Everything is going well for Napili Canoe Club this summer
LAHAINA – Halfway into the 2017 Maui County Hawaiian Canoe Association inshore regatta season, Napili Canoe Club finds itself in familiar waters – just behind the behemoth force of Hawaiian that continues to dominate at the county and state level. After three events, the Black and Gold from the West Side are clamping down in fourth place in the MCHCA standings among the eight Maui County clubs.
Napili’s “steady as she goes” mantra has held true into the current campaign, as the club membership of some 160 strong active members has continued to compete at the highest levels of the MCHCA inshore regatta competitions.
Club President Jeanne Gonzalez reported that the club enters crews in 31 of the 40 races ranging from quarter-mile sprints for the youngsters to mile-and-a-half endurance contests for the most experienced of the adults.
“All of the crews are doing really well – especially the kids 12’s and Mixed crews,” said Gonzalez, now into her tenth year as NCC’s president and 35th with the club.
“We did really well with our big fundraiser, the Dougie Tihada Memorial Regatta that started the season three weeks ago, and everything is going well with all of the terrific coaches and board members we have.”
Gonzalez is joined on the Napili board of directors by Vice President Theresa Marzan, Treasurer Carol Elterman, Secretary Emilie Vincent and Board Members Denise Neary and Brian Carey.
The coaching staff includes many familiar names associated with propagating the Hawaiian canoe. Heading up the list is the West Side’s soft-spoken warrior of youth leadership, Joey Tihada – the son of the late Dougie Tihada, who was one of the founding fathers of Napili Canoe Club and a guiding influence of the culture of the Hawaiian canoe on the West Side – as the head coach.
He is joined by adult head coach Steven Keahi and keiki head coach Nori Tihada (also a son of Dougie.)
The keiki assistant coaches include Junior Nakoa, Manny Portables, Al Nip, Isaiah Makaiwi, Rae Kama and Eugene Tihada (Dougie’s brother). The adult assistants are Kona Maielua and Bubba Kukahiko.
Napili has 14 canoes and, with the treasury in good shape after the “Dougie” regatta, the club has been researching buying a new canoe.
“We’re looking for the right canoe for us and for the right one to become available,” said Gonzalez last week.
“We’re doing well with the ones we have – we don’t have a koa canoe – and all of the club members and coaches are on top of taking care of the equipment. We had some problems with the river mouth and the ‘king tides’ of late and had to move the canoes up to the Lahaina hale recently, and when there are big rains and a lot of water coming down from the mountains, we have to get down there with shovels to keep the flow safe. There are new county restrictions to deal with down here as well.”
She noted that the club will compete in the long distance season after the conclusion of the regatta events. The state inshore regatta championships will be held in late July at Canoe Beach in Lahaina. Last year, the Napili Mixed crew won a state title and the 12 Boys won a bronze medal.
Several races on Maui, the Kona event and the world-renowned Molokai to Oahu channel race highlight the list. Also, Gonzalez added that Napili will send crews to California for the Long Beach to Catalina race that takes place in September.
(The West Side community remembers William “Billy” Gonzalez, the late husband of Jeanne Gonzalez, who passed away after an accident with a motorboat in the waters fronting Canoe Beach on Dec. 29, 2011. Billy was a prominent advocate of the Hawaiian canoe and, specifically, was the lane setter for the inshore regattas here in Lahaina and a longtime member of Kahana Canoe Club. He literally and figuratively dedicated his life to malama pono, to nurture in a motherly way that which is good and righteous, as he spent a good portion of his day-to-day life propagating the culture at Canoe Beach.)