HANALEI — Henry Tai Hook was smiling from the heavens yesterday as he looked down on his 30th annual event in Hanalei.
“When he passed away, we decided to dedicate this regatta to him,” Hanalei Civic Canoe Club president Skip Forrest said.
It was also fitting to see the hosts of the regatta, Hanalei, winning both the adult and Na ‘Opio overall contests.
“It’s definitely pride in it being your club,” Hanalei club member Mary Mair said. “I love paddling, it’s a wonderful thing in my life.”
Mair said the conditions were perfect except for some pesky downwinds.
“They posed a challenge, especially trying to stay within the flags when we were coming in to the finish line,” she said.
Hanalei scooped up the two koa bowls and sang its club song after officials tallied the final points in favor of the North Shore club.
“This is all for Tai Hook, as we remember the man who touched many lives,” event announcer Marsha King said.
Hook, who still has many ties to current canoe paddlers today, was a generous individual who took pride in making everyone, including outcasts feel the Aloha Spirit.
Black Pot Beach in Hanalei was named after Hook, who used to cook food in his black wok to feed to anyone who had an appetite.
With the sounds of U2 blaring the background, paddlers from around the island were proud to be apart of the annual event.
“It was awesome,” Kilohana Canoe Club paddler Kalani Kilar said. “It was real enjoyable. Everyone stayed later and whenever you’re paddling, you want to support the other clubs. If we can race, we do it.”
Forrest, who has been the Hanalei Civic Canoe Club’s president for a few years, said the future of the sport is in the hands of our youths.
“I look at the kids and want them to get into it and pass it on to them,” Forrest said. “I’ve been able to stay physically fit. I would be 195 pounds if I didn’t paddle.”
On Saturday, Hanalei hosts the annual Tahiti Fete event and Pu‘uwai is hosting its second annual Bright Stars double hull race at the Wailua River, starting at 9 a.m.