As he prepares for his 7th Moloka’i Hoe, veteran paddler Tevita Moce talks about why this race is so special.

For Tevita, it’s more then a race, it’s replicating the journeys of his ancestors as they travelled across the Pacific.

Please describe how you feel about Moloka’i the race? Why is it important to you?

I remember my very first Moloka’i race in 2008, it was a very emotional moment, and it is to every paddler! So many thoughts entered my mind. The almost sleepless night before the race. Heading to Waikiki, Oahu from Molokai — I had never been Oahu, so in my mind,

“I was replicating the journeys of my ancestors as they travelled across the Pacific armed only with vast experience and knowledge of the water. The use of stars, birds, wave patterns, cloud formations and sheer bravery to guide them as they search for lands in the unknown horizon!”
Camakau Of Fiji — Illustration Credit: Herb Kane

I remember tears of emotions from my mother as I paddled across the Moloka’i channel knowing I would set foot on Oahu, a land where she had went to many years ago. She was invited to perform with a group at the Polynesian Cultural Centre during its grand opening in the late 1950’s or early 60’s.

“It’s a spiritual journey in some way. The ultimate race. The Mecca pilgrimage, if you will. For each paddler, this is an iconic race with a reputation.”

Each paddler does it for different reasons. I’ll be doing for the 7th time in 2017 but my mission now is to share and facilitate this journey and experience with my friends from around the world. The ultimate icing on the cake is actually crossing the Moloka’i in a Koa canoe.

Ho’ola aiming for Diamond Head.

How did your team meet the challenges at Moloka’i in preparation and during the race?

My crews in the past have been guys from different parts of the world, Brazil, Germany, Australia, parts of California and a few from Hawaii. We keep in constant communication via Facebook, we mostly train on our own and update each other on our training, trade ideas on nutrition, supplements, etc. We come together a few days before the race to bond, get some water time together and then we go for it! We’ve been dubbed the “Facebook Crew” by the race officials, but at the end of the race we are lifetime friends. That’s what this experience rewards you with.

“The brotherhood of shared experience through outrigger paddling. It’s an amazing and beautiful thing. So much culture of aloha that goes with it.”

What was the experience like in the crew?

It is an incredibly rewarding experience to see your friends, paddlers who come from different parts of the world, to share the wa’a together. The one common goal is to have each others backs while we cross the treacherous Kaiwi Channel (pron: ka-ee-vee)together on this journey. Incredible friendships forged out of that, and it is a privilege, paddling the traditional canoe made of the rare Koa wood. The canoe was built in 1953. There is so much to soak in and treasure for a lifetime. And off course the bragging right that you have done it! To cross the open ocean in a 42 mile race from one island to the another! It is the Olympics of outrigger canoe paddling.

How did it help you in your life having completed a Moloka’i race?

The Molokai race is much a mental strength thing as a physical thing. You reach a point during the race, when they say “you then see God!” You are exhausted, the swells can be huge, you are tired, you get cramps. That is when you reach deep inside yourself to pull out all your reserves. You then find the real you. That experience you will carry on the rest of your life. When the going gets tough, these are the experiences in life that you draw on to encourage yourself, to spur yourself on. It’s more than an adreline rush, it goes on in life with you.

Bonding time with Ho’ola (Breath of New Life) … Born: 1953

What was your training program like? Was it enough for the race?

I do a some gym work for physical strength, swim a lot and some endurance work. But mostly paddle, paddle, paddle whenever I get the chance. I do lots of long distance races. You can never train enough for Moloka’i. There is so much to consider, to balance training with your nutrition, and mentally preparation for this 42 mile race.

What did you have to sacrifice in your life to be able to compete and do the race?

Time to train, and my finances. To train, and compete in races all over the place involves time and a lot of money.

We did it — with Heiko Bütehorn, Isaac Adolpho,Cyril Derreumaux, Rafael Cypriano, Chris Hill andRoman Kristl in Kaunakakai, Hawaii.
Tevita with Uncle Bobby and Rafael Cypriano in Kaunakakai, Hawaii.

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