History of Excellence

The Hanalei Canoe Club pushed its first boat into the water in 1973, a full 27

years ago.

Of course, it’s not like the members of the new club were

bushy-tailed, wide-eyed pups.

Quite the contrary.

Led by Kawika

Goodale, Hanalei charged to the ocean with vigor, winning the world

championship of outrigger canoeing, the Hinano Moloka’i Hoe, then in its 22nd

year.

Goodale also was part of a team that won the master’s division of the

race in the late 1980s.

Fast forward to the present, and you’ll find that

Goodale has pulled a hat trick of sorts. The senior master’s crew of the

Hanalei Canoe Club finished first in the 2000 edition of the Moloka’i to Oahu

event (and 27th overall, time of 5:45:34) October 8.

“I’ve been

participating in that race since 1973, and I guess I’ve had some success,”

Goodale said. “I’m just glad we’ve got a lot of great guys up here.”

Guys

that don’t just fall into the senior master’s category.

In addition to

picking up the win in the 45 & over grouping – though just two of the

crew’s nine members are under 50 – Hanalei Canoe Club had a remarkable finish

in the open category. The “youngsters” finished 15th overall (5:27:31), a feat

that, if one yields to sentiments of coach Brett Devlin, represents “an

absolutely huge accomplishment.”

“This race is like the olympics for

outrigger canoeing,” said Devlin, the Hanalei coach for the past two years.

“This is it, it’s what all the big-name teams train for. It’s the top of our

sport.”

Taking 15th-place grabs an even more impressive status when one

considers that 102 boats crossed the finish line at Waikiki Beach.

“It’s

exciting to think about Hanalei being right up there with the big boys,” Devlin

said. “We’re talking about big clubs with lots of paddlers to choose from, and

we’re right there with them.”

Indeed, Devlin said that one Oahu club was

able to enter five 9-man teams in the race. Those 45 persons represent 10 more

than comprise the entire Hanalei Canoe Club.

“You think about it,” Devlin

said. “We had 18 guys in the race (two teams of nine). That’s 18 guys out of

just 35 to choose from. It’s an impressive effort.”

Worth noting is the

finish of another Hanalei club, the Poi Boys (open division), who crossed the

line in 22nd place (5:37:29). That means three teams from the underpopulated

Northshore of Kaua’i finished the race in the top 30. That status entitles each

crew to a priority starting position in the 2001 Moloka’i Hoe.

For

competitors, things like starting position and pride comprise that for which

all the preparation and hard work is undertaken. Monetary prizes do not

accompany race victories. For the very best, endorsement opportunity may

present itself, but that, according to Devlin, is rare at best.

“Outrigger

canoeing is the state sport,” Goodale said. “And the Moloka’i race is the

granddaddy of them all.”

That so, Goodale said, because of the demanding

nature of the event.

“It’s really a race where you just have to take what

the elements give you,” Goodale explained. “You start off the coast of

Moloka’i, paddle along the shoreline for a few miles, and then head out into

the channel, one of the more dangerous in the world, and you can’t see

Oahu.

“So you have to navigate your way to the island without

line-of-sight.”

The 2000 race was even more difficult, as 12-foot ocean

swells and stiff 15-25 MPH tradewinds battered crews.

“It takes a lot of

strength and concentration to get the boat through those conditions,” Goodale

said.

About the same strength it has taken the for Hanalei Canoe Club to

come out of the lull its been mired in for the past couple of years.

Devlin said the club was not in top shape four or five years ago, but some

new blood and some success have brought some of the veteran paddlers out of the

woodwork.

“Guys are excited about the club again,” Devlin said.

There

will be even more reason for excitement in the months to come. Goodale said

Hanalei Bay will be the site of next summer’s outrigger state championships. He

said 30 clubs from around the state will converge on the Northshore.

“It’s

really an activity that involves a lot of people, and we want to get the word

out about it,” Goodale said. “There are races for the 10 & unders on up to

the 52 & overs.”

Members of the winning senior master’s crew were

Goodale, Earl Simpson, Mic Callahan, Gene Lopez, Daniel Sullivan, Steve Baker,

Dave Johnson, Togo Hermosura and Mark Daniels.

The Hanalei open crew

members were Devlin, Steve Cole, Brad Cole, Eric Rafter, Paul Frazier, Mark

Frazier, Mike Whitehead, Art Mersberg and Legs Yokotake.

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