Ready, set, paddle!

LIHUE — The preseason is now over. The real races are just around the corner.

The Puuwai Outrigger Canoe Club hosted the final Kauai Outrigger Association preseason regatta races Saturday at Kalapaki Beach.

“The swell is low, but it’s there. It’s not too much for the keiki,” said Puuwai vice president, coach and paddler Rocco April. “We had some really good, close races.”

In addition to ending the preseason, the Puuwai event recognized this year’s high school graduates — not only did they graduate high school, but they also moved on from the kids division to the adult class.

“That’s a big transition for them,” April said. “They start to get used to it around (age) 15-16, up to 18. They start to do turns and start to do multiple lengths. Instead of just a quarter-mile, they’ll do half a mile, and the older kids will do a mile-and-a-half. That’s to get them ready for the bigger races.”

“It was funny. He (race director Keone Miyake) congratulated the class, but then he also congratulated the parents on getting their kids through,” April added.

The KOA regular season begins June 13 at the Hanalei Pavilion Beach Park. Races will begin at 8 a.m.

Niumalu won first place in both the adult races and Na Opio races, or kids division.

“We had a good day today. The conditions were perfect, and the kids had fun,” said Niumalu coach and paddler Paris Racca. “Our kids, we’ve been training since March getting them into shape. We just get them to do the best they can do. That’s all that matters. At the end of the day, after we’re (done) paddling, all of these people here are all our friends.”

“Our kids, they’re so awesome. They amaze us,” he added. “Some of them just started paddling this year. They’re doing really well. I’m just so proud of them. They trained hard.”

Niumalu got 133 points in the Na Opio races. Puuwai was second with 122 points, and Kilohana was third with 98 points.

The kids divisions range from 10-and-under to 18-and-under races.

In the adult races, Niumalu accumulated 222 points. Puuwai got 205 points for second place, and Kaiola placed third with 202 points.

Full results: koapaddler.org.

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