Aloha mai kakou!
We extend a heartfelt welcome to all our paddlers, young and old, novice and experienced, as we begin our 2015 season. Our first week of practice began with many familiar and new faces coming together to pule and acknowledge our kupuna, those who came before us and made it imperative for us to malama such a culturally significant and spiritual place. Mahalo Akua for the blessings of ‘ohana, for our health, for the beauty and abundance of our ‘aina, and for the aloha that we share paddling our sacred waters.
While training and conditioning for a rigorous competitive schedule –close to 20 races between May and October – we have several other events and activities on our calendar.
First of these is our 34th Annual Mac-A-Thon 5K & 10K Race on Saturday, April 4th in Honaunau. This is one of our major fundraisers and requires the participation of all our members and supporters in soliciting donations for our silent auction, clean-up of the race course between Honaunau & Napo‘opo‘o, preparing individual race packets, race registration & timing, set-up and decoration of our stage area, preparing/serving our delicious pancake breakfast to all entrants, and handing out awards.
At some point before the Mac-A-Thon, we will have a brief, informal blessing of our club’s first canoe, Keoua, which, after more than 40 years of faithful service, was completely restored by our kalaiwa‘a, Kurtis Yamauchi. Our canoes are integral members of our ‘ohana and it is befitting that we honor and care for our distinguished elders.
Keoua, a Malia-class fiberglass canoe, was one of 10 canoes purchased by the County of Hawai‘i in the early ‘70s, and distributed among the various Moku o Hawai‘i clubs. Before 1980, all regattas except the State Races were in fiberglass canoes, so Keoua entered and won many races until 1980, after which all regattas required the use of a koa canoe, and she was from that time used as a practice canoe. So come down to our halau and take a look at a living piece of our club history. Better yet, breathe in the mana she radiates when we take her back out into our waters!
As with all sports, the overall level of paddlers’ fitness and conditioning has improved dramatically over the years. There have also been many changes in paddling styles, race categories & classifications, and canoe design. This year, Keoua will welcome into our fold a new “unlimited class” Makika canoe, currently being built by Tiger Canoes. It will weigh well under 200 lbs. and usher in a new era of competition, so get in shape and work hard for the opportunity to paddle in this canoe. As with all new canoes, there will be a christening and blessing to celebrate its birth.
Fast-forwarding to August 22nd, we will be hosting the 29th Annual Calvin Kelekolio Long Distance Race. Honoring one of our first coaches, this event brings together paddlers from our island as well as guest paddlers from the neighbor islands, U.S. continent and Aotearoa. Complemented with music and our legendary pa‘ina, it is one of the high points on everyone’s race calendar.
We are also raising funds for entering the Pailolo Challenge, 25 miles across the channel between Maui and Moloka‘i, held in mid-September. This event requires much advance planning and expenditure for hotel accommodations, travel arrangements, escort boat and entry fees, so now is the time for interested paddlers to commit and begin working towards this goal.
In addition to this exciting schedule, we have the day-to-day maintenance of our equipment and halau grounds, the collection and sorting of HI-5 recyclables which fund our children’s program, and a pending request to ANA for funds to restore and rebuild the Hale o Ho‘oponopono in our canoe lot near the boat ramp. All of these are an integral part of our stewardship of Honaunau Bay and perpetuation of our cultural legacy, so we welcome and urge you to take an active role in any way you can.
Mahalo for being a part of our Keoua ‘Ohana.
– Rafael Ramirez, President and Head Coach