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Maui crew wins gold medal in Molokai Hoe race

By Staff | Nov 1, 2018

They call themselves the “old futs” – or the Red Bull equivalent “old bulls” – but in the highly revered long distance Hawaiian canoe paddling tradition, they are the senior top guns.

Comprised of 60-plus-year-old paddlers from all across Maui, including a group of veteran watermen from the West Side, this Hawaiian Canoe Club crew stroked to a gold medal victory three weeks ago in the 60-plus Division of the 66th Molokai Hoe in a record time of 5:52.30.

The HCC representative won the division for the fourth time in the last five years – the only setback coming in 2016 when they finished in second place minutes behind the winner of that race.

The event is considered the “Super Bowl” of long distance canoe paddling and covers the 42-mile open ocean Kaiwi Channel between the west end of Molokai and the busy beach of Waikiki on Oahu. Twelve-member crews rotate in and out of the canoe and their escort vessel across the oftentimes rough channel that tests the endurance, teamwork and strategic course experience of hundreds of crews from Hawaii, Tahiti, Japan, California, Europe and beyond.

The old salts ranging in age from 61 to 70 have dominated the senior long distance race circuit for five-plus years. This season was the crowning glory with decisive victories at the Pailolo Channel race from Maui to Molokai, at the Queen Liliuokalani World Championships at Kona on the Big Island, and this most recent gold medal effort in the 2018 Molokai Hoe.

The victorious crew is comprised of Kevin Ledesma, Jerome Kalama, Tom Guerin, Wendall DeVera, John McCandless, Pia Aluli, Lex Raas, Frank Zajac, Mark Kazberten, Biggie Lara, Lou Dionese and Tomas Schlotman.

The team members come from different clubs here on Maui, including Kahana, Lae Ula, Kihei and Hawaiian, but share the intense desire to be in the water and paddle together as one.

They will be moving up into the 65-plus Division for 2019. Imua!