During this year’s Moloka’i Hoe I had the best seat at the show and the performance left me speechless. I was riding on Lanikai’s escort boat - the fastest outrigger crew in the world that did not have a Tahitian paddler on the team.
For 99.9% of paddlers, Lanikai Canoe Club will beat you down so bad you’ll want to quit paddling and take up Pickleball. Third in last year’s Molokai Hoe, the men were eager to face off with Tahitians again. But optimism was short lived as Shell Va’a powered away from the field before the race field cleared Molokai’s La’au Point. The race winner was crowned in the first 30 minutes of the race, the remaining 4 hours a victory lap. I witnessed first-hand the dominance of French Polynesia, a nation with a population less than the city of Honolulu.
What makes the Tahitians so good at paddling? I think it is where they come from. The knee jerk explanation to the dominance is that the Tahitian paddlers are on the juice. Dumbfounded with what I witnessed during the race, this was my initial emotional response. But I’m not a conspiracy theorist and in the days that followed I found it unlikely that six crews of Tahitians were on performance enhancing drugs. Abuse on this level would reek of a State run Russian Olympic drug scandal.
In the world of athletics, we do see dominance of certain sports from different geographic locations. Norway, a tiny country of 5.2 million, dominates Olympic skiing https://bit.ly/2HFTRnO. Kenya dominates distance running https://n.pr/2kz0aQa. Studied through Sport Science, the performance of the Norwegians and Kenyans remains unexplained and unreplicated. I believe that some of these same principles apply to the the Tahitians and that they are participating within the boundaries of fair play. Whether it is their training, genetics or culture, they are the best because they are, who they are.
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