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Chad Kalepa Baybayan, master navigator and Hokule‘a captain, dies at 65

Master navigator (pwo) and Hokule‘a captain Chad Kalepa Baybayan has died, according to his family.

Baybayan, a Kailua-Kona resident and resident navigator at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo, was 65. He had been a crew member of the historic Polynesian Voyaging Society’s double-hulled canoe since 1975, when he was 19.

“Mahalo nui loa to all of our ‘ohana, immediate and extended, for your comforting thoughts of aloha, pule and support from places near and far,” a statement released by Baybayan’s family this morning said. “Thank you also for allowing us this time and space to deal with the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, cousin, uncle and friend to so many. Me ke aloha nui no.”

Baybayan was a proponent of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope project atop Mauna Kea, which drew backlash from some in the Native Hawaiian community.

U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele of Hilo, who represents Hawaii’s second Congressional district, said “it was with great sadness” he received news of Baybayan’s passing.

“Kalepa saw the Hokuleʻa as a symbol of the accomplishments of the Native Hawaiian people in the face of great adversity, and a promise for all that is possible,” Kahele said. Kalepa’s legacy will live on through the thousands of children throughout Hawaii and the world that he inspired to look to the heavens and dream that anything is possible.”

See Saturday’s edition of the Tribune-Herald for a full story.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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