If you read my blog last week, you know that I am on my way to the Moloka'i Hoe Outrigger Race.
It turns out I’ll be riding with Luke Evslin again. My buddies from the Westside of Oahu will be steered by Luke, one of the founders of Kamanu Composites. This will be my second chance to watch this talented steerer work.
In 2015 I was invited to ride with Kaua’i Wa’a. I knew Luke, but none of the others on the crew. 4 ½ hours into the race we were on the rhumb line to Diamond Head. Racing across the Kaiwi Channel in the top 10 is a lonely place. Ninety something canoes are behind you and a bunch of Tahitians are in front of you. It’s a big ocean and you gauge your position by trying to figure out the identity of crews off in the distance and looking for the helicopter hovering over Shell Va’a. During the race some crews head North, some south, and some straight for Diamond Head on the rhumb line. Off Diamond Head is where the canoes converge, and though I didn’t know it, the “Competition” was 200 yards dead ahead.
I thought the race was a done deal. The guys would be content to coast in where they stood. But as the paddlers climbed on the escort, I overheard them talking. “You know, Luke would really like to beat those guys.” On the next change I heard the same conversation. There was no yelling or fist pumping, but the effort intensified, and they began making up ground. The men were paddling their guts out for their steerer. In the end, Kaua’i Wa’a needed the race to be a few yards longer to make the pass, 5 seconds the margin. But for me it didn’t matter. What I realized was Luke’s men loved him, and if I knew nothing else about him, this was all I needed to know to respect him as a great steerer.
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