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A Trip of Many Firsts

2016-10-05 20:01:58

By Jess Rocheleau

Carter and Jess

Back in December, my best friend Carter made the decision to take on the The Channel of Bones paddle race for the second time. The race is 32 miles long between the Hawaiian islands of Molokai and Oahu and is so intense that most would call it an act of a ‘Crazy Person’. Being in a place I have never been before with a race atmosphere that is all new to me, not going along to support was NOT going to be an option.

Life wouldn’t be life if there weren’t obstacles to leap, hop, and jump over. Things happen. They make you vulnerable at times but can also make you stronger knowing you were fully capable of overcoming it all. In short, it is a process.

Looking back at the trip now and reflecting on the experience as a whole it was one of the most inspiring and motivating trips/vacations yet. The past few months have been quite the obstacle course and couldn’t have been done without a solid support system. We made the trip happen and I am so glad we did so I could give Carter the support system she deserved and be able to look back now on all we have accomplished.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work on Team #NoDrama

Reminiscing on the experience gives me goose bumps.

First...without Will ( Carter’s Coach/ Third member of Team #NoDrama) this whole trip would have been nearly impossible. He was/is our rock and the definition of #nodrama. He took charge of all the logistics to make the trip happen and we are so thankful to have him. Thanks to him we were welcomed into the paddling community with open arms. Will, you are the bomb.com and for the millionth time, many Maholo’s.

Will and I joined Carter on this trip to support her before, during, and after the race. We made it a point to make it more about her because this was her time to shine and the amount of logistics, planning, and moral support needed for a race like this is much too overwhelming to face alone.

Being injured on the trip, I was unable to take advantages of all the hikes, running trails, and other activities. But, it was exactly what Carter and I needed. I was there to fully morally support her and it allowed me time to relax and heal which was exactly what my body needed. It’s funny how things work out- this trip couldn’t have happened at a more perfect time.

Molokai

Molokai

This island is a very special, magical place. I could feel it as soon as we landed. As one of the more undeveloped islands, the beauty of the contrast between the ocean and vibrant green palm trees was jaw dropping and heart stopping.There is one small community of condos built directly behind the shoreline where the Molokai to Oahu paddle would be begin. It was as if we were in a little Hawaiian Olympic paddle village surrounded by the world’s best paddlers. Not only were these people high-caliber athletes, but some of the most inspiring, hard working, driven, open-minded personalities I have ever come across. I was on cloud 9 being surrounded by these people and will cherish the time I was able to spend with them.

The water was salty, crystal clear, aqua, turquoise… EVERY shade of blue. It was mesmerizing. The temperature was the perfect balance between waking the body up and relaxing it immediately upon entering it. Just magical.

As the sun set the night before the race, a meeting was held followed by a dinner to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the race. I could sense the anticipation,excitement, and nerves as race directors spoke of the history of the race and were introduced to the legends who were the pioneers of the channel crossing. Everyone was so amped up and the energy had me wanting to jump on a board myself and paddle the race cold turkey.

The Race

Each race participant requires a support boat. Between the day we arrived and the morning before the race about 200 boats anchored in the area just off the shoreline. It was an amazing sight to see.

The conditions were intense! We passed through a tropical storm which created wind, rain, and swells of 6-10 feet in the middle of the ocean.

During the race, I was the swimmer. My job required me to jump into the channel and provide water and nutrition to Carter throughout the 6 and half hour journey to Oahu. Jumping into the vast blue sea was terrifying yet so peaceful. I would time my jump so I could throw myself into the swell as it leveled off with the boat. I would jump as high and as far as I could with my one fin on along with a full water bottle and either a gel or bar in hand and made my way to Carter as fast and efficiently as possible. Opening my eyes under the water felt as if I was in a dream...a royal blue dream. It was out of this world!

More Than a Race

The emotions I witnessed Carter go through throughout those 6 hours hit me hard. Knowing what she was paddling for and that she had every intention to leave it ALL in the channel plus what she was overcoming as a person and everything that we have faced together in the months before the race brought tears to my eyes.

Being on the boat and witnessing the courageous souls who embark on this journey allowed me to understand for the first time how amazing this race truly is. The channel crossing is more than a race… it’s a life changing experience.

We are stronger and more motivated than ever and focusing that into what we do best….and that is THRIVE.

♥ Thrive On,
Jess

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A natural leader, Jessica Rocheleau was named Women’s Team Captain of her collegiate swim team at Nova Southeastern University where she graduated with a BA in Exercise Science and a minor in Business. She is currently an Age Group coach for Coronado Navy Swim Association while also serving as a veteran lifeguard for the Coronado Lifesaving Association and a member of the RIDE Triathlon Team. Her dedication to developing herself as a leader have allowed her to be as successful as she has been in athletics. Her passion for athletics, insatiable desire for success as a triathlete, and desire to share and promote healthy and active lifestyles is channeled through her site Live Your Masterpiece.

Jess Rocheleau


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