WAIMEA —The team of Namolokama Outrigger Canoe Club easily won the Waimea Town Celebration’s long-distance canoe race mixed crews division on Saturday morning.
As Jody Simpson, Ella Beck, Hobey Beck, Mark Frazier, Kristen Foster and Alana Goo-Frazier pulled their final strokes before cheering fans watching from the Waimea Pier, their lead stretched close to at least a quarter-mile, perhaps even a half-mile.
They weren’t expecting that, but they’ll take it — quickly adding it’s a long season ahead.
“This was the first race of the season,” said Goo-Frazier as the team chatted, recovered and enjoyed their victory after coming to shore. “You never really know where you’re going to end up until you go out there and try it.”
Hobey Beck said winning by such a large margin can have drawbacks — like a bull’s-eye on your back.
“It’s more motivating for the people that get second. They’re like, ‘We’re going to get them.’ When you get first, you’re kind of like, ‘Yeah we’re all right,’” he said.
Ella Beck, a fine runner, took the number-five seat behind her dad on the team.
It was a solid race, she said, and it felt good to win.
Competing on the circular course with about 15 teams of women and mixed crews, Namolokama Outrigger Canoe Club pulled away fast and furious under nearly perfect conditions of sunshine, a calm ocean and a slight breeze. They finished in 50 minutes and 40 seconds.
“They’re putting on a clinic,” said one fan watching from the pier.
The traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe race is one of WTC’s most popular events, and has a loyal following.
“These guys are pretty amazing, how fast they can cover that course in any conditions,” said Kevin Johnson, a visitor from Canada who said he and his family come to the canoe races and more WTC activities each year.
Not even a close encounter with a humpback whale and her baby could throw them off their rhythm.
“It threw a scare at us,” Hobey Beck said.
He credited Goo-Frazier, manning the important number-one seat, with setting a strong stroke, start to finish.
“Everyone just kind of followed her,” said Beck, who was to compete in the men’s race next.
Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or email@example.com.