Napili Canoe Club crew wins gold medal at state regatta
LAHAINA — It was a golden year for Napili Canoe Club’s age 12 paddlers.
Led by the charge of the youth paddlers on their roster, Napili raced to a fifth place finish in the AA Division (7-12 entries) of the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association (HCRA) State Championship Regatta held at Keehi Lagoon in Honolulu on Aug. 7.
Kahana Canoe Club finished three slots behind in eighth place, and Lahaina CC placed 16th in the A Division for seven crews or less.
Napili was actually in first place throughout the day and into the final races before falling back as the upper division events closed out the competition.
For the Gold and Black of NCC — the 12 Girls, 12 Boys and, most especially, the 12 Mixed crew — 2010 will be remembered as the gold medal season.
All three paddled to Maui County Hawaiian Canoe Association (MCHCA) championships to gain top seeds for the state regatta, where Napili would defend the title they won last year.
At Keehi Lagoon, the 12 Girls started the day by racing to a second place finish, the 12 Boys took third, and then the 12 Mixed lineup blazed their way to 2:15.09 clocking over the quarter-mile course to bring home the gold for Napili.
The 12 Mixed crew of Ansen Cabanilla, Cyrus Kama, Courtney Ruidas, Connor “Steeler” Mowat, Ana Lukela Kobatake and Moana Astronomo thus paddled to an undefeated season and the lasting memory of a state championship.
For the three boys in this crew — Kama, Connor and Cabanilla — the victory is particularly impressive, as it followed immediately in the wake of their bronze medal effort in the 12 Boys event.
These three stayed in the canoe as the three girls jumped in for the 12 Mixed race. It didn’t seem to phase them.
“It felt really good out there,” said Kama, a seven-year paddler who stroked the 12 Boys canoe and sat in seat two for the 12 Mixed race.
“The coaches — Coach Joey (Tihada) and Coach Nori (Tihada) — really had us prepared for this race. They’ve been working us hard all season long, and it paid off. We didn’t feel tired, and now with football practice starting up, we still feel good! It was an awesome feeling when we got out of the boat after the race, and even better up there on the victory stand.”
Joey, the veteran coach and another in the long line of his family heritage in promoting the culture of the Hawaiian canoe, added that the season brought him great satisfaction and delight.
“These kids are a joy to coach for Nori and myself, and we are especially grateful to their parents and families for supporting the program. We really try to promote a club atmosphere of fun as the top priority. Have a good time and leave it all out in the water,” he concluded.