LAHAINA - The 2014 Maui County Hawaiian Canoe Association inshore regatta season took off two weeks ago with the Moki Kalanikau Regatta at Ka Lae Pohaku beach park in Kihei, opening what promises to be another exciting series of race events for the eight Valley Isle clubs.
The summer's MCHCA season holds special incentive for the three West Side clubs - Lahaina, Kahana and Napili - as three of the seven regattas will take place at Hanakao'o Beach Park (Canoe Beach) in their home waters.
Last week, Lahaina Canoe Club hosted the Keiki O Maui races. On July 12, Napili Canoe Club will sponsor the Dougie Tihada Memorial Regatta, and on July 19, the inshore season will climax with the MCHCA Championships hosted by the green and purple of Kahana Canoe Club.
Lahaina Canoe Club is dedicated to working hard and having fun this summer. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAHAINA CANOE CLUB.
In that kickoff event in South Maui on May 31, Lahaina struggled to keep up with their neighboring clubs and the powerhouses from Hawaiian and Kihei.
The Orange and Black were able to score eight points to fall far behind the leaders, as well as Kahana in fourth place and Napili in fifth. But club president and coach Michael Rains remains optimistic in saying, "We've got a lot of young and energetic members that are working hard every day to get better, and to grow and improve. We might not be a large club, but we are dedicated to working hard and having fun while doing it."
Rains is joined on the LCC board of directors by Vice President Jamie Balingit, Secretaries Chelsea Trimper and Monica Theobald and Treasurer Aviva Libitsky, and on the coaching staff by Kapenaokekai Bugarin, Wahipa'a Balingit and Josh Coston.
Napili Canoe Club's hale fronts the beach next door to Lahaina. Once again led by longtime paddling and club leaders Jeannie Gonzales and Joey Tihada, the Black and Yellow continues to battle in what has become a good-natured "family feud" with neighboring Kahana and the relatives and friends that make up the rosters of both clubs.
Gonzales, the club president, reported that Napili has some 160 active members for the 2014 season. NCC will be guided by a board of directors that includes Vice President Theresa Marzan, Secretary Carol Elterman and head coach Tihada.
The NCC adult crews are coached by Daniel Tancayo, Kona Maielua and Wendy Gerry, while Nori Tihada is the lead mentor for the keiki paddlers along with Eugene Tihada, Manny Portables, Tita Tancayo and Danae Marin.
"We're off to a busy but good start for the season, and we had a fun time with the Will Smith Safety Day Fundraiser," Gonzales said.
On the mauka side of the LCC Hale is Kahana's home quarters. The club is led by canoe paddling veteran Cameron Jacome in the president's chair, and he is assisted this year by Vice President Danielle Kuck, Secretary Cynthia Conrad and Treasurer Allison Johnson.
Jacome leads a coaching staff made up of Jim Kohler, Mikey Montayo, Dale Angel and Walter Delos Reyes for the adults, with Colin Delos Reyes and Michael "Scary" Garvin serving as mentors for the keiki crews.
After the MCHCA Championship meet, all three clubs will send their qualified crews - usually the 46 event champs and the runner-ups - to the state event to be held on Oahu, most likely at Keehi Lagoon, on Aug. 2.
The inshore regatta season will be followed by the long distance events highlighted by Na Wahine O Ke Kai on Sept. 21 and Molokai Hoe on Oct. 12, the women's and men's races across the Kaiwi Channel from Molokai to Oahu over a distance of 35 miles. These races will be followed by the Maui Nui races, a three-day event from Maliko Bay, Maui; to Molokai; to Hulopoe Bay, Lanai; to the finish at Canoe Beach in Lahaina, sponsored by Kahana Canoe Club. This race will cover over 100 miles and take place from Oct. 17-19.