Legendary Island Paddler Ready to Make New Mark at Molokai Hoe

Joseph "Nappy" Napoleon
Joseph "Nappy" Napoleon
Gilbert Silva
Gilbert Silva

MOLOKAI (KHNL) - An incredible canoe paddling milestone is about to be set, next weekend.

Legendary island paddler, Joseph "Nappy" Napoleon, will make his 50th crossing of the brutal Molokai channel, during this year's "Molokai Hoe" canoe race.

The sun is barely up over Waikiki, and already, the man they call "Nappy" is helping load-up canoes destined for Molokai.

''All I can tell you is I love it," says Nappy. "I love paddling."

This time around, the "molokai hoe" will be significantly different.

On october 7th, the 66 year old will make the grueling 41-mile crossing for the 50th straight year.

Paddling his first race, back in 1958, Nappy remembers it well.

''It was terrific because it was rough," says Nappy. "In fact, we flipped about three times and then we got up again. They always ask me, Nap, what's the best way to go. But, I'm honest to everybody. I don't know the currents. I just go when I get into the canoe."

And when arrives on Waikiki beach, on the 7th, it will have that much more meaning.

Nappy's crew will include his five sons, along with three grandsons.

''For me going be more important than all he canoes that came in because he's a legend," says long time friend, and Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association member, Gilbert Silva. "That's going to be history. Nobody's going to pass Nappy Napoleon. Like Duke Kahamoku in surfing. Nappy Napoleon for paddling."

''Going feel reel good, like I said, paddling with my five sons and three grandsons," reflects Nappy. "Never been done before. So, it's something. It's something.

The 55th annual "Molokai Hoe" is set for Sunday, October 7th.

There will also be a fundraiser banquet to celebrate Nappy's historic 50th crossing.

It's set for October 12th, at the Kapiolani Community College.

Tickets are 50 dollars, each.