Once on land, I am stoked to find familiar faces. It1s a happy Œcamp1 with satisfied paddlers * eating and hanging out. Starboard teammates Zane and Conor, Reid from Stand Up Paddle magazine, Campbell, Jeremy, Phil and Ian (the Kiwi crew) all congratulate me. Ozzie Fiona is there and takes a few pics (happy to have these memories, Fi!). Gerry Lopez (who I met briefly the previous day) congratulates me and tells me I need some flowers. Saying that, he takes of one of his own lays and puts them around my neck. I am honored and take it all in.
Turns out; I end up 4th overall of the women in 6 hours and 40 minutes. I am happy with the result (with a little voice in my mind saying that 3rd would have been fun and not to far away).
The award ceremony and dinner take place at the outrigger canoe just outside of Waikiki. It is Œthe legendary canoe club1 The Duke himself used to paddle and surf. A lot of the paddling and surfing history has been created right here! When we walk out to meet up with friends for a celebration drink in Waikiki, Dan makes me check out the people who are on the Œwall of fame1 at the canoe club. Guess who1s there amongst all the other legends? Our skipper, Mike!