Kawika Kapahulehua

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Kawika Kapahulehua.jpg

Elia Kawika David Ku'ualoha Kapahulehua (July 13, 1930 – May 17, 2007) was a Hawaiian sailor who was the first to captain an ocean-voyaging canoe from Hawaii to Tahiti in modern times.

Kapahulehua was born on Ni'ihau, in 1930 and picked up the name "Kawika" as a young adult crewing catamarans on Waikiki Beach.[1]

The famed 1976 voyage of the Hokule'a was beset with problems,[2] but ultimately successful. The goal was to see if a 62-foot-long, two-masted canoe that approximated ancient canoes could be sailed without navigational equipment on the 2,250-nautical-mile (4,170 km) journey. While navigator Mau Piailug guided the ship, Kapahulehua had to deal with 6 of 17 crew members who quit their duties at sea.

A 1978 attempt in which he did not participate capsized after six hours and led to the death of surfer Eddie Aikau.

In later life, he taught the Hawaiian language, wrote vocabulary books, and officiated at traditional Hawaiian rites. Kapahulehua died in Honolulu, Hawaii.[3]

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