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Kawika Kapahulehua

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Elia Kawika David Kuʻualoha 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 Niʻihau, in 1930 and picked up the name "Kawika" as a young adult crewing catamarans on Waikiki Beach.[1]

Major accomplishments[edit]

The famed 1976 voyage of the Hōkūleʻa was beset with problems,[2] but ultimately successful. The goal was to see if a 62-foot-long (19 m), 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.

Later life[edit]

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


  1. ^ Ohira, Rod (May 18, 2007). Voyager was the 'perfect captain.' Honolulu Advertiser
  2. ^ Douglas Martin (3 June 2007). "Kawika Kapahulehua; famed captain sailed from Hawaii to Tahiti". The San Diego Union-Tribune.
  3. ^ Martin, Douglas (May 27, 2007). Kawika Kapahulehua Dies; Hawaiian Seafarer Was 76. New York Times

External links[edit]