KAHULUI — We made a return to Kahului Harbor on Saturday after predictions of a large south swell and limited parking options forced a change of venue from Kihei’s Ka Lae Pohaku Park. After racing here just seven days ago, there was a sense of déjà vu in returning to the harbor to find the good parking spots, set up our tents and get ready for the day ahead.
Kihei Canoe Club’s Moki Kalanikau Regatta was the penultimate Maui County Hawaiian Canoe Association (MCHCA) race day of the season, and the heat was on for many crews hoping to nail down a berth for “States” on Aug. 6.
Our West Side clubs had 30 crews that took home medals on Saturday, and it wasn’t long before the first of them was won, as Lahaina’s Boys 12B bagged silver as early as Event 2.
Napili’s Girls and Boys 12A were next with silver medals and times of 2:46:66 and 2:41:77, respectively. Lahaina also won bronze in the Boys 12A. NCC’s Mixed 12s (Andilyn Alavazo, Hailani Keahi-Ng, Matini Perlas-Kaai, Kawika Sanchez, Tavi Viela and Kila Vierra) won gold in a time of 2:28:33.
Napili’s Girls 13 (Kehau-Lani Brown, Diamond Freitas, Carly Jaramillo, Hailani Keahi-Ng, Christy Mae Ruidas, Courtney Ruidas) and Girls 15 (Kanoe Delatori, Chelsey Erickson-Vierra, Aloha Kaaihue-Ah Puck, Tricia Kama, Jenina Misay and Jordan Ruidas) continued their unbeaten run, each winning their sixth gold medals in as many races. Their Boys 13, Girls 14, Boys 14, Mixed Novice Bs, Men’s Novice B and Girls 16 all took home silver medals and three points apiece.
Napili’s keiki have impressed all season, and when I spoke to the club’s head coach, Joey Tihada, he paid tribute to their efforts: “They work really hard and deserve everything they get. We’re happy for them, especially with states coming up. They just have to keep focused and keep practicing.
“Above all, we encourage fun across our divisions. We want all our crews to come out, work hard on the water and be committed. We are there to compete, and a lot of time and effort is put in every week. Winning is not everything, and giving 110 percent is all I ask. If our paddlers look back and they can feel satisfied with how they’ve grown or what they’ve learned during the season, we know we have done our job as coaches. Winning medals is just a plus.”
Lahaina’s Novice B Men went on to add two points to their tally, winning bronze in their half-mile sprint, as did LCC’s Boys 16, who registered third in 4:51:05.
Napili’s Girls 18 took fourth, while the Mixed 18s came in second in a time of 4:53:22. Kahana’s Novice A Women notched the first points of the day for their club, finishing third with a time of 5:03:59. In Event 20, Napili’s Boys 18 crew also came in third with a time of 9:35:24.
Lahaina’s Novice A Men (Eric Bruner, Chris Gamache, Jordan Johnson, Seth MacCarter, Mone Mamao and Michael Rains) were able to leapfrog Hawaiian Canoe Club by a point in the standings after their first-place finish, with a current 18 points to HCC’s 17.
Kahana took 12 points from the following 12 events; their Men’s 60 and Men’s 50 came in second with times of 4:36:31 and 4:21:10, and the Men’s 50 crew cemented a place at States. KCC’s Men’s 55 and Mixed 55 came in fourth, the Mixed 60s were third and the Sophomore Men also finished third.
It was a good afternoon for the team in green, and when I spoke to Cameron Jacome, the Men’s head coach, he said that Kahana’s unity was key. “We have great camaraderie. We delegate duties between men, women and keiki, and it makes us one solid unit and gives a fun, family feel. Everyone had tasks to do before the season started, like learning how to rig, and we weren’t sure how everyone would react, but they were stoked on it. It’s made us a tight unit, and in that respect we are very strong — we’re a club rather than separate crews,” he said.
“We also have some standout crews that are shining right now, like our Open Women and our Senior Men. Realistically, all we want to take from next week’s regatta is being able to send those crews to race at States on a positive note. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have to finish as first or second seed, but Lahaina’s regatta is going to be in our back yard, and we just want them to have a positive day and look forward to those state races.”
Napili’s Women’s 50 registered fourth, as did their Freshmen Men with times of 5:36:71 and 9:25:13.
Kahana’s Junior Women (Misty Branco, Dawnalyn Fujiwara, Emily Janchevis, Lani Kane, Danielle Kuck and Christina Yorkey) maintained their lead at the top of their division’s standings with a first-place finish in a time of 9:48:12.
Napili’s Junior Men came in third in 8:55:68, while their Women’s Open Four came in fourth in 5:45:01. The Mixed 40s, the Mixed Open and the Women’s 40 crews all came in fourth with times of 5:20:24, 4:30:63 and 11:45:50.
Lahaina’s Men’s 40 won their second gold in consecutive weeks with a time of 8:32:13. Kahana came in third in the same race with a time of 9:04:62. In the Women’s Open race, Kahana came in second in 15:58:91, and Napili took fourth in 17:51:08.
Event 43, the last race of the day, saw Lahaina place third in the Men’s Open with a time of 13:25:24.
The day drew to a close with Hawaiian on top of the standings with 139 points (812 in total), Lae ‘Ula O Kai with 84 (472), Napili on 56 (337), Kihei with 55 (342), Wailea with 39 (256), Na Kai Ewalu on 38 (211), Kahana on 25 (193), Lahaina on 21 (107) and Hana with eight (55).
Next Saturday will see the MCHCA Championships hosted by Lahaina Canoe Club at Hanakao‘o Beach. I’ll be back with more news from the Keiki O Maui Regatta and all the definitive details of who will be racing at States. Good luck to all the West Side clubs! Imua to Kahana, Lahaina and Napili!