Daddy’s Little Girl Takes On Kaiwi

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - May 19, 2010
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(from left) Keao Meyer, Tatiana Meyer, Tatjana Perrin and Darren Orr

It’s funny how life often comes full circle.

Keao Meyer recently came to that realization in the Pacific Ocean while watching his 16-year-old daughter Tatiana power through physical and mental pain. Daddy’s little girl was growing up right before his eyes.

“I kept telling her, ‘Tati, pull Oahu closer to you, keep pulling,’” says Meyer. “I was so proud of her. We were crossing the channel together as father and daughter.”

It was the young teenager’s dream to cross the Kaiwi Channel with her dad in a two-man canoe, something she set her sights on when she was only 8. She recalls asking her dad then when would she be old enough to make the journey in a race.

“My dad told me I had to be 16 to compete in the Kaiwi Channel relays, so when I turned 15 last year I reminded him,” says Tatiana.


 

“Tati kept saying this is what I want for my sweet 16 birthday,” laughs Meyer.

He laughs because he too shared a similar vision when he was 8, and like his daughter, his dream came true when he was 16.

“Growing up, I wanted to do what my dad did, and when I turned 16 he snuck me in the Molokai crew,” says Meyer. “He steered and I stroked, and that race helped shape my character. He taught me how to have a strong mind and a strong heart.”

The 40-year-old Meyer has since crossed the Kaiwi numerous times, but his latest trek was personal. Besides taking him back more than 24 years, he knew he was helping his daughter fulfill a dream. Tears flow when talks about “her character” that surfaced four hours into the 41-mile race from Molokai to Oahu.

“I was watching to see if her mind or body was going to break but she never stopped,” he beams. “It gives me goose bumps thinking about it. It reminds me of seeing your child on training wheels and then all of a sudden she’s on her own.”

The Meyers teamed up with Darren Orr and 15-year-old Tatjana Perrin. Together the foursome finished third in their O-C 2 division. The memorable race was even sweeter for the two Kamehameha classmates who are also best of friends. Perrin is one of the best kayakers in the nation and recently made the U.S. Kayak Junior National Team.

“To do this with my dad was huge, to have my friend with me made it even more special,” says Tatiana.

After battling together as father and daughter for several hours, Meyer suggested the two girls finish together.

“When we hit the finish line, I told her, ‘Oh my gosh, we just crossed the channel,’” says an excited Tatiana. “Not too many teenagers can say they did that.”

Meyer says his tears flowed as he watched his daughter fight her way to the finish line. The image hit him like a sledgehammer. His little girl was a young woman.

“I was crying out there because it was such an emotional thing,” reflects Meyer. “It was like letting go but still experiencing it together. How many fathers and daughters had that experience in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? I will never forget that day.”

Keao Meyer knows there are other fathers and daughters who share similar relationships and goals. He hopes his story will inspire others to “go for it.”


“When we crossed the finish line, I cried even more when she told me, ‘Dad, I love you,’” says an emotional Meyer. “These young women in this world today are amazing, and if they can accomplish something like this, they can accomplish anything.”

Says Tatiana, “My dad is my coach, my idol and my best friend, and I wouldn’t want to do my first channel with anybody else.”

The young woman will always be daddy’s little girl.

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