West Maui clubs earn medals at Mayor’s ‘Umeke Regatta
KAHULUI — Kahului Harbor was already a bright sea of people when I arrived early on Saturday morning for the 2011 Mayor’s ‘Umeke Regatta. There was a buzz in the air as everyone arrived to help set up; wearing their team’s colors, carrying paddles, feeling excited and perhaps a little nervous about the day ahead.
Once the teams had their tents in place, their wa’a rigged and their belongings unloaded, it was time for the pule (blessing) from Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and representatives from Lae ‘Ula O Kai, the day’s hosts.
The manini race (keiki as young as six, with an adult steersperson) is the opening event. With some young ones no bigger than their paddles, it’s not competitive and the focus is on fun. Hopefully we’ll see some of these keiki as future paddlers on Maui.
It wasn’t long before the first competitive race of the day. Event One was the Girl’s 12 (and under) B, where Lahaina Canoe Club finished a close second to Hawaiian with a time of 3:00.44. LCC’s strong start continued in the Boys 12B, with their crew (Ren Kitaichi, Jacob “Jake” Kuiper, Chris Salunga-Kahaialii, Anis Bel, Agustin Lara and Kainoa Reponte) winning first place for the West Side club. This is no small achievement as, I’m told, Lahaina’s keiki have not won a first-place medal for over ten years. Obviously the hard work of their coaches, who include Franklin Laborte and Robert Bogar, is paying off…
Napili Canoe Club has an impressive keiki program and their crews also started the season in style. They won an incredible 22 points for their club in the first eight races alone, with five second-place, one third-place finish and their first gold medal of the season in Event Six, the Girls 13, where Diamond Freitas, Hailani Keahi-Ng, Kehau Lani Brown, Courtney Ruidas, Christy Mae Ruidas and Carly Jaramillo won with a time of 2:42:17.
Kahana’s Novice B Women won the first point of the day for their club, with a fourth-place finish in their quarter-mile race. A second point followed soon after, with another fourth in the Mixed Novice B.
The half-mile races continued to yield points for the West Side clubs; Napili’s Girls 15 (Jordan Ruidas, Chelsey Erickson-Vierra, Kanoe Delatori, Aloha Kaaihue-Ah Puck, Tricia Kama and Kaliko Pasco-Dusenberry) and Novice B Men (Alexander Auerbach, Joshua Riccio, Jeffrey Groh, Steven Pitts, Shaun Pederson and Brandon LaRue) both taking first place with respective times of 4:55:20 and 4:18:56.
Kahana’s Mixed 18 (Misty Branco, Kapua Lum, Kamalani Kaholokula, Justin Sadang, Francisco Axell Jimenez Salgado and Kawehi Kaina) won their half-mile race and five points for their hale, as did their Mens 50 (Gary Saldana, Riese Perry, Neil Murphy, Eric Goertz, Jonah Kuaana and Dale Angel), who notched a time of 4:05:48 in Event 27.
Lahaina’s Mens 40 enjoyed a comfortable victory in their one-mile race, with Geoff Bogar, Spud Lenhardt, Bear Keahi, Adam Quinn, Mark Shimer and Alan Kuiper winning gold with a time of 8:01:96, a full 24 seconds ahead of their nearest competitor.
Kahana’s Open Women also took first place in their one-and-a-half mile course, with Kristina Dougherty, Dawnalyn Fujiwara, Danielle Kuck, Emily Janchevis, Lani Kane and Chistina Yorkey finishing strongly in 14:22:30.
The day drew to a close after 43 races with Hawaiian Canoe Club on top of the standings with 139 points — unsurprising, considering HCC is Maui’s largest club with 26 consecutive county titles under their belt. Regatta hosts Lae ‘Ula O Kai came in second with a total of 71 points; Napili were the frontrunners of the West Side clubs with a tally of 57; Kihei were a close fourth, ending the first regatta with 55; Kahana came in fifth with 39; Wailea won 36; Na Kai Ewalu brought home 31; Lahaina notched 19; and Hana Canoe Club registered ten.
It was an impressive first day for the West Side hales and, with the next three regattas all at Hanakao’o “Canoe” Beach, perhaps they can use home advantage to close in on Hawaiian’s lead. Imua to Kahana, Lahaina and Napili. See you at Wailea’s Kamehameha Regatta on June 11!