Maui Arts & Entertainment

YETI films profile Maui waterwoman, outdoor individuals enduring extremes

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A 270-mile kayak river race in an area with snakes and alligators might give pause to many outdoors people, but then, you’re not Hawaii waterwoman Lauren Spalding. A YETI film profiling her and other extreme outdoors persons will be shown at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center Thursday.

Hawaiʻi waterwoman Lauren Spalding is among several extraordinary sports people featured in a national film tour about extreme outdoor lifestyles.

Spalding, a Kula resident, has been a winner in numerous water races in the world.

The film, on an 11-city tour will be shown at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center Thursday, May 19, at 7 p.m.

Winning requires more than endurance and technique, especially in the ocean where paddlers have to understand and adjust to the wind, currents and surf and use the elements to their advantage.


She’s a 12-time winner in the 41-mile Molokaʻi-Oʻahu solo female outrigger race, three-time winner of the Molokaʻi Surfski Championship, and first place winner in the K-4 500 meter race at the 2004 Pan American Games.

She also was a semi-finalist in the K-2 and K-4 in the 2004 Olympics summer games. Her Team Bradley, competing in a six-woman canoe over 26-miles of ocean, has won the Molokaʻi-to-Oʻahu race about a dozen times.

In the short film “River Pirates,” produced by the sports equipment company YETI Films, Spalding ventures through the wilds of the Guadalupe River in Texas from its source to San Antonio Bay.

It’s 270-miles of paddling and sometimes carrying the kayak day and night. Toss in snakes and alligators as part of the obstacle course.


No, this is not an Olympic-sanctioned sport. Winner gets a trophy and bragging rights for a year.

“When I heard about it it sounded like so crazy I wanted to do it,” Spalding said. “I wanted to do it, to try it. It just sounded so terrible.”

Spalding called her paddling teammate J.T. Van Zandt II a “River Pirate,” stealing the darkness out of the night wilderness with good sense of direction. He had done the race several times.

“At night you don’t have a good lay of the land,” she said. “It was all the emotions. It was challenging. It was beautiful. There were parts that were unnerving. There’s no racing like it.”


YETI Films seems to show there also are no others like the ones featured in this film. It’s a tribute to the outdoor life and work.

Other profiles include a woman who like her father became a lobster boat captain, a storm chaser who shares a real behind-the-scenes at the look at his job, and Hawaiʻi big-wave rider Emi Erickson who takes on the legendary surf of Maui’s Jaws.

Ticket purchases can only be made online at .

The MACC Box Office windows are currently closed for window sales but open for pre-show, will-call tickets pick up only. But use of the print-at-home ticketing is recommended. The MACC Box Office is accessible for inquiries only via email at [email protected] or phone at 808-242-SHOW, Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For film tour information, go to

For a weekly listing of Maui music and other events, go to Maui Entertainment, Arts, Community, May 12-May 18 and click here.

Gary Kubota
Gary Kubota, an associate writer with, has worked as a staff news writer with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and The Maui News. He lives on Maui. He’s also been an editor/business manager with the Lahaina News. He’s received national and regional journalism awards — a National Press Club Citation of Merit and Walter Cronkite Best In The West, among them.
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