Kauai Waa took the highest honors of any Kauai-based canoe club in history in the Moloka’i Hoe on earlier this month. The 42-mile race goes from Molokai to Oahu and had over 100 teams. EDT Va’a, from Tahiti, took first place, just seconds ahead of Shell Vaa, the champions for the last eight years. The top finishing Hawaii team was Lanikai Canoe Club in fifth place, followed by Team Primo in sixth, Hui Nalu in seventh, and then Kauai Waa in eighth.
Kauai Waa entered three open crews in the race, each with a crew name representing Kauai’s most famous alii nui. The first finishing Kauai team was Kauai Waa- Moikeha: Tyrus Siale, Mark Frazier, Jody Simpson, Kailoa Forrest, Jessie Palumbo, Mike Thornton, Christian Marston, Hobey Beck and Luke Evslin.
Kauai Waa- Manokalanipo finished in 21st and Kauai Waa- Kukona finished in 86th. Namolokama Canoe Club from Hanalei finished 65th overall and third in the 60+ division.
“The unification of the Kauai clubs for the Molokai Hoe has been a dream of ours for years, and I’m really proud to see it finally happen,” Luke Evslin said, who had a near fatal injury in the 2010 Moloka’i Hoe.
Kauai Waa was a combination of paddlers from Hanalei Canoe Club, Namolokama Canoe Club, Hui O Mana Ka Puuwai, Kukuiula Canoe Club, and Niumalu Canoe Club. For the first time, all of the open programs on Kauai unified under one banner to represent Kauai in the race. The program was coached by Jody Simpson of Namolokama Canoe Club, Luke Evslin of Hui o Mana ka Puuwai, Christian Marston Sr. and Christian Marston Jr. of Hanalei Canoe Club.
The three crews and 27 paddlers of Kauai Waa represented the largest single open contingent of any club in Hawaii.
“I feel that we tried our very best as an all Kauai crew to bring home a result we could be proud of. The effort we put into forming the three Kauai crews could only be matched by the effort we put forth on race day. It just felt right,” Marston Jr. said.
“We really trained together hard this year, and it paid off,” Simpson added.