Molokai at the State Paddling Championships
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
Two weeks ago, Molokai hosted the state paddling championships event on Oahu and came home with both strong results and excellent reviews for hosting the event that brings thousands of paddlers from around Hawaii.
For more than 60 years, the Hawaii Canoe Racing Association has held the state paddling championships. The organization, made up of six paddling associations, represents athletes from all islands, carrying on the Hawaiian tradition of outrigger canoe racing. Each year, paddling associations trade off hosting the event, and this year, it was Molokai’s turn. Normally the venue rotates based on which island is hosting, but because Molokai doesn’t have a race location large enough to accommodate the event, it was held at Oahu’s Ke`ehi Lagoon.
Concerns about debris and poor water quality following runoff from Tropical Storm Darby threatened to cancel the race, but it moved forward thanks to the efforts of volunteer paddlers on Oahu. They cleaned the site and many said it looked better than it had in years. The bacterial level in the water was tested, and though it was deemed a concern, canoe clubs voted in favor of still holding the race.
First aid stations and foot washing facilities were provided as a precaution again contamination, and paddlers were urged to use caution and carefully care for any open cuts.
“The lagoon seems much cleaner than it was all these years,” said Molokai paddler Annette Colipano English. “All the tents had pools of … water for everyone to wash their feet when they came out of each race.”
Molokai’s Penny Martin said a few of the large canoe clubs dropped out because of the water quality situation but that didn’t stop the remaining crews from competing.
“Those that were there were there in good spirits and it was a good situation and uplifted each other,” she said, adding that there “was a nice camaraderie.”
Molokai sent 10 crews to the race, representing both men and women ages 14 to over 60 – two crews from Molokai Canoe Club and eight from Wa`akapaemua Canoe Club. Wa`akapaemua’s Womens’ Masters 60 crew brought home the best results of the day with a third place finish. Without a coach this season, English said they worked hard at practices and came together as a group.
The Molokai Canoe Racing Association partnered with The Molokai Dispatch to incorporate the race program into the paper, and 2,000 copies were distributed at the event.
“There was a good presence of Molokai in the house,” said Martin. “Everyone appreciated the newspaper. We had nice feedback from people, and a lot of good support [for hosting the event].”
In addition, three Molokai vendors attended the event to sell locally-made jewelry and clothing.
“The sales were good, it was very successful,” said Tania Kaholoaa of Kainanea sportswear. “Social media brought a lot of people. They came looking for Molokai vendors.”
Molokai Girls 14 — 7th
Waa Girls 13 — 7th
Waa Girls 15 — 6th
Waa Freshmen women — 8th
Waa Junior Women — 6th
Waa Women Masters 60 — 3rd
Molokai Men Masters 60 — 9th
Waa Women Golden Masters 55 — 5th
Waa Women Open 4 — 6th
Waa Men Open 4 — 5th