HANALEI — NaMolokama Canoe Club hosted Saturday’s Kauai Outrigger Association regatta at Hanalei Bay.
Seven KOA clubs took part in the Na Opio races, or keiki divisions, and nine clubs raced in the adult races. A total of 44 races took place.
“Beautiful. We had a great day and a great turnout,” said NaMolokama club president Hobey Beck. “Everything’s running smoothly. We started on time and we’re just marching through the day.”
Beck didn’t just observe from the beach. He, too, participated in races.
“I paddled in a freshmen and sophomore race, then (I was) running the announcement booth. Paddled two of them with my son. Now, he’s paddling the senior race as well,” he said. “It was a beautiful morning. Calm winds in the morning. The winds picked up here in the afternoon, which makes a faster run going down, a hard turn and a harder time going back up.”
Hanalei, paddling in its new koa wood canoe, took first place in the Junior Women’s race, followed by Kauaikini and NaMolokama.
“I’m feeling really good. I did a race earlier and it was a lot more windy, but this one was a lot smoother,” said Hanalei paddler Kapua Chandler right after the Junior Women’s race. “It felt like everybody was together.”
Chandler said that racing in the new canoe holds special meaning for her because it’s named after her auntie, Kainoa Forrest.
“I love it. I was renamed after my auntie, my dad’s sister, who used to be our head women’s coach here,” she said. “It’s an honor being in there. It feels like she’s with me when we’re riding. It’s a very special moment to be out there on the water with her.”
Later in the day, Puuwai won the Senior Men’s race, followed by Hanalei and NaMolokama.
“It was pretty flat, but on the way back (there was) head win. So, it was challenging,” said Puuwai paddler Keone Miyake. “For our crew, we’ve been paddling together for a couple of years. I’m the oldest guy in the crew. I’m 43. We had one guy today, it’s his birthday today. He’s 21. These boys have been paddling together since they were 12 years old.
“It was a good blend with the guys. Good energy. Our coach Luke Evslin, he’s a very good, technical coach. He’s been training us up pretty good,” he continued.
The next KOA regular season regatta will take place in two weeks at Hanalei Bay, which will be hosted by the Koloa club.
Full results: koapaddler.org.