Napili Canoe Club wins state championship
LAHAINA — In what club leaders have called a most happy season, Napili Canoe Club brought home the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association Class A (for clubs with six or less crews) state championship to widen the collective smile of the West Side organization.
The Black and Gold totaled 53 points to edge Kawaihae of the Big Island with 51.
Kahana Canoe Club of West Maui finished in ninth place, and Lahaina took 23rd. Hawaiian Canoe Club won their 25th consecutive Maui County Hawaiian Canoe Association (MCHCA) title this season, and won the large club classification, the AAAA Division, for its eighth state championship in the last nine years.
According to Head Coach Joey Tihada, Napili took four keiki crews to the HCRA event at a soggy Hilo Bay on Saturday, Aug. 1, and sterling performances by all of them led the club to the top of the A Division.
The 13 Girls crew of Aloha Kaaihue-Ah Puck, Jordan Ruidas, Tricia Kama, Halii Erickson-Vierra, Kanoe Delatori, Mahea Kaaihue-Falahee, Lilinoe Kahae, Mehana Chang, Tori Ayudan and Jenine Misay led the charge with a gold medal finish in a time of 1:56.87.
The Napili 13 Boys followed the girls’ win with a first place finish of their own in a time of 1:50.95. That crew was made up of Michael Naganuma, Aaron Watson, Bronson Kaina, Christian Freitas, Dillon Magalianes and Kahi Tihada.
A second place finish by the 12 Mixed crew and fifth place effort by the 12 Boys added the crucial points that put Napili over the top were.
The 12 Mixed lineup included Bronson Kaina, Cyrus Kama, Kaliko Pasco-Dusenberry, Bronson Vierra, Kalena Au Shim, Moana Astronomo, Andylyn Alavazo and Kealoha Nishino.
The 12 Boys crew was made up of Cyrus Kama, Connor “Steeler” Mowat, Kona Kaaihue-Ah Puck, Bronson Vierra, Anson Cabanilla, Leeland Alavazo and Brandon Kaina.
“We knew we had the potential with these kids,” explained Coach Joey last week. “We told them to practice hard, work together as a crew, and that things would work out well. Coach Nori (Tihada) worked these kids hard all season. All the coaches told them to focus and visualize coming across the finish line first, and then good things will happen.”
“The main thing we emphasize to the kids is that they always give 110 percent and come out knowing that they did their best,” added Coach Joey. “That’s all that we can ask.”
Tihada also recognized Hawaiian Canoe Club leaders Paul Luuwai and Diane Ho for letting Napili use their koa canoe at the state regatta.
“Thanks also to all of our keiki coaches — Nori Tihada, Theresa Marzan, Eugene Tihada, Raeleen Kama and Manny Portabes — the board of directors, and all the parents for their support this season. We had great fund-raisers — car wash, lau lau plate sale, concert night at Lulu’s — that brought the whole club together to attain our goals,” he concluded.