News: K-Bay paddle battle: MCB Hawaii, local canoe club co-host canoe regatta
Story by Kristen Wong
KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii — Tents lined the shoreline alongside Hangar 101 as members of Marine Corps Base Hawaii and local residents competed in the annual John D. Kaupiko Regatta, hosted by the base’s canoe club, Na Koa Lani Outrigger Canoe Club, and Honolulu-based Hui Nalu Canoe Club, July 14, 2013.
More than a dozen canoe clubs from around Oahu competed in more than 40 divisions, paddling through Kaneohe Bay for first place. Each race’s distance ranged from one-fourth of a mile to a mile and a half.
“It’s one of the best venues on the island,” said Hank Leandro, co-head coach of Kailua Canoe Club. “We appreciate (the fact that) we can race out here (with a) level playing field (and) no adverse conditions.”
Leandro, whose club earned several first place wins that day, encouraged service members to get involved in paddling, and by
doing so, participate in Hawaiian culture.
Na Koa Lani OCC is currently awaiting official membership in the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association, which was required to enter this regatta, so Na Koa Lani paddlers entered as part of local club Keola
O Ke Kai.
Na Koa Lani paddlers, like Kailua resident Sara Quitt, also took the opportunity to recruit members while attending the regatta. Quitt competed in the Women’s Novice A division for Keola O Ke Kai. A member of Na Koa Lani OCC, Quitt remarked the day had “reasonable conditions, a little bit breezy,” and she was excited to compete for a second year.
Quitt trained six days a week for the regatta, and made sure one day prior to the race to have a good meal and a good night’s sleep, with plenty of hydration and protein.
Teammates cheered each other on as the crews dug deep into the water with their canoe paddles, in synchronized rhythm. Upon
returning, team members held their arms over their teammates, creating a makeshift tunnel for them to walk through, presenting them with leis and congratulating them.
Petty Officer 1st Class Ron Lilley, an aviation structural mechanic safety equipmentman with Patrol Squadron 9, returned to shore after the race, splashing back to the sand, paddle in hand and a smile on his face. Lilley competed in the 11th race, the Men’s Novice B division, with Kailua Canoe Club. The club came in second place for the Men’s Novice B division, with a time of 1 minute, 46.65.
“We really came together as a team,” Lilley said. “We were on point, and we kept it the whole way, gave it all we got.”
Lilley, of Fountain Valley, Calif., said he joined a canoe club to encourage the preservation of local culture and also for the camaraderie. Though canoe paddling practice is time consuming and demanding, Lilley enjoys the sport, even in competition.
“If we’re not having fun, it’s not worth it,” he said.
The regatta was named after Lukela “John D” Kaupiko, who coached Hui Nalu Canoe Club for nearly 30 years until his death in 1962. The Kaupiko Regatta is just one of numerous races hosted by canoe clubs in OHCRA. The OHCRA Championship is scheduled July 21 at Keehi Lagoon in Honolulu. For more information, visit http://www.ohcra.com.