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Determined women led the way across Molokai Channel

  • COURTESY CINDY LUIS
                                Amy Best Crews, left, and Carleen Ornellas were proponents of women holding their own Molokai-to-Oahu crossing. Their persistence helped bring on Na Wahine O Ke Kai. Ornellas was part of a “test run” in 1975 in which 18 women on two teams accomplished the feat just to prove that it could be done.

    COURTESY CINDY LUIS

    Amy Best Crews, left, and Carleen Ornellas were proponents of women holding their own Molokai-to-Oahu crossing. Their persistence helped bring on Na Wahine O Ke Kai. Ornellas was part of a “test run” in 1975 in which 18 women on two teams accomplished the feat just to prove that it could be done.

  • Newspaper accounts detailed the first Na Wahine O Ke Kai on Oct. 14, 1979.

    Newspaper accounts detailed the first Na Wahine O Ke Kai on Oct. 14, 1979.

  • COURTESY AMY BEST CREWS
                                The official flag was flown by all crews’ escort boats during the 1979 race.

    COURTESY AMY BEST CREWS

    The official flag was flown by all crews’ escort boats during the 1979 race.

Why? Why not? It wasn’t so much a question of if women could do it, but more a question of when. Na Wahine O Ke Kai, the women’s outrigger canoe race between Molokai and Oahu, had long been the dream of female paddlers, serious discussions beginning in 1954, just two years after the men’s inaugural Molokai Hoe. Read more

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