DRAWS DIVERSE AND HUGE FIELD
Honolulu, HI (October 6 1995)--Isn't it ironic? They came to Hawaii
first as missionaries, then as whaling captains, and now the men of New
England are returning to Hawaiian waters as outrigger canoe paddlers in
the 44th annual Bankoh Molokai Hoe.
And from the other side of the globe, a team of paddlers from Budapest,
Hungary, is already training on Oahu's North Shore for the 41-mile race
across the Kaiwi (Molokai) Channel.
The New England team calls itself Manu Iwa (Frigate Bird) and joins Team
Hungary in the largest fleet ever to race in the history of the event.
An anticipated 97 teams will fill Molokai Ranch's Hale O Lono Harbor on
Molokai as they rig canoes and prepare for the 7:30 am start on October 8.
On race day the canoe fleet will be joined by another 97 escort boats and
at least 18 official boats for the open ocean invasion from Molokai to
Fort DeRussy Beach, next to the Hilton Hawaiian Village, in Waikiki.
Not a race for the faint hearted, weather conditions and distance across
the sixth roughest channel in the world can take their toll. If the normal
tradewinds blow and produce following seas, participants will be able to
use their surfing skills to paddle and surf across. If the channel is calm,
they'll be forced to paddle every inch of the way.
What is it about this world outrigger championship that is so compelling?
It could be Hawaii's warm, tropical waters, the channel challenge or the
camaraderie of a team sport. Whatever it is, the number of entries has
increased each year for the past 44 years and now draws world class
paddlers from Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Guam, Hungary, Japan,
New Zealand, Tahiti, Tonga, and all parts of the United States.
Former Kauai native Blake Conant, now from Milford, Connecticut is
captain of the New England team. He explained it this way: "I was born and
raised in Hanalei, Kauai, then moved to Honolulu and attended Kamehameha
High School. My dad and I and a couple of other people founded Hanalei
Hawaiian Civic Canoe Club. It was a family thing.
"Two of the other team members (John Edwards and Bob Silvernail from
Bainbridge, New York), were members of the 1994 US Swan Boat Team racing
in Thailand," Conant said.
"John and Bob knew I was from Hawai`i and had done the race a couple of
times. We talked about putting a team together, then we called around and
that's how it started," Conant said. Other team members are: Peter Heed,
Keene, New Hampshire;*** McCauley, Sydney, New York; Mike Fairchild,
Saxton River, Vermont; Frank Stasz, West Hampton, Mass; John Zeigler,
River Edge, New Jersey and Dennis Campbell, California.
"Except for myself, everyone races marathon distance against each other in
Olympic Class one- and- two-person canoes throughout the paddling season
here," Conant said. "I race kayaks. "It's kind of funny to think that 41
miles is a long way when 50 percent of our team paddle in 70, 90 and
"We're paddling masters and I believe we should be very competitive. But
Moloka`i is a funny race. You can lead all the way and huli (flip over),
and that's it. We'll be better off if the weather's not too rough.
Endurance isn't a big deal, just all the nuances of Molokai (Channel),"
Hungarian team captain Zsolt Molnar is from Szeged, the 4th largest city
in Hungary, but he's been training in Newport Beach, California since 1990
and competes on the national Kayak and Canoe Team. This is his third
season racing with Imua Outrigger Canoe Club, but his first crossing as
"Our sponsor, Ge*** Salanky came to Hawaii in 1994 on vacation and saw
the women's Bankoh Na Wahine O Ke Kai," Molnar said. "That's when he
decided to put together a Hungarian team for the men's race in 1995."
All nine paddlers excel in long-distance races and compete in events over
1,000 meters. In the last seven World Championship canoe races, these
athletes have won 13 gold medals, four silver medals and one bronze
between them. They've also won gold medals in the last six world cups.
Other Hungarian team members are: Gabor Kolozsvari, Istvan Gyulai,
Zsolt Pajko, Gabor Furdok, Gy*** Salanky, Zsolt Bohacs, Zsolt Guylai
and Pal Petervari.
Each team consists of nine paddlers with six in the canoe at one time.
Paddlers rotate positions in open-ocean exchanges as the race progresses
across the channel. Divisions include koa and non-koa(fiberglass) open,
master's and senior master's.
The record was set in 1993 when the Faaa, Tahiti, broke the five hour
barrier for the first time, crossing in four hours, 55 minutes 27 seconds.
The website is going together today, tonite and tommorrow and if anyone
has any news or items to contribute to the page - please email me.
ps - the latest from BJ Caldwell's solo 'round'the'worlder is on the
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