Finally the whirlwind trip of Kailua-Kona is coming to an end for the Seabass, the team is leaving for Oahu with more memories, souvenirs, and maybe a touch of sunburn to help remind us of this incredible experience that we’ve had the pleasure of being a part of. The last few days have been an absolute blur, the days seemed to pass by faster and faster just as we’re getting into the swing of things. The weekend was packed full of races and recoveries, chilling by the pool and exploring some of the sights that the big island of Hawaii has to offer.

We had our last training session last Friday, which included a lesson from one of the local paddlers, and even a few trips out into the crystal water in his family’s traditional waka. Ira has been mastering the Waka Ama craft over the last 50 years and has an unadulterated passion for sharing his love for the lifestyle that he has. After soaking up the knowledge that Ira could impart onto us, we had the honour of taking his family’s 50 year old waka out for a paddle. Ira was in the steering seat teaching our team about the complexities of reading the water and understanding what we need to put into the boat in order to get the best out of it. Being out there on the transparent water in a traditional waka is definitely a big highlight of the trip for a lot of us, as it allowed us to get a feeling for where it all started off.

Friday evening and Saturday morning was filled with checking and double-checking that everything was in place for the 29km iron paddle that was set to start at 11:45 am. Water packs, gummy bears, and paddles all packed away multiple times to ensure it was all there. Then the 40min car ride up the Hawaiian coastline to the starting point for the Seabass, everyone seemed quite relaxed but quietly buzzing with a mix of anticipation and apprehension for what was set out before us. Walking from the car park into the somewhat organised chaos was amazing, the palm trees reaching out over the turquoise waters were coming right out of the travel agent’s pamphlet. We soaked in the atmosphere in the shade overlooking the bay, then helped the team into their waka around 20mins before the starting gun. Emotions were ranging from pure excitable energy with a splash of nerves, to the stone-faced grit determination. But all 6 of the Seabass clearly had the same goal of going out and making ourselves known on the course amongst the 120 odd boats.

The remainder of us piled back into the cars and made our way back into Kona, where we burnt our feet into permanent jandals patiently waiting to see our team push through the rest of the monster of the race. The crew was met with pure jubilation from the bystanders, and we were all being congratulated by, what seemed like, hundreds of people for taking out 6th place in their category. Sunday morning was relatively similar, with the whole team including Toby Batchelor and Tiwai Wilson (our university assigned babysitters), preparing for the 8km Double Hull race later that day. In which our team did incredibly well, coming in 6th overall!

The following day was one of utter relaxation, with the morning spent having breakfast and chilling by the hotel pool before jumping in the cars to go visit Mauna Kea and the protectors that are based there. As a group we were treated to their tribute to Queen Lili’uokalani, then as a showing of our respect and support for their efforts, the Seabass performed the waiata and haka for the Kupuna who have gathered on Mauna Kea for the last 52 days. Check out our performance here

We all then treated ourselves to a few hours of snorkling at a beach just out of Kona, with a few of us getting substantially pinker and JT annoying a sunbathing seal, it was one of the better ways to end our time in Kona. Next up is a much deserved 4 day holiday for the team in Waikiki!

Written by Joe Scarrow

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