LIHUE — Island paddlers gathered to honor a man the best way they know how.
Puuwai Outrigger Canoe Club hosted this year’s Buddy Peters Long Distance Canoe Race on Saturday.
“This is the fourth annual Buddy Peters Long Distance. We created it the year after he died. That’s pretty much the long and short of it,” said Puuwai Club President Brian Curll. “We love a great turnout. I think everyone’s having a nice time.”
The event is in remembrance of Peters, who was a member of the club’s board of directors. He passed away five years ago from cancer.
“He was very kind, very helpful, very caring and quite the teacher of values. Hawaiians, like everybody else, we all have these values. He (became) a very good influence on the younger ones,” said Kula Thaxton, Peters’ sister.
“It honors him to the max,” she said about the annual race. “All these people, if you talk story about Uncle Buddy, their faces light up like a damn flashlight. He exudes a lot of love, and that’s what it’s all about.”
The men began the first half of the race early in the morning at Anahola Bay and made their way to Wailua Beach.
NaMolokama finished first in the Open Men’s division with a time of 1:13:20.9. Puuwai and Hokualele finished second and third, respectively.
“It was a little challenging. Whenever the wind comes on from the left or the right of the canoe, the ama wants to pop up a little bit,” said NaMolokama paddler Mark Frazier. “There was more variables in the race than just straight up paddling — course selection, the wind, the tides and stuff like that.”
Shortly after the men arrived in Wailua, the women and mixed crews took over and raced to Kalapaki Beach.
Kukuiula won the Open Women’s division, timing in at 1:26:34.0, followed by Kawaikini at 1:28:59.2.
“The girls in our crew, three of them, it was the first time that I paddled with them,” said Kukuiula paddler Elle Miyake. “It’s pretty brand new, but everybody clicked towards the beginning. And we gave our all.”
Niumalu finished first in the Open Mixed division with a time of 1:16:22.2. Kukuiula and Hokualele followed.
“The conditions were sticky. It was definitely hot. You can tell that it’s Fourth of July,” said Niumalu paddler Makana Rivera. “We definitely had more wind than yesterday and the days before, which was kind of nice. I don’t know if it’s the swell or what, but it was a sticky, sticky ocean that we paddled in today.”