WAILUA — Where were the cars?
Doneen Stokes and Joe Curameng, coaches for the Kauai High School paddling teams, and the Red Raider boys were huddled over a solitary canoe with Justice Enrique, a Kapaa High School freshman, trying to peer over the huddle Saturday at the Wailua River bank.
“They moved the start time to noon because of testing,” Stokes said. “But we brought the boys over early because they need to rig the boats and get in some practice.”
Kauai Interscholastic Federation official Mia Pauletto worked with Nakoa Pu‘u to “stretch the stretch” with the cordage used to rig the canoes for the water.
“You feel the stretch?” Pauletto asked the young man. “Now, you lean into the stretch. This gets the rope stretched out, and once laced, it hits the water, which shrinks the cords for a secure fit.”
Pauletto was excited about the KIF regatta, noting the entry of Island School with teams in varsity girls, boys and mixed divisions. The Voyagers did not field any teams in the junior varsity field.
“I’m proud to see Island School return to racing,” Pauletto said. “The last race they took part in was about five years ago, and their participation in the races makes for a more exciting season. It was awesome day to see so many canoe paddlers this year compared with prior years. I want to give a huge shout out to two Island School paddlers — Courtney Marois and Nico Maione — for going above and beyond the call. I really appreciate their efforts.”
Enrique was anxiously awaiting her coaches’ arrival.
“We’re not supposed to be with them (Kauai),” Enrique said while trying to be useful and still be mindful of her instruction of staying away from the opposition teams. “I don’t know if I’m going to paddle today or not. It’s up to the coaches.”
Tara Fernandez, a parent of a Waimea paddler, was also an early arrival, beating the arrival of the Menehune coaching staff.
“This is going to be an interesting season,” Fernandez said. “Kapaa and Waimea boys lost a lot to graduation. The Kapaa varstiy girls were really strong last year, reaching fourth at states. They bring back a lot of the same girls, and having Island School in the mix is really going to make for an interesting season.”
When the action started, Kapaa opened on a winning note, taking the JV girls on a paddle that stopped the clock at 19 minutes, 14.56 seconds, followed by the Kauai JV crossing the two-mile distance 30 seconds back.
Waimea answered the call, rebounding from this third finish in the opening race and claiming the JV boys on a 16:14.98 run — just one second faster than Kapaa’s JV boys (16:15.04). The Menehune also claimed the JV mixed division.
Kapaa came back to sweep the varsity races, which saw the paddlers leave the start line for a four-mile roundtrip along the Wailua River.
The KIF regatta continues Saturday with its second race of the season at the Wailua River, another distance race, with the JV paddlers stroking for two miles and the varsity paddlers going four miles. Start time for the first race is at noon due to college-entrance-exam testing.
JV Girls: Kap A (19:14.66), Kau A (19:44.15), Kap B (19:56.00); Wai A (19:56.05), Kap C (24:08.00)
JV Boys: Wai A (16:14.98), Kap A (16:15.04), Kau A (16:59.77); Kap B (17:41.67), Kap C (18:35.88), Wai B (18:40.13)
JV Mixed: Wai A (17:31.77), Kap A (18:14.67), Kau A (18:32.77); Kap B (19:20.81), Kap C (19:57.10), Kap D (20:10.22)
Varsity Girls: Kap A (36:55.28), Wai A (37:39.74), Kau A (37:42.75), IS (42.50.98)
Varsity Boys: Kap A (32.05.00), Kap B (34:13.30), Kau A (34:22.44), IS (38:24.20), Wai (39:12:05)
Varsity Mixed: Kap A (34:44.23), Wai A (35:45.74), Kau A (36:25.82); IS-A (38:34.198); Kap B (18:12.50), Kap C (18:30.43), IS-B (45:13-Huli)