Kaua’i outriggers make waves in Big Apple

WAILUA — New Yorkers were treated to outrigger canoe racing recently when

crews from Hanalei, Kaiola, and Wailua Kayak and Canoes descended on the Big

Apple for three days of rigging, racing and the New York nightlife during the

Liberty Challenge.

Teams from the three Kaua`i clubs traveled nearly 6,000

miles to paddle under the gaze of Lady Liberty, joining 54 other teams,

including contingents from China and Sweden and many from the East Coast. Teams

paddled in one of the busiest harbors in the world over a 16-mile course in an

event that is rapidly becoming a world-class sport.

“The course followed a

path around the tip of Manhattan, up the East River to midtown and back down

through the harbor,” explained Cindy Grover-Nartatez, one of the paddlers for

Wailua Kayak and Canoe. “It then circumnavigated Governor’s Island, kissing the

tip of Liberty Island, past Ellis Island, with a mad sprint across the Hudson

River.”

Media coverage included live television crews, as well as

photographers and reporters from the major television networks, wire services

and publications.

Race organizer Blake Conant, born in Haena and now

residing in Connecticut, was overheard remarking about his longing for a Kaua`i

decal for his Manuiwa team canoe.

Wailua Kayak and Canoe’s team of Jackie

Burke, Donna Kahakui, Mary Brewer, Diane McLane-Hanson, Grover-Nartatez and

Carlene Ornellas took the Masters Division with a second-place finish overall,

covering the course in 2:17:56. Team sponsors included Jose Aguayo and Charlie

King of King Auto Center, Sue Kanoho of the Kaua’i Visitors Bureau, Kaua’i

Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, James Youn, Buddy Peters, Todd Mayer, Louella Lemn,

Linda Pittman and Rio Ogawa of Ogawa Chiropractic.

“We had an encounter of

the worst kind with not one, but three fishing lines off the pier next to the

Brooklyn Bridge,” Grover-Nartatez said. “We eventually cut through and went on

to have a great battle with Team Maui’s mixed crew before pulling ahead of them

on the upwind leg of the course.

Thanks to monitoring by the Coast Guard,

“there were no mishaps and only four huli’s in the three races,” she

reported.

The women of Kaiola Canoe Club took second in the Open Division

and finished fourth overall with a time of 2:23:45. Paddlers included Robin

Jumper, Dawn Gates, Mary Godec, Jennifer Bohner, Anne Alo, and Katie Otsuji.

Team sponsors were the Kaua’i Visitors Bureau, Hyatt Hotels, Ohana Motors and

JJ’s Broiler.

The Hanalei Civic Canoe Club’s Men’s Senior Masters crew took

second in its division with a 10th overall, completing the course in 2:11:04.

Their sponsors were the Kaua`i Visitors Bureau, All Phase Construction,

Callahan Construction, Kai Kane, Hanalei Surf Co. and Back Door Surfboys. Gene

Lopez, one of the Hanalei team’s members, said the race was “a culture shock. I

never saw so many people. And there was no shoreline—just sidewalks all along

the river, filled with people all cheering.”

He said the Hanalei team plans

to race again in New York and hopes East Coast teams will come to Kaua’i for

competition.

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