Chris Owens Completes Paddle from Oahu to Kauai

posted by / News / August 19, 2005


Chris Owens approaches Nawiliwili on Kauai
At 3:32 pm on Thursday, Aug 18, North Shore paddleboarder Chris Owens made landfall at Kalapaki Beach on Kaua‘i’s south shore, writing himself into history as the second man ever to paddle from O‘ahu to Kaua‘i. True to his prediction that if he could make it through the night, he would make it all the way, Owens completed the 65 nautical mile crossing in 22 hours and 6 minutes on his 17’2” fiberglass paddleboard. This was his second attempt; his first attempt was three months earlier on May 17.

Owens departed from Camp Erdmann in Mokulei‘a on Wednesday afternoon at 5:25 pm. For the first three hours, conditions were promising, with a favorable current and light winds. A red-footed boobie hovered over the boat and landed on the radar bracket, where it remained through the night to watch over Chris’s journey.

As darkness set in, forceful, 20-knot winds stirred up the sea, bringing increasingly big, choppy swells. Owens was forced to fight through unforgiving currents and tumultuous conditions that brought on a four-hour bout of motion sickness, during which he vomited several times. With fierce determination, Owens pressed on, a swath of ocean behind him lit by the full moon.

“This is one of the greatest feats of human endurance I’ve ever witnessed,” says veteran North Shore lifeguard Dave Yester, who accompanied Owens on the Erika Marie escort boat. “I’m in absolute awe. To paddle through that slop the whole night, alone, in the dark? I mean, we were all getting nauseous on the boat.”

Yester was part of a crew of six who helped Chris endure the hours of darkness. Dave made good use of the bullhorn provided by Quiksilveredition Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard Race organizer Mike Takahashi. “Chris Owens, you’ve been paddling for 12 hours. This song is dedicated to you!” he quipped, breaking into the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.”


The morning sun rises on Owens journey
Around 5:00 am, the full moon sunk out of sight and half an hour later, daybreak revealed the horizon. The sunrise was the crucial turning point in the journey. After 35 miles of paddling, Chris could make out the island of Kaua‘i. As he sat alongside the boat to savor his hot chicken noodle soup breakfast, a giant smile crept across his face. With a soft voice, he affirmed, “I’m going to make it.”

“Getting through the night was like overcoming some kind of evil,” Chris expressed with relief as he surveyed the new day. “I knew that it was going to be bad at night. It was the pride in myself and not wanting to lose my dream that kept me going. All those people who’ve helped me out—I didn’t want to let them down.”

For the next nine hours, Owens paddled aggressively, making calculated changes between prone-paddling and knee-paddling, and catching a glide wherever he could. He stayed alert and in good spirits, joking with the crew. At one point, he called out, “It’s on!” as he stood up to surf a wave.

The tenacious paddleboarder surfed a wave on his knees to the beach at Nawiliwili Harbor at 3:32 pm, a couple of hours earlier than he had anticipated. Chris would like to thank his sponsors—Cholo’s, Surf ‘N Sea, Hale‘iwa Joe’s, Da Hui, Hawaiian {{{Soul}}} Surfing, Xcel Wetsuits, Kainoa’s {{{Sports}}} Bar, Stunt Dog Productions, Duke’s on Kauai, Captain Rick Stevens—and all his friends who have supported him. The only other person in history reported to have completed the crossing successfully was Gene “Tarzan” Smith in 1940.


Chris Owens accomplishes something that hadn’t been done since 1940.
Congrats Chris

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