First-ever Hawaii team selected to compete in National Red Bull Flugtag

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For several weeks, a group of friends has been busy in a Kapahulu garage, building a vessel they hope can withstand the flight of a lifetime.

“We built it pretty solid, so hopefully it’s not going to bust when we land,” team member Chris Tseu said.

Other builders have not been as lucky.

For the first time ever, a team from Hawaii has been selected to take part in the human-powered flying competition known as the Red Bull Flugtag.

“We first had to submit our application to Red Bull. They went through their processing, we don’t know exactly what they do. But they processed like over a 1,000 teams,” team member Richard Chan said.

Thirty-two of the most creative teams were selected to try their hand, as brief as it may be, at human flight. Flugtag means, “Flying Day” in German.

“Pretty privileged and honored to do this as a team and represent Hawaii,” team member Takeru Tanabe said.

And what better way to represent Hawaii then with a double-hulled sailing canoe.

“We don’t want to make fun of it, so that’s why we tried to stay true to it. And that’s why we actually built to be somewhat strong. It’s going to look like a scaled down version of Hokulea,” Tseu said.

Tanabe will serve as the team’s pilot.

“Yeah, I’m the lightest so they can push me as far as you can right?” Tanabe said.

Tseu, Chan, and Erik Beattie will push the homemade sailing canoe 90 feet before launching it off a flight deck 30 feet above the water.

“Distance flight, originality, costumes, skit. There’s a whole list of criteria that they’re going to be,” Tseu said.

Tseu says if their 400-pound canoe doesn’t fly, they’re hopeful their craft, which is made up of 55-gallon barrels, will survive the drop so they can paddle away.

“Jumping it is not so bad, but the thing landing on me is probably the scariest part,” Tanabe said.

The event will be held in Long Beach, Calif. on Sept. 21.

In an effort to raise funds to help with building and travel costs, and shipping the canoe to California, the team will host a fundraiser at The Manifest Saturday night.

“Pretty privileged and honored to do this as a team and represent Hawaii,” Tanabe said.

Fundraiser event information:

  • Where: The Manifest, 32 North Hotel Street
  • When: Saturday, Aug. 24 starting at 7 p.m.

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