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Kahana Canoe Club competes in Vaka Eiva

By Staff | Dec 3, 2015

Kahana Canoe Club senior paddlers traveled to the Cook Islands to participate in Vaka Eiva.

LAHAINA – In official Maui County Hawaiian Canoe Association parlance, the senior paddlers in the 55 and over age group are classified in the “Golden Masters” division. But around Kahana Canoe Club’s purple and green hale down at Hanakao’o Beach Park (Canoe Beach), they are known as the “Aunties and Uncles.”

This group of veteran paddlers – with some 300 years of experience in canoes in the ocean around Maui and across the state – have ventured into the international arena of the sport with their cultural participation in the 12th Vaka Eiva 2015 event at Raratonga in the Cook Islands.

It is the premiere canoe paddling event for the Cook Islands in this special year of the nation’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

This year, shipping company Matson has come on board as the platinum sponsor to help grow international paddling events such as Vaka Eiva.

The Kahana contingent is participating in the event for the first time. They left Maui on Nov. 18 and will return on Dec. 3.

The “Aunties and Uncles” are led by 70 years young Charlie “Happy Face” Nakagawa, along with Diane and Walter “Walla” Delos Reyes, Jane and Jim Kohler, Carl Kobayashi, Bruce Wright, Teddy Waller, Annie Wilson, Gilda and Sam Cavalero, and Dorothy Flores.

“We are really excited about these races and the experience of being a part of Vaka Eiva for the first time,” said Diane Delos Reyes on the day they left for Raratonga. “We’ve been doing fundraisers on and on to be able to go, and now we’re thrilled to be on our way.”

Vaka Eiva, arguably the top sporting event for the Cook Islands, includes the prestigious open men and women’s long distance races around Raratonga. The event also includes sprint and novelty competitions in the lagoons and bays of the island with divisions for younger paddlers and all the way up to the Golden Masters Division. This is where the Aunties and Uncles of KCC will participate and soak up the cultural aspects of the prestigious event.

There will also be teams from all across Hawaii, as well as from California, the East Coast, Canada and even Europe participating in this year’s celebration. Woven into the event will be cultural and traditional canoe paddling customs, including welcome blessings and Turou (welcome) calls.

Adding to the experience will be arts, food, crafts for the visitors to enjoy as well as canoe carving exhibitions and trips on the double-hulled sailing vaka Marumaru Atua. It will be an unforgettable journey for all these elite paddlers of Kahana Canoe Club. Imua, Aunties and Uncles!