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Artists decorate paddles in Napili Canoe Club benefit

By Staff | Apr 15, 2010

This paddle adorned with koi was painted by Gordon Schmuhl.

WEST MAUI — In 2002, Whale Mania earned $144,000 for island non-profits after expenses, with the help of local artists.

Well, West Maui, the Whale Mania committee has reorganized.

Joining forces with Napili Canoe Club, the winning combo has launched a splashing new fund-raiser, Paddle Mania, and the artists are in the thick of it.

The strong squad of West Side leaders spearheading the charitable campaign includes Carol Elterman, Ellen Fraundorf, Jeanne Gonzales, Marilyn Maulin, Fran Peart Mitsumura, Eugene Tihada, Joey Tihada and Kim Willis.

The drive is a team effort with all the partners working in unison to reach the finish line. Napili Canoe Club members donate used paddles to local artists to embellish, resulting in original works of art put on the block for bid by the public.

Mitsumura explained how the contagious concept for Paddle Mania took shape.

“Eugene Tihada came to see me a few months ago to talk story about a NEW way to raise funds to purchase a canoe for the club for the kids and women. We started talking, and the idea of using the used paddles that club members already have, and give them to local artists to embellish with their artwork, came up.”

Mitsumura went to Whale Mania Co-chairs Fraundorf, Maulin and Willis for help.

Willis expressed the general sentiment of the trio: “Marilyn, Ellen and I were such a great team with Whale Mania. We have been looking for a worthwhile project since then and providing canoes for the Napili Canoe Club is perfect. It is a similar project on a smaller scale with a shorter timeline. Paddling for kids is such a healthy activity, where they learn teamwork and get to enjoy the water and being outside. We believe they are deserving of having proper equipment.”

Eugene Tihada approached Archie Kalepa, and the international, superstar waterman, a fourth generation Lahaina boy, rose to the challenge and joined the cause with a donation of two paddles.

“One is a replica of the paddle he used to paddle 187 miles down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon,” Maulin said.

“It’s a signature model. I’m going to sign it,” Kalepa told the Lahaina News.

The other paddle has special meaning for the Lahainaluna High School 1982 graduate.

“There’s a lot of history to this paddle,” he recalled with fondness.

“It was made by LeVan Keola Sequeira. He made the paddle for me, and this paddle was a magic paddle. It was a steering paddle made for a sailing canoe. The thing was magic; it worked so good it didn’t kick out. Some paddles, they kick out all the time. If you’re a paddler, you know what I am talking about. The paddle stuck to the side of the canoe like glue, in steering terms. I used that paddle for like maybe six years.”

“That paddle has crossed every single channel in the Hawaiian Islands,” the extreme sport enthusiast added. “Some of ’em have been in the gnarliest conditions that I ever been in, and some of ’em was just the perfect sailing conditions.”   

Kalepa’s contributions will join the gallery of 33-plus paddles that will be embellished by local artists.

Maulin recruited participation from the prolific field of local talent.

“We were surprised and absolutely thrilled about how quickly they responded,” Maulin said.

Michael Orr of Hale o Ahi is a veteran Whale Mania participant, and his embellished crustacean sculpture in 2002 took People’s Choice Award, earning $23,000 for the community charities.

He was happy to join the corps and has finished his first charge.

“It’s a mahogany paddle. It’s got a stainless steel water jet cut appliqué on it with two Polynesian tattoo motifs,” he said.

Orr is working on his second paddle. “I feel very positive about this, and I was anxious to participate,” he remarked

“I think it was a wonderful idea for the canoe club to recycle paddles that were actually used in the races and stuff. Give them a little bit of a new lease on life and give them some continued purpose,” Orr added.

Award-winning West Side painter Ronaldo Macedo’s participation was easy to enlist.

“Kids need to be out in nature daily doing healthy activities such as paddling. It teaches them respect for the ocean… from an early age. When paddling in a canoe with others, they develop a better sense of team, working together and team spirit. The sport of paddling doesn’t make money; it depends on contributions and fund-raising to keep them going,” Macedo said.

Mitsumura is enlisting public support.

“Napili Canoe Club has been around since 1976, and one of their main focuses is the kids and family, which I think is great. Plus the Tihada Family has done so much for Maui over the years, and this fund-raiser will give the club the opportunity to touch more lives and be able to compete in more ways than they can now,” she said. “It just doesn’t get any better than that!”

The paddle-art will be on public display from June 1 to Aug. 10 at locations to be determined.

The public “auction and gala event” is slated for Aug. 14. For more information, visit www.napilicanoeclub.com/.