Evslin paddles to state title

Not having enough funds isn’t a good thing at all, but for Wailua’s Luke Evslin, the lack of money turned out to be a good omen.

The 21-year-old University of Hawai‘i student recently claimed the overall title 2006 Kanaka Ikaika State Championships on O‘ahu.

He clocked in with a time of 3:13:34.7 in the men’s OC-1 Long Course race.

He also topped the men’s 21-29 contest, over fellow Kauaian Kelly Foster (3:14:37.4).

Evslin, who has been traveling a lot during recent weeks, basically ran out of money for a trip to Maui for a race, but staying on O‘ahu paid off.

“I was super stoked. It was a really brutal race. I took the lead earlier than I wanted to, so the whole race there were people right behind me. I was just super relieved and stoked. It was real nice to have both of us in first and second,” Evslin said.

For the win, Evslin garnered a pair of slippers, a medal, and a T-shirt, but the thrill of his biggest win so far in his nine-year paddling career is the greatest reward.

“I was really hoping for the win. Four O‘ahu guys consistently beat me. Kelly has been doing super good.

At practice he’s been beating me pretty consistently.

I thought it was going to be his day. I tried to run away from him, but I couldn’t at first. This is definitely my biggest win,” Evslin said.

History and business are his majors at UH, but his biggest business may be his pursuit, along with fellow Kauaians, Foster and Keizo Gates, to start up a canoe-building venture.

“The China boats are not very good quality. We’re going to try to be first in Hawai‘i to make good quality canoes,” Evslin said.

“I’ve always loved it. It’s all about pushing yourself, almost like meditation,” he continued.

Throughout the season, he’s been training straight through and coming into this last month, Evslin’s been turning up the heat.

Up next is the Expedia.com Kaua‘i World Challenge, which finishes off at Salt Pond Beach on May 13.

Evslin is also taking part in the Moloka‘i solo race, which is right after the Kaua‘i contest.

Evslin, whose father is the former president and CEO of Wilcox Health, has been quickly establishing himself in the paddling world, finishing second in the Kaua‘i Hoe Wa‘a island championships on April 23.

• Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or kauaisports@kauaipubco.com.

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