West Maui crews win gold medals at state regatta
LAHAINA – It was a sentimental journey for the West Side clubs competing in the 2017 Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association State Championships two weeks ago, as both Napili and Kahana Canoe Clubs dedicated their participation in the monumental event to beloved individuals that had passed away.
Geoff Hunter, the brother of KCC member Jenna Hunter, and William Kalanikai (Uncle Billy) Gonzales, husband of longtime Napili leader and current President Jeanne Gonzales, were honored throughout the competition at Hanakao’o (Canoe) Beach Park in the pristine conditions that only our leeward coast can offer.
The event brought crews from all across the state, from Hanalei to Hilo, to compete against the top inshore sprint teams of the year, as the seven-year rotation of the championship site brought the event to Maui and Lahaina’s picturesque Canoe Beach.
Kahului’s Hawaiian Canoe Club dominated in the AAAA Division to capture its 15th state championship; and in the AA Division for clubs entering 7-12 crews, Napili finished fifth with 93 points and Kahana took eighth place while scoring 69 points.
The Gold and Black’s 12 Boys crew of Dylan Takahashi-Sagapolutele, Iliao Palakiko, Tayden Medeiros Maielua, Kelii Snyder Opunui, Kaulana Tihada and Kalaeloa Tancayo started the day with a bang and a first place finish in their quarter-mile sprint race.
That was followed by a fifth place effort by the Napili 12 Girls crew, a 14th place by their 14 Girls, a seventh place by the 15 Girls, a tenth place by the Freshmen Women, a third place bronze medal performance by the 13 Boys, a 13th place from the Freshmen Men, a sixth place from the Sophomore Men, and a sixth place from the 12 Mixed lineup.
For the Purple and Green from Kahana Canoe Club, it was a golden day for two of their most dedicated crews. In an unheard of trifecta, the Kahana Novice Women won the club’s third consecutive gold medal in the half-mile event.
Analise Farmer has been in the canoe for all three championships, while Genevieve Ruvald, Jessica Loncar, Elana Campbell, Katie Bacon and Ashley Ooley have blended into the championship crew over the last two seasons.
Joining them on the top of the pedestal was the Open Mixed crew of Danielle Kuck, Cynthia Conrad, Suzi Tucker, Cord Cuniberti, Mason Panis and Cameron Jacome.
Also racking up valuable points for KCC were the Novice B Women with a 13th place finish, the 65 Women in 12th place, the Open Four Women in 14th place, the Sophomore Women in 13th place, the 65 Men in tenth place, the Novice B Men with a ninth place finish, and the 40 Men in 11th place.
Kahana coach Cynthia Conrad praised all of the paddlers for their dedication in nurturing the culture of canoe paddling with their leadership and personal contributions to the club.
“It is precisely this dedication that made these victories that much sweeter. Racing with people that poured blood, sweat and tears into the club creates an indescribable feeling. I truly felt that heart and hard work came together and reminded me of all the reasons why we paddle and why we race – not for medals, but for our club coming together and pushing each other to be the best paddlers and the best people we can be. The gold medals are just the icing on the cake,” she said.