LIHUE — Local paddlers came together to pay homage to a man the best way possible.
Puuwai Canoe Club hosted its Buddy Peters Long Distance Canoe Race on Saturday.
Both the men’s race and the mixed/women’s race started and finished in Kalapaki Bay. The course was roughly 8 miles long.
“We started off in Kalapaki Bay, the left side of the bay by the Marriott where it’s calm. And then we headed out toward the harbor towards Kipu,” said race coordinator and Puuwai coach Keone Miyake. “And then along the jetty wall, and then we exited the bay and we go towards the lighthouse outside where it was rough. And then we turned around the buoy and we surfed back in. We did two whole laps.”
The races are held in remembrance of Buddy Peters, a founding member of the Puuwai Canoe Club who passed away years ago from cancer.
“This is a great experience. This just touches our heart because my dad’s been paddling for so long. He’s been coaching for so long, and he’s a founder of Puuwai,” said Manu Marchman, Peters’ daughter. “Wailua meant everything to him. Puuwai Canoe Club was so important to him.
“This race was originally the Uncle Bruno Kanahele Race. My dad started it many years back for his dearest friend, Uncle Bruno,” she continued. “Now, they’ve changed it to the Uncle Buddy Race. I think it’s a beautiful memorial for Uncle Bruno and my dad.”
Namolokama’s Unlimited Men’s crew topped the men’s field with a time of 46 minutes and 55 seconds.
“We’re kind of more of a distance crew. Our crew is actually a 40s crew,” said Namolokama Unlimited Men’s crew member Steve Cole. “We wanted to win the overall in the 40s division. This whole crew is trying to do a bunch of competitions throughout the year. … We’re really good with distance and with waves. We can feel the ocean really well.”
Puuwai’s Mixed Open crew was the first to cross the finish line in the mixed/women’s race, finishing with a time of 55 minutes and 32 seconds.
“I told the crew before the race that it was all about mindset,” said Puuwai Mixed Open crew member Bryan Aiwohi Jr. “I think that if you believe you’re going to win no matter what, and you truly believe that thought, that you will win. We weren’t first the whole time, but our team brought it together and pushed through.”
Niumalu’s Open Women crew was the best of the women’s crews with a time of 1 hour, 1 minute and 13 seconds.
“We’ve paddled together for many, many years. But we haven’t done a lot of races this year,” said Niumalu Open Women crew member Robin Jumper. “It’s our first race of the ‘17 season. It’s exciting just to go out and connect as a team, and be together and represent Niumalu.”
The luncheon and awards ceremony was held at Niumalu Canoe Club’s hale near Kalapaki Beach.
“I’ve been part of the paddling community for, I think, 24 years. It is probably the most extraordinary group of people you could be assembled with,” Jumper said. “Even in the pule today, there was so much emotion. It really comes together collectively with the people that participate in the paddling sport.”
The event was originally scheduled to start at Anahola.
The men’s race was going to start in Anahola Bay and at Wailua Beach Park, then the women and mixed crews would start at Wailua and make their way to Kalapaki Bay.
The original course would have been about 12 miles for the men’s crews, and about 11 miles for the mixed and women’s crews.
“Today’s race for Uncle Buddy Peters was more for a celebration, a memorial, for him,” Miyake said. “We wanted the people that came out today to have fun paddling. If we were to have the course that we were planning on, it would have been real challenging for the majority of the people. So, we decided to go with a medium-sized race and keep it fun.”
Miyake added that although he’s the race director, much of the directing was passed on to Puuwai member Kawika Moniz, which allowed Miyake to focus on paddling. He competed with Puuwai’s Unlimited Men’s crew, which was second in the men’s race.
“I was supposed to be coordinator but my father got sick, and he’s in the hospital,” he said. “Kawika Moniz stepped in and took care of all my jobs that we needed to get done.”
Miyake added: “Today, I did tell everybody in the beginning of the race that it was a memorial for Uncle Buddy Peters. But we also paddle for the paddlers that have passed on and for paddlers that cannot paddle right now, and for family members that maybe don’t have the chance to paddle. We’re very fortunate we are able to do this race. Even if it’s rough or you come in last place, it doesn’t matter. We’re still able to be out there in the ocean and race, and keep the people that cannot in your hearts, and it will be a good day.”
Marchman — who is one of four siblings along with Tammy, Tita and Kaiulani — said that if her father was still around to see the race dedicated to him, he’d surely be filled with joy.
“Oh, he’d be so happy. He’d be so happy,” she said. “He would say, ‘Imua, Wailua.’ That was definitely such a positive for him. He would be touched.”
1. Namolokama Unlimited Men, 46:55.0.
2. Puuwai Unlimited Men, 49:42.1.
3. Kukuiula Men 40, 51:33.8.
4. Hokualele Men Open, 54:05.3.
5. Kaiola Men 50s: 55:17.6.
6. Puuwai Open Men, 55:38.2.
7. Kaiola Men 60s, 1:02:09.2.
1. Puuwai Mixed Open, 55:32.5.
2. Kaiola Mixed 50, 55:50.4.
3. Puuwai Mix Master 40, 56:16.7.
4. Niumalu Open Women, 1:01:13.6.
5. Namolokama 40 Women, 1:03:36.3.
6. Kukuiula Open Women, 1:04:00.0.
7. Kaiola 50s Women, 1:04:25.4.
8. Kukuiula Open Women, 1:07:45.7.