Hawaiian Canoe and Other Water Racing

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Canoe Racing

21. Hei-hei-waa - Canoe Racing

[Page 211] Two or more canoes race, usually out to sea, the course being a mile or a mile and a half out and around a flag buoy and return. The canoes are propelled with kapa sails.

Ellis1 speaks of Tahiti canoe-racing, faatitiaihe-mo raa vaa, as "occasionally practiced on the smooth waters of the ocean, within the reefs."

J. Stanley Gardiner2 relates that in Rotuma:

"canoe-sailing was carried on, especially on the occasions of certain big feasts in connection with the sou. The canoes employed were the small ones, the tavane, with mat sails. In each canoe only one man sailed, and the different districts would contest the prize with ten, twenty, or even more representatives. There were also commonly canoe-races for the women. The course was always inside the reef, and much fun was caused by the constant capsizing of the canoes."

1 Vol. 1, p. 210. 2 Journal Anthropological Institute, Vol. XXVII, p. 486.

22. Hei-hei-ka-pu - Tub Racing

[Page 212] Tubs for racing are made out of casks cut in halves, and propelled with the hands. Andrews gives ka-pu-wai, from ka-pu, "place," and wai, "water," a bathing tub.

20. Hei-hei-au- Swimming Race

[Page 211] Men and boys play, either in fun or for a prize of food or money.

37. Au-waa-lau-ki - Leaf-Canoes

[Page 219] Children fold up ki (Dracena terminalis) leaves and sail them (Andrews). The name is derived from au-waa, a fleet, and lau-ki, the leaf of the ki plant.

Ellis1 describes Tahitian children constructing small canoes boats, or ships, and floating them in the sea. "Although they are rude in appearance," he says, " and soon destroyed, many of the boys display uncommon ingenuity in constructing this kind of toy. The hull is usually made with a piece of light wood of the hibiscus, the cordage of bark, and the sails either of the leaflets of the cocoanut, or the native cloth. They usually fix a stone to the bottom of the little barks, which keeps them upright."

1. Vol. I, p. 227.

Last update February 3, 2010