Hawaiian Sailing Legend Teaches Young Sailors

Genny Tulloch
Genny Tulloch
Nainoa Thompson
Nainoa Thompson

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The dream of sailing in Hawaii has come true for a group of young, mainland sailors. And they're learning from one of Hawaii's sailing legends.

Out of about 550 applicants, 15 were chosen to become Morning Light sailors.  They're getting ready for a major voyage.  But today, they're sailing on the Hokule'a under the watchful guidance of master navigator Nainoa Thompson.

Genny Tulloch is on the verge of making history.  She is among a group of sailors who could become the youngest crew to navigate a transpacific voyage.  For Tulloch, her love of sailing started with her great grandfather.

"He ran away to the sea when he was twelve," said Tulloch. "So, it runs in my veins."

Tulloch's dad introduced her to sailing even before she could walk.

"I got in the boat probably first when I was still a baby in a crib," said Tulloch. "There's pictures of me on boats."

She began sailing alone when she was only six-years-old. And it's been a love affair ever since.

"I've loved the windiest days, the scariest days. I'm that person that wants to go when it's really gnarly out," she said.

Tulloch and her crew members are in Hawai'i to learn from sailing legend Nainoa Thompson.

"I want them to understand how special Hawaii is -- its environment, its culture, its community," said Thompson, who, in 1980, became the first Hawaiian in more than 500 years to navigate a canoe to and from Tahiti using only natural navigation.

"He's got such a passion for Hokule'a, and for voyaging and for everything Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian history is.  And it was really wonderful to see him impart that to us," said Tulloch.

Tulloch said her great-grandfather is probably smiling from heaven.

"I can't imagine my grandfather looking down at his great granddaughter and just seeing that the lifestyle he love is something I've honored and treasured and try to make part of my life," she said.

And Thompson said the lessons from sailing go beyond the waters.

"If you have a dream, believe in it," he said. "Recognize that it's worth it to take the path, but keep understanding that dream, that destination, is not about reaching the destination, it's about the journey."

The crew range in ages from 17 to 22.  They plan to sail from Long Beach to Diamond Head next summer, which would put them in the record books. Walt Disney's nephew Roy is sponsoring this project.