GICRA out in force on Oahu

HONOLULU — The Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association State Championship regatta races on Oahu begin today and Kauai will be well represented.

Six clubs from the Garden Island Canoe Racing Association will be participating at the Hui Wa`a Keehi Lagoon in Honolulu.

“I just want to watch the races and see what the crews on Oahu can do,” said Puuwai club coach and paddler Rocco April, who will take part in the Men’s Open 4 event.

Puuwai will have four crews in five events. April said his club was focused on getting past physical and mental barriers during practices leading up to states.

“We got one more practice to get things right,” the Puuwai coach said. “Mainly, we’re just pushing ourselves to go beyond limits. Push beyond what our brain tells us. We have to paddle harder and push through.”

April added he looks forward to how the events will unfold for his club’s boys 12-and-under and boys 14-and-under crews.

“Very excited to be able to go with them and see them blossom. It’s going to be great to get those guys experience, see what the state has to offer and get those kids to exposed to that level of racing,” he said.

Of the six clubs from Kauai, Hanalei will will bring the most paddlers. The North Shore club will participate in 20 events and will have about 80 padders present, said club secretary Mary Mair.

Hanalei paddler Julie Wallace, 74, will participate in the 60 Women’s race. This will be the sixth time she has paddled at states.

“Just the intensity of the competition is just more mentally (exhausting) and more exciting,” Wallace said. “It’s pretty awesome to be able to do that with an incredible group of women. I’m incredibly awed by that and very grateful I can still do it.

“I’m looking forward to having a lot of fun and cheering on all of the teams,” she added.

Kilohana will have five crews on Oahu.

“They’ve been doing good. When we bring crews to states, it’s a big thing,” said Kilohana club founder and adviser Kane Turalde. “They have the ability to win states. Normally, our crews place top three at least … Anytime we can place top three, that’s even more fantastic.

“When we go, we’re one island … Especially on Kauai, we come from the same legacy in canoe paddling,” he added.

Kaiola will have one crew participating in the boys 16-and-under event. For all of the crew’s paddlers, it will be their first time racing at states.

“In the beginning of the season, our practices weren’t really as harsh. Now that we have states, practices are more intense,” said 15-year-old Kaiola paddler Dylan Wakano. “Whatever happens happens. I’m mostly here for the experience and to be here with my friends. I hope we have a great time.”

“They’ve been training hard … They’re extremely excited and ready to paddle hard,” added Kaiola coach Lori Parraga.

Hanalei

60 Women, Girls 12, Girls 13, Boys 13, Girls 14, Boys 14, Novice B Women, Girls 15, Boys 16, Boys 18, Novice A Women, Novice A Men, Freshmen Women, Freshmen Men, Junior Women, Women 55, Men 55, Men 50, Open 4 Women, Open 4 Men

Kaiola

Boys 15

Koloa

Boys 15, Boys 16

Niumalu

Boys 12, Girls 13, Boys 13, Girls 15, Girls 16, Girls 18

Puuwai

Boys 12, Boys 14, Sophomore Men, Senior Men, Open 4 Men

Kilohana

Girls 12, Mixed 12, Girls 14, Boys 14, Girls 16

Source: GICRA race director Dana Miyake

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