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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, September 14, 2007

Pure Light completes its goal

 •  Women relish chance for race of their own

Advertiser Staff

The historic paddling run by the Pure Light Racing Team was a success two weeks ago at Kailua, Kona.

Pure Light competed and completed in the Queen Li-li'uokalani Long-Distance Races during Labor Day weekend.

The Pure Light crew featured six physically challenged paddlers and three able-bodied paddlers. They are the first team with a majority of physically challenged paddlers to complete a long-distance canoe race.

"I was kind of scared at first because of the distance," said Joe Broc, one of the physically challenged paddlers. "But I told myself just relax and don't over-do it and that's what we did for the whole race."

Pure Light completed the 18-mile course from Honaunau to Kailua Bay in just under 2 hours, 45 minutes.

The "adaptive" paddlers performed open ocean changes throughout the course, meaning they climbed in and out of the moving canoe.

"Some of us needed more help than others, but we all did it," Broc said. "I'd say we were changing every 30 to 45 minutes."

For safety purposes, the Pure Light team was allowed to use a personal watercraft to help transport the paddlers to and from the escort boat.

The six adaptive paddlers were Broc, Christine Greer, John Greer, Richard Julian, Francean McClain and Dawna Zane. The three able-bodied paddlers were Aka Hemmings, Al Konishi and Sam Plunkett.

Hemmings is the coach and organizer of the Pure Light team.

Hemmings steered the canoe for most of the course, but he allowed the six adaptive paddlers to finish the final mile by themselves.

"That was a great experience," Broc said. "And there were a lot of people cheering for us at the finish line, so that was a good feeling."