The First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA State Paddling Championships will be held Friday at Ke’ehi Lagoon Beach Park and new perpetual trophies awarded to the winning crews. A total of 63 Hawai’i high schools will compete for the titles of HHSAA Varsity Boys, Varsity Girls, and Varsity Mixed Champions.
“We are proud to be the sponsor of the HHSAA State Paddling Tournament,” said Don Horner, president of First Hawaiian Bank. “Athletics have a positive impact on students. In particular, the traditional Hawaiian sport of canoe paddling teaches our children teamwork.”
Now in the second year statewide, over 2,000 students participated in high school outrigger canoe paddling programs. It is the sixth largest high school sport in the state.
“We are very pleased at the high level of participation statewide and its popularity among female student-atheletes, which represent nearly 60 percent of the students paddling.” said Keith Amemiya, executive director of the Hawai’i High School Athletic Association.
New, perpetual trophies donated by master woodworker and canoe builder, Wright Elemakule Bowman, Sr., will be presented at the award ceremony.
A trophy will be awarded to the varsity boys, girls and mixed winning crews in the HHSAA State Paddling Tournament. Mr. Bowman, along with Sam “Steamboat” Mokuahi, initiated the movement to provide canoe paddling in Hawai’i’s high schools in 1965. The trophies are named after Mr. Bowman, a living legend in the canoeing community.
“I am so pleased that canoe paddling is now an official high school sport,” said Wright Elemakule Bowman, Sr. “It is an honor to recognize Hawai’i’s students as they perpetuate Hawaiian culture through participating in our state sport.”
The first preliminary begins at 10 a.m. as the Varsity Boys kick-off the HHSAA competition.
Sixty-two high school teams from OIA, ILH, BIIF, MIL and KIF will compete “head to head” to advance to the finals and a chance to become an HHSAA Champion. The finals are expected to begin at approximately 3 p.m.
The HHSAA State Paddling Championships are coordinated by the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association (HCRA) and Na Opio Canoe Racing Association (N.O.C.R.A.). HCRA is a statewide, non-profit organization, which supports the statewide high school program through its affiliate member, N.O.C.R.A.
For over 25 years, N.O.C.R.A. has provided a community-based program for children and has sponsored the public high schools program since 1998.