By Clare Seeger Mawae
Ten-year-old Molokai paddler Alex Mawae had quite the week of races in early May.
In April, Alex found out just days prior to the Maui-to-Molokai race that the ruling majority would not let him race due to his age. This was a step back in accomplishing his goals, but Alex gained an understanding for how the rules work.
One week later he was given the green light to paddle the Kaiwi Channel in the OC2 (two-person ocean canoe) relay division on May 5. Kaiwi was not the typical downwind run for 2013. It presented the worst conditions in the history of the race with 20 mph southwest winds. Because of these conditions, his team was among 20 boats that were told to paddle to Hawaii Kai and not finish at Magic Island. Still, he had a big smile on his face after crossing the channel to Oahu.
The following week was the race Alex dreams about all year, the Olukai on Maui. On Saturday was an 8.5-mile stand-up paddling downwinder and an OC1 race on Sunday. Alex succeeded with both disciplines and perhaps the triumph of the weekend was racing an OC1 on Sunday with little visibility, rain and fairly good size surf at the finish.
He did well in both events, finishing in the middle of the pack on Saturday and not close to last on Sunday. Alex was certainly the youngest competitor to compete in both events. His times were respectable: 1 hour, 33 minutes and 1:35 for an 8.5-mile race in little wind.
This article will hopefully inspire other young Molokai paddlers out there and show them that anything is possible with determination and will. Looking back on the last few years of Alex’s paddling career, one has to smile at his first deep water runs with fear of the ocean. No matter, he learned how to overcome that fear and replace it with respect. Even the times he became seasick while paddling did not deter this young man from his goals and ambitions.
Alex is really no different than any other kid. He learned step-by-step to overcome fear, respect the elements and understand his will, determination and goals in life. This is what the ocean has done for him. Alex is in hopes that more young Molokai paddlers will be paddling alongside him in the not too distant future.
If Alex can do this so can any one else.