Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Exmouth had a presence in last Sunday’s Na Wahine O Ke Kai race, which is a women crew only outrigger canoe race across the notoriously rough Kawai Channel, a 67km stretch of water between the islands of Molokai and Oahu in the Hawaiian Archipelago, and generally regarded as one of the worlds toughest canoe races.
Ali Martineau, who runs Exe Pilates and is a keen rower in the Exmouth Rowing club, was invited to apply for selection to be a member of a GB delegation to enter this race.
The Royal Canoe Club in Henley, the worlds oldest canoe club, was putting a crew together, as there had not been a British entry to this race for 19 years.
Most of the training for the Na Whine O Ke Kai race took part in the sea off Exmouth as it provided good all tide conditions for the inexperienced crew.
Martineau and her fellow crew trained hard for a year before travelling to Hawaii a fortnight before the big race.
There were 68 teams, mostly from various Pacific Islands where outrigger canoeing is very much part of the culture.
The race started and the GB team straight away realized the disadvantage they had by not having the opportunity to train in the large Hawaiian surf conditions, which the local crews were accustomed to and could use to their advantage to accelerate their boats.
The British ladies were, however, determined and in the later stages of the race when the sea conditions were calming down in the lee of the Diamond Head volcano of Oahu, the local crews were beginning to lose their surfing ability advantage, and the sheer strength and endurance of the GB squad showed through as they began to work their way up through the fleet.
They eventually finished the race in a very creditable 40th place having overtaken 28 local boats much to the astonishment of the other teams and race officials, who had never seen a completely novice race crew come anywhere but last!