Tuesday, May 4, 2010
STEINLAGER KAIWI CHANNEL SOLO OC1 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
April 19th, 2010
There is no explanation to why feeling pain is so good, but I am realizing this feeling is an addiction. Today I woke up sore, tired and extremely happy. This is all because I paddled across the challenging channel between the two hawaiian Islands, Molokai to Oahu. It wasn't my first time, in fact, I lost count how many times I’ve done this crossing, but this was the one I was expecting for so many years. There was plenty of wind, surf and tuff competition making it a fast and extremely fun channel crossing.
Paddling from Molokai to Oahu is a very competitive race among world wide outrigger canoe paddlers. It is a 32 mile course, starting on the West shore of Molokai, Kaluakoi beach, and ending at the south shore of Oahu, Hawai Kai Bay. Each paddler must have their own escort boat to guide, coach and support them across the channel. There are many challenges to be taken when entering this race, one is finishing it. The feeling of arriving to another Island is insane. It brings back history, it makes you feel victorious, it pays back from all the pain after many hours in the open ocean, and it gives appreciation for land. But if the goal is to win the race, the challenges are even more complex; such as taking the fastest route, understand the ocean and its tides, strong currents and condition changes. It is also about being able to paddle smart and as hard as you can for as long as it takes until you get to the finish line. If the gold medal is the goal felling tired is not accepted out there.
I didn't win it, I placed second, but it was still the best one ever. I’ve won this channel before, on flat water condition and little competition in the race, and the satisfaction wasn’t the same. Yesterday the ocean conditions where perfect and I got to race against Lauren Bartlett, the world best outrigger paddler. We are both really good friends and actually paddle for the same canoe team, but when it comes down to racing solo we have to face each other. The forecast was calling for NNE winds and a rising tide, which I expected some really good surfing on the beginning and a possible challenging current pushing away from Oahu. I knew I had to use the surfing as my chance make this into a race.
The race started. I had position myself right next to Louren, because, besides having fun, she was also my goal after all. As always she sprinted down the line, having an amazing start and leaving the women behind. I let her go, focused on my breathing, my technic, and my surfing skills. The fun started. Bump after bump, waves rolled by, the canoe was flying, the ama was light and I was able to connect waves and have amazing rides. Even though my friends from my escort boat tell me I paddled with a mad face expression, I was having a blast. I was living my dream. I was enjoying the moment I waited for, with so many training and organizing for this race. The ocean was moving all over the place, waves going right and left, all I had to do was make good use of the glides. I started using my speed to catch up to the beast. Her line (route) was my line. I knew she had the experience and I trusted where she was going. We both stayed together for a while, surfing bumps, flying our canoes towards Oahu, and racing hard against each other. Helicopter, media boats, and escorts surrounded us turning the moment into a loud, intense and challenging race. A couple of times I surfed some long bumps, passing her, battling to keep my position. At the same time I wanted to win so bad, it was funny to be right next to my friend, seeing her escort boat with also my friends and knowing we are all one big family. We are both moms, wives, and hard workers at our jobs. We trained together back at home, and we both wished we could of trained a lot harder if it wasn’t for the daily life duties. But, there we were, racing each other, crossing the channel and having as much fun as we could have.
After a while battling side by side, Louren started making ground on me, pushing the route to the north. Initially I followed her, keeping my mind and body strong. Minutes later I heard Joscelyn and Sid yelling from my escort boat, “surf it, you have a good line”. An escort boat in this race is more then friends cheering you and giving fluid support, they are your GPS. Our strategy then was to keep our line a little lower then our competition, with the objective of playing with their mind and bring them back to our course, where I was doing well and surfing fast. I kept in mind to not go too south and fall out of my route. For the next hour I had her on my right shoulder point of view and Oahu l right ahead of me. There was another seven miles to go. I had to get there before the expected strong current kills me. At this point on the race I had to focus on my body, keep away the aches and fatigue. That’s when I kept surprising myself how strong I was feeling. Usually, at this time in past channel crossings, I am really suffering, as we say ”hitting the wall”. But I never hit the wall. Waves were still rolling and I made good use of them. We were few miles way from Oahu and I haven't even paddled for 4 hours yet. It felt was fast! We where already there, surfing Oahu’s shoreline, gliding across the China’s mens Wall right outside Hawaii Kay bay. Another mile or two into the bay, battling the offshore wind and the race was finished. The one race I prepared myself so much. I finished.
As I paddle across the finish line my mind is talking to me and my emotions are taking over my soul. This is more then a race. This is a crossing. This is the ocean connection I live for. There is so much involved that I feel like crying - a feeling that I get every single time I finish this crossing. It doesn't matter how many times or which place, it is beyond my words what it feels to simply arrive and reach your goal. As I power my last strokes, I think about my daughter and how she says she is proud her mom, and cries to come along to paddle the channel. I think about my escort boat and my friends who were part of this race just as much as I was. I feel the urge to call every single friend and thank them for all they did for me to make this possible.
My race is done, 32 miles in 4 hours and 22 minutes. Time to flip the page and get ready for the next crossing, two weeks from today, on the the relay channel which I am teaming up with the one beast that just beat me. Then I’ll flip the page again and get ready for the same channel crossing solo on a Stand Up paddle board. Another challenging competition that I’ll have to train hard to prepare myself . When that is done I’ll be getting ready to cross this channel for the 4th time in 5 months on a six-man canoe, with team Bradley, with the goal of holding our title and time record. Basically, crossing from Molokai to Oahu will always be a race and a tough world recognized competition but way beyond that - it is an addiction. What makes my soul come back to the waters of the Kaiwi channel is unexplainable. Preparation is mentally, physically and financially. The benefit is a graceful happiness within myself that will spread positivity to those who surround me.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Andrea was born in Brazil and raised on a small Island called Ilhabela. Growing up on her families Marina, Andrea has been exposed to ocean sports from the time she could walk. She always had her family’s support to be the best competitive athlete that she could be. In Brazil, Andrea was a top medalist in swimming, biking and windsurfing. She moved to Maui in ‘98 to be a professional windsurfer.
As the windsurf competitions faded in the Hawaiian Islands, Andrea fell in love with the Maui lifestyle and dedicated her life to many other water sports.
Today her passion is surfing big waves and paddling outrigger canoe. Andrea started paddling in 1999 to keep herself physically trained for surfing and windsurfing, but eventually decided to take paddling more seriously.
She competes in every outrigger race from one-man to six man-canoe all year round. She’s won many medals and titles as a paddler including Channel crossings like Maui to Molokai, Molokai to Oahu and Tahitian Race Hawaiki Nui Va’a. For the past 3 years Andrea has been a part of Team Bradley, winner of five consecutive Na Wahine O Ke Kai women’s canoe race.
In 2005, Stand up Paddling became another water sport in Andrea’s repertoire. She crossed the Kaiwi channel in 2005 competing among the men. Andrea teamed up with Maria Souza that year and they became the first female stand up team to cross the Molokai to Oahu channel. Andrea is always looking for opportunities to push herself in the ocean, so as SUP was emerging as a new water sport, Andrea continued to break into uncharted territory as a water woman athlete in Hawaii.
Putting all these ocean sports aside, Andrea Moller is a big wave surfer at heart. Charging thirty foot + waves at “Jaws” is at the root of Andrea’s passion, and is the truest expression of her power as an athlete. Today she is dedicated to surfing the biggest waves on Maui. She has been Tow-in surfing Peahi or “Jaws” since 2004 and became the first woman to drive the jet-ski, making rescues in high surf conditions. And even more impressive, Andrea is the only woman to Paddle-in at Jaws.
Andrea Moller’s goal is to take women’s big wave surfing into a different level, pushing the limits of her surfing while excelling as a paddler. She wants to motivate men and women to tap their potential, be a role model to young athletes, and represent the heart and soul of her sports, all the while promoting her sponsors with aloha and professionalism.
Andrea Moller is a rare breed of an athlete: mentally and physically strong, who’s built for the challenges of big wave surfing; but more importantly, Andrea has a heart of gold that’s expressed through her humility and camaraderie with others.
Filmmaking accomplishments include:
“Wave Chasers” by Warren Miller - Discovery/Travel Channel\
Extreme Mom’s - Rebel Media
Neil Pryde Maui
Maui Surfer Girls