LAHAINA - Established in 1971, Lahaina is the West Side's oldest canoe club and, despite being one of Maui's smallest hales, last year was a successful season for the team in orange.
After taking their Novice A Men and Master Men (40) crews to the 2010 Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association (HCRA) State Championships at Keehi Lagoon on Oahu, and winning silver and bronze, respectively, LCC built on these successes in home waters in 2011.
The Novice A Men and the Master Men crews qualified for states again, with the Men's 40 (Geoff Bogar, Bear Keahi, Alan Kuiper, Spud Lenhardt, Adam Quinn and Mark Shimer) winning gold and the title of state champions at Hanakao'o Beach.
Lahaina Canoe Club President Michael Rains (second from left) coaches keiki paddlers.
Lahaina finished last season with a points tally of 125 - three fewer than the previous year but a huge jump when compared to a season total of just 12 points three years ago.
LCC President Michael Rains said he has high hopes for the season ahead.
"We are moving forwards as a club and getting more involved with our community and the Hawaiian culture," he said.
"Racing at regattas is fun, and we will train hard and keep putting as many crews out there as we can, but winning is not the reason we get into a canoe - it's just a bonus.
"Instead, we need to understand where we are coming from and pay respect to the culture that allows us to participate in this amazing sport," he continued.
"That's why we're making a conscious effort to give back to the community, and in doing that, we'll continue to see our club grow and perhaps win more medals along the way."
For the 2012 season, Lahaina has almost 50 registered paddlers. The club's keiki and women have an added bonus of a new boat this year. The orange and black, tiger-striped Bradley Encore, donated to the club by the Makana Aloha Foundation, is specifically designed for women and keiki to use.
The Master Men are taking a break from the regatta season and are instead focusing on a trip to New York to represent Lahaina and take part in the Liberty Challenge Race to be hosted by New York Outrigger on June 23.
Lahaina has a bye this year and will not host a regatta, but after hosting the 32nd annual Restaurant Races and plenty of preseason fundraising, they have put down a deposit on a Bradley Lightning Men's racing canoe to bolster the men's training program next season.
During the summer months, LCC will continue to raise money for their keiki by hosting a food booth in partnership with Betty's Beach Cafe at Lahaina's Second Friday town parties, with more fundraising set to start up this fall.
The club will also return to Honokowai Valley on June 30 for Malama Honokowai, a project dedicated to restoration and reforestation. For more information, visit www.mauiculturallands.org/index.html.
For anyone who would like more information about Lahaina Canoe
Club and how to join, e-mail BOD2012@lahainacanoeclub.net.