Female paddlers from Australia, Canada, Hawai`i, New Zealand and the mainland United States will challenge each other on September 29, 1996, in the 18th annual Bankoh Na Wahine O Ke Kai - "Women of the Sea" - 41 mile, six-person outrigger canoe race across the Kaiwi Channel from Moloka`i to O`ahu.
How It All Began:
On October 15, 1979 the dream that began 25 years earlier became a reality with the first women's crossing. Dedicating themselves to promoting, organizing and producing the women's channel race, the first committee members were: Hannie Anderson, Mary Winchester, Donna Wolf, Lita Blankenfield, Connie McGuire, Mary Fern, Charlene Machado, Amy Best, Puna Dawson, and Carleen Ornellas.
In the early years, it was a struggle. The paddlers financed the event themselves, with fund raisers, until 1990 when Bank of Hawaii became the official corporate title sponsor.
About The First Women's Crossing:
Team members were: Anona Napoleon, Georgia Adams, C. Waterman, Donna Coelho, J. Rudscrom, Sandy Kalahiki, Puna Dawson, H. Keono, Rosie Lum, K. Parker, G. Kalo, T. Tannihill, N. Cids, G. Moniz, C. Froiseth, Anne Nichol, T. Chun, Carleen Ornellas, and C. Morishigi. Each crew consisted of 18 women.
Healani Canoe Club was coached by Richard Babe Bell. Their crew members were: Uilani Bell, Queenie Niguchi, A. Puna, Nani Spencer, Shay Bintliff, Marsha Kreosky, Elsa Wright, Male Tufele, J. Price, Florence Apa, Ellen Pabliano, Bernie Alu, Robin Reed, J. Williams, E. Liby, Evelyn Arakaki, R. Kealupuluole, M. Shishido, Mary Komp and Georgia Campbell.
Anderson and the late Leinani Faria, another colleague who shared the dream, officiated that first race. The two crews and officials set out from Moloka`i in 6 am darkness, prompting Healani steers person Marsha Kreosky to yell, Am I going the right way?
It was a close contest but Healani won, with a time of seven hours 19 minutes 20 seconds, when they took a more southerly route to O`ahu. Onipa`a finished approximately 15 minutes later. Channel conditions were termed average, meaning 5-8-foot swells with crosswinds. Coach Bell said the Moloka`i Channel was not as rough as his 20-member women's crew expected it to be but enthusiastic members of his crew, the first women's team to ever cross the channel, were a bit more emphatic.
We never thought of quitting. I could go on to Barbers Point, said Georgia Campbell.
The Women Proved They Could Do It:
California's Offshore Has Taken The Title 9 Times:
Outrigger Canoe Club won the first race in 1979 and again in 1981. Hui Nalu won it in 1982 and '83. In 1984 and '85 Outrigger won. Tired of being beaten in their own home town, in 1992 Outrigger proved their channel experience finally claiming victory over their California competitors in 1992. But 1993 and '94 and '95 belonged to Offshore. In 1995 Offshore broke its own record and so did the next six finishers. With Olympic paddlers among its ranks Offshore has placed second or third in the races it didn't win. Will they make it ten in 1996?
The races grow larger each year and the women's crews continue to get faster, often posting finish times ahead of the teams competing in the companion men's championship -- The Bankoh Molokai Hoe. On September 29, an estimated 40-plus crews will be at the start, challenging one another to see who's number one in endurance. The race begins at 7:30am at Hale O Lono Harbor on Moioka`i and the first finisher is expected to cross the line at Duke Kahanamoku Beach fronting the Hilton Hawaiian Viiiage in Waikiki at approximately 1pm.
Bankoh Supports Hawaiian Canoe Paddling:
Hilton Hawaiian Village Sets The Stage:
Race Aired On KHON TV 2:
Hele On Back
Last Modified: Wednesday - 09-25-96
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