03 Jun Wa’a Kiakahi 2013
The Hawaiian Canoe Association (HSCA) was on Kaanapali Beach this past Saturday, June 1st, performing what they call “Community Service.” This is the 9th Annual Wa’a Kiakahi which takes place during the HSCA’s annual race between the Hawaiian Islands.
The first leg of the race began at Keokea on Hawaii, the Big Island and went to Hana on Maui. Once on Maui they raced from Hana to Kahului, then from Kahului to Kaanapali. We sponsor this leg of the race because we believe in the preservation of Hawaiian culture and we believe in the HSCA’s mission to celebrate and educate the world about the ancient traditions of the wa’a.
Wa’a in Hawaiian is a canoe. Don’t be mistaken, this is not just any canoe. The Hawaiian sailing canoe is regarded as a living being, an extension of the energy of the ocean. These canoes travel about 20 knots and the hulls alone are approximately 400 pounds, 45 feet long and with the rigging they weigh about 600-750 pounds. A crew of 6 will spend at least a day rigging up their canoes.
In the talk story session with Mike Kincaid, Marvin Otsuji and Kala`i Miller, they spoke of a common belief that early Polynesians voyaged the ocean and happened to stumble upon the Hawaiian Islands. This is simply not true. Using the stars to navigate their wa’a, early Polynesians traveled to and from Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands with intention.
It was and still is a tremendous undertaking to make a wa’a. Once built it provides transportation and a means for fishing. It requires care and it must be maintained. In a sense the wa’a becomes an extension of the family. It is common for a wa’a to be passed down from generation to generation. Today the wa’a has become a symbol of the Hawaiian Renaissance.
Mike and Marvin started sailing in 1987 and were immediately captivated by the enthralling feelings that emerged after the Hawaiian sailing canoe first race called No Holo Kai. It was after this race they began to establish the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association. In it’s 26th year now, this organization is different than any other. There is a fierce competition between them during the race while on land developing strong bonds of Ohana (family). They explained that should something happen to one of the boats they will always stop to assist if needed.
The years may blur for them but the adventures and stories are never forgotten. This is a special breed of watermen and women. All competitors pushing their limits and pushing each other. There’s no holding back for these crews. They have to be ready physically and mentally for the open ocean. It requires a diverse skill set with each team member playing an integral part. Each must know their part and be able to read the water and weather conditions and adjust accordingly.
Keeping alive the Hawaiian culture and traditions is the reason the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association exists. Playing their part to perpetuate awareness, they refer to the wa’a as simple but extremely meaningful.