LAHAINA - For Napili Canoe Club, the youth movement has brought home the gold.
Led by another supreme effort from the defending Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association state champion 12 Mixed crew of Victoria Decoite-Wilsey, Keala Cabanilla, Kauanoe Keahi, Kaleo Nuesca, Aukai Kama and Ikaika Viela, Napili Canoe Club stroked its way to the class "A" championship for six entries or less two weeks ago at Hanalei Bay, Kauai.
"It was a beautiful day and an awesome experience for all of us," beamed NCC President Jeanne Gonzales.
Napili Canoe Club’s keiki paddlers earned the A Division title at the recent Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association state regatta.
"We took 30 kids over, and they all did well to bring in points for the club... special thanks to all the coaches that went, including Joey Tihada, Rayleen Kama, Uncle Eugene Tihada, Danae Marin and Manny Portabes."
In winning the A Division, Napili racked up 51 points to edge Kawaihae, which finished the long day with 50 points.
After the 12 Mixed crew's victory, the 12 Girls - Decoite-Wilsey, Kamahie Baricuatro, Keala Cabanilla, Kalei Ii-Kahahane, Alexia Plaza, Kaohu Palakiko, Kekai Keo and Noe Keahi - took fifth place to start the points parade that would lead Napili to the title.
Next up were the 14 Girls with the lineup of Tavi Viela, Kiana Nakoa, Andilyn Alavazo, Lina Criste, Ii-Kahahane, Keahi, Ola Medeiros, Gabby Miyamoto and Kelsi Badua that finished in fifth place.
Next came the 15 Girls to finish in 12th with a crew of Courtney Ruidas, Christy Ruidas, Kehau Brown, Alavazo, Criste, Kyla Blando Kahaialii and Kapu Jaramillo, and the 16 Girls in 11th with the crew of Courtney Ruidas, Brown, Kaliko Pasco-Dusenberry, Kalei Steele, Blando-Kahaialii and Kalena Shim.
The 12 Boys finished in sixth place led by Aukai Kama, David Coulombe, Kaleo Nuesca, Viela, Ikua Tihada, Kila Vierra, Kupaa Castro and Treven Tihada.
"The kids worked hard all season long," said head coach Joey Tihada.
"I think we did the best that we are capable of, and it was a total team effort with everyone giving 110 percent. I hope everyone feels good inside, and my thanks goes out to our coaches, who had the kids ready to go.
"It's been a really successful season, and we send our mahalo to all of the board members, the parents and the coaches for working together with the club in our minds as our inspiration."