WAIMEA — Brisk winds and heavy chop created excitement for the first race of the paddling season Saturday.
“With this kind of wind, it’ll take about an hour to finish,” Hualani Duncan, one of the Kilohana Canoe Club organizers, estimated. “But the paddlers need to watch because if they go too far out, the wind will work against them.”
More than 15 canoes took to the water early Saturday morning for the Kilohana Canoe Club Warren Resquer Race and the Garden Island Canoe Racing Association’s season-opening race fronting the Waimea Pier.
Coinciding with the annual Waimea Town Celebration, the pule started at 8 a.m. for the benefit of the visitors who braved the morning chill to witness the canoes enter the chocolate-brown water.
Paddlers vied for special koa trophies fashioned by Kane and Gaylynn Turalde, and for the time, those handsome trophies were laid down to prevent inadvertent wind damage.
The Niumalu Canoe Club aboard the Alapai completed the Open Women division in 1:03.01, almost three minutes ahead of second-place finisher Pu‘uwai, which crossed at 1:06.17. Third-place honors went to the Hanalei Canoe Club aboard the Hui Ohana, with a time of 1:08.27.
Namolokama Canoe Club was the sole Open Mixed team that crossed aboard the Kekaha at 57:50. Pu‘uwai, aboard Coconuts, was the only Women’s Masters crew, and finished the Waimea-to-Kaumakani course in 1:14.34.
Namolokama women aboard Keanae made up the lone Women’s Senior Masters team and finished at 1:17.16. Pu‘uwai Canoe Club, aboard Nai‘a Uliuli, was the sole Masters Mixed crew and finished at 1:01:05.
In the Open Men competition, Namolokama Canoe Club team aboard Tahiti Nui topped the race at 51:50 over second finisher Pu‘uwai, which crossed in Kukui O Keokeo O Wailua at 52:03. Kai‘ola Canoe Club aboard Hina I Uka was third at 54:09.
Kai‘ola, aboard Kanaloa, was the sole Men’s Masters crew that crossed at 57:09 and a Kai‘ola team aboard KaimanaAloha was the only Mens Senior Masters crew with a 56:17 crossing.
Duncan said they owe a debt of gratitude to all the clubs and paddlers who took part in the Saturday race.
“Thank you to the Resquer Ohana of Makaweli, Waimea High School Outrigger Paddlers and Kilohana Canoe Club Coach Kane and Gaylynn Turalde, as well as all Kilohana members, and we cannot forget Napua, our race official,” Duncan said. “This was the biggest race we’ve had thus far, and we look forward to a great year and a fun season.”