West Side crews qualify for state regatta
LAHAINA — There are a lot of smiles on the faces of Lahaina, Kahana and Napili Canoe Club members these days.
Despite watching Hawaiian Canoe Club run away with their 25th straight Maui County Hawaiian Canoe Association inshore regatta championship, the West Side paddlers remain aglow with a sincere feeling of accomplishment and participation in this true cultural sport of the islands.
“This has truly been an awesome season because it was really fun. Every club had more people come out to paddle — especially on the adult side — and everyone had a good time. This is the first time in a long time that this has happened,” said a clearly pleased Jeanne Gonzalez, president of Napili Canoe Club.
Kahana Canoe Club member Maria Linz concurred in saying, “This has really been a great year. We all had a good time. I think this is what really matters — that we try to win, but having fun is the most important thing.”
For KCC President Bobo Naleieha, the focus on the cultural aspects of canoe paddling added to the inspirational upswing this year.
“We tried to concentrate more on the culture of the canoe — things like chants. That seemed to have been almost lost. But I feel like we got it back this year, and that is good,” he said.
The final MCHCA regatta standings found Kahana in fourth place with 288 points, behind Hawaiian, Kihei and Lae Ula O Kai. Napili finished in fifth place with 269 points, and Lahaina ended the season in eighth place with 104 points.
Next up is the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association (HCRA) State Championship Regatta on Aug. 1 at Hilo Bay on the Big Island.
Kahana will send six crews to the event, including the 12 Girls, 15 Boys, 16 Girls, 16 Boys, Sophomore Women and Sophomore Men. The 16 Girls crew of Shaina Auld, Ariel Kahahane, Kaualani Kaholokula, Ciara Kahahane, Misty Branco and Kamalani Kaholokula won last Saturday’s championship event, covering the half-mile course in 4:44.31.
Napili qualified four crews to the state championships, including the 12 Boys, 12 Mixed, 13 Girls and 13 Boys, while Lahaina will send their Novice B Men and Master’s Men crews to Hilo.
The Orange and Black (LCC) Masters Men crew of Spud Lendhardt, Bear Keahi, Franklin Laborte, Richard Olson, Mark Shimer and Alan Kuiper completed their 2009 championship run with a first place finish last week in a time of 7:39.93 over the one-mile course.
Following the Hilo event, all of the MCHCA clubs will ramp up for the long distance season that begins on Aug. 8.
“It feels so good,” said Lahaina Canoe Club President Adam Quinn.
“We’ve all got the feeling that it’s just getting started. We love the long distance season, and we have a truly optimistic feeling about the future for all the clubs on the West Side.”