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West Side canoe clubs vie for berths at the state races

By Staff | Jul 16, 2015


LAHAINA – With the Maui County Hawaiian Canoe Association Championships coming up this weekend and the state races two weeks after that in Hilo, the three West Side clubs are making the final turns into the homestretch of the 2015 season.

Kahana Canoe Club is currently running in third place of the MCHCA cumulative season standings with Napili close behind in fourth place and Lahaina Canoe Club further back in the pack.

Hawaiian Canoe Club continues its decades long stranglehold on the county and state titles with no change forthcoming – at least in the current races.

However, the Green and Purple from Kahana is making a push up the ladder with strong performances by several adult crews and surprising efforts in the keiki divisions.

Board member and club spokesperson Diane Delos Reyes reported that the Novice A Men and Women, Novice B Women, 65 and Over Golden Masters, Mixed 65, 12 B Boys, 18 Girls and Mixed 18 crews are all having standout seasons coming into the final races of the inshore regatta events.

Kahana Canoe Club’s 12 B Boys crew is having a standout season. KAHANA CANOE CLUB PHOTOS BY DIANE DELOS REYES.

“Things are going really well for us this year, as the board of directors and the coaches are working efficiently to build the club,” said Delos Reyes last week.

“There’s some really good energy coming from the novice crews and from the kids, and Cameron (Jacome) is providing great leadership for our 175 active members.”

Jacome is the club president, Danielle Kuck is VP, Cynthia Conrad is secretary, and Troy Jones and Anne Wilson are the treasurers.

The board of directors includes May Wedelin, Alfie Pecson, Liz Hongo, Sherry Seto Hands, Carl Kobayshi, John Kuia, Rebecca Woolbright, Suzy Tucker, Liz Straka and Walter “Walla” Delos Reyes.

Jacome doubles as KCC’s head coach and is joined by Dale Angel, Riese Perry, Jim Kohler and Walter Delos Reyes on the adult staff. The keiki mentors are Colin Delos Reyes, Michael “Scary” Garvin, George Vierra, Ryan Goodreau, May Wedelin, Suzy Tucker and Van Fischer.

At least three of Kahana Canoe Club’s women’s crews are in the running to qualify for the state championships.

Next door at Napili Canoe Club, Jeanne Gonzales continues her dedication of over 30 years in leadership of the organization founded by the late Dougie Tihada. President Gonzales is joined by Vice President Teresa Marzan, Secretary Emily Vincent and Treasurer Carol Elterman on the board of directors for the 2015 season.

Head coach Joey Tihada leads a staff made up of Bear Keahi, Kawika Aki, Bubba Kukahiko and Rose Buthi for the adult crews, with Nori Tihada, Eugene Tihada, Manny Portables, Kalani Tihada and Isaiah Makaiwi guiding the kids’ crews.

“We’ve got some paddlers coming back to the club, and Bear (Keahi) is providing precise technique training and structured practices for us, so things are building well for the future,” said Gonzales from Napili’s beachfront hale last week.

“The club has 170 members this year, and we’re looking forward to the upcoming regattas and the state races after that.”

Lahaina Canoe Club, the senior paddling organization here on the West Side founded in the 1950s by Uncle Earl Kukahiko and others, and revived in later years by Sam Kaai and the late George Paoa, has fallen on thin times in recent years.

Kahana Canoe Club’s Novice B Men’s crew celebrates after their last race.

A group of diehard leaders keeps the club going, however, and the Orange and Black looks to make the turn around the flag to better times in the future.

Aviva Libitsky is the club president, Franklin Laborte is vice president, Jennifer Fuller is secretary and Spud Lendhart is the head coach this year.