LAHAINA - The youth movement at Napili Canoe Club continued to grow throughout the 2012 inshore racing season and culminated last week, as the Gold and Black from Maui's West Side sent ten crews - numbering 47 keiki paddlers - to the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association (HCRA) State Championship Regatta at Keehi Lagoon last Saturday, Aug. 4.
According to NCC coach Joey Tihada, who accompanied the youth paddlers to the event with a coaching staff made up of Rayleen Kama, Eugene Tihada, Manny Portabes, Junior Nakoa, Kekoa Mowat and Courtney Asato, the team competed in the AA Division with clubs entering seven to 12 crews.
"The kids worked really hard over the season... improved week-to-week and are primed for the state races," said Coach Joey last week from Canoe Beach at their final practice in preparation for the state races.
Napili Canoe Club sent 47 keiki paddlers to the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association State Championship Regatta on Saturday
"We really didn't know what to expect early in the season, and we were surprised with some of the results. There is a lot of potential with these crews - some defending champs and several county champs and undefeated crews from this year."
The top seeds and Maui County Hawaiian Canoe Association (MCHCA) champions from NCC included the Girls 12, Boys 12, Mixed 12, Girls 13 and Girls 14 crews, while the second-seeded entries were the Boys 14, Girls 15, Boys 15, Girls 16 and Girls 18.
The lineups for the six-person crews, with several of the kids paddling in more than one race, were: Girls 12 - Keala Cabanilla, Daisha Kalilikane, Lina Nolan Criste, Hoku Delatori, Ola Medeiros, Gabby Miyamoto, Noe Keahi and Kaohu Palakiko; and Boys 12 - Aukai Kama, Justice Tihada, Ikaika Viela, David Coloumbe, Ikua Tihada, Kila Vierra, Aki-Boy Miyamoto and Kaleo Nuesca, The Mixed 12 crew added Keala Cabanilla with five of the aforementioned 12 age group paddlers in its lineup.
The Girls 13 crew was made up of Tavi Viela, Ana Lukela Kobatake, Kaohu Palakiko, Kiana Nakoa, Hoku Delatori and Kaile Kron; while the unbeaten and defending state champion Girls 14 lineup included Courtney Ruidas, Christie Ruidas, Kapa Jaramillo, Kehau Brown, Diamond Freitas, Lukela Kobatake and Viela.
The second-seeded NCC entries were made up of Connor "Steeler" Mowat, Cyrus Kama, Christian Balagso, Pono Lolohea, Ryan Delatori, Kila Vierra and Matini Perlas Kaai in the Boys 14 crew; Kaliko Pasco Dusenberry, Kalei Steele, Kealoha Nishiyama, Freitas, Courtney Ruidas and Jaramillo in the Girls 15 team; Bronson Kaina, Brandon Kaina, Bronson Vierra, Bubba Jaramillo, Mowat and Kama for the Boys 15 crew; and a conglomerate of Halii Vierra, Kanoe Delatori, Trisha Kama, Aloha Kaaihue Ah Puck, Jordan Ruidas, Pasco Dusenberry and Steele paddled the Girls 16 and Girls 18 entries for Napili.
Coach Joey took the time to acknowledge all who have helped the club throughout the season. He had particular praise to the NCC board of directors led by President Jeanne Gonzales and all of the parents charged with transporting the kids to and from Canoe Beach for practice, as well as the fundraising effort to send them to Oahu for the state races.
"Thank you to all for helping us out, and special thanks to Hawaiian Canoe Club for lending us their koa canoe for the state races, and to the Will Smith Foundation and the boy's mom, Susan Mouton, for the donation of a new racing canoe for the club," he concluded.
Kahana Canoe Club sent four crews to Oahu for the event, including the Women Novice B, Women Sophomore, Open Four, and 65 and Over paddlers.
At the state regatta, Napili finished in fifth place in the AA Division with 85 points. The Girls 14 and Mixed 12 crews both completed unbeaten seasons and won state championships.
NCC will raise funds for its long distance program by holding a rummage sale on Sunday, Aug. 12, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hanako'o Beach Park. The club will have smoked meat plate lunches ready for pickup that day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for an $8 per plate donation, To purchase tickets in advance, visit www.napilicanoeclub.com.