Star-Bulletin Sports

Sunday, July 28, 2002


Hawaiian Club ready
to defend crown

By Cindy Luis

This coming Saturday will be special ... for a number of reasons.

Not only will the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association celebrate its 50th state championship but, for the first time in nearly 20 years, a neighbor island club will come in as the defending champion.

Hawaiian Canoe Club, based out of Kahului, Maui, will bring confidence, the most entries as well as a new koa canoe to Hilo Bay. At yesterday's lane drawing at the Punahou School Alumni House, Hawaiian pulled for 35 lanes out of a possible 37 races.

"We're really excited," said Diane Ho, president of Hawaiian Canoe Club. "We haven't been doing anything different this year than we normally do. We always train hard.

"But I think we came back with a greater focus. Everyone is pretty much working really hard to build on what we were able to do last year."

Last August on Hanalei Bay, Hawaiian finished with 315 points to dethrone defending champion Lanikai (303 points). It was only the second time a non-Oahu club had won the state championship and the first since Hanalei was victorious in 1982.

Ho will be steering the women's masters-55 crew. It will be the first time that she -- or any of Hawaiian's crews -- race in the newly blessed Pahili Kiu.

A week ago Saturday, Hawaiian dominated the Maui County Hawaiian Canoe Association with 20 wins in 34 races. A day later, the club had a blessing for the new canoe, which was created out of a log harvested in Upcountry Maui.

"It was an awesome, very traditional blessing," said Ho. "Kumu John Lake was there and his family actually started Hawaiian Canoe Club. What was more 'chicken skin' was that, unbeknownst to us, where we had harvested the koa log was near where their family roots are, where their family took care of the heiau.

"Pahili Kiu is a wind that wraps around Maui, and it means that no matter what happens, it won't be blown off course. No one's been in the canoe except for the five who took it out for the blessing. How will it race? No one has a clue."

Hawaiian will have two canoes available to race. The club also shipped its 50-year-old koa that has been in competitions since the 1960s.

The canoe has nothing on two paddlers who competed in the first state race 50 years ago and who will be on the water Saturday. Hannie Anderson of Waikiki Surf Club and Keanuenue Rochlen of Outrigger Canoe Club will be racing in the women's masters-55 division.

The two, along with longtime Surf Club stalwart Wally Froiseth, will be honored prior to Saturday's regatta.

Of the 67 clubs statewide, 52 will be in at least one event. Seven clubs are in the AAA division (18-35 crews), 13 in the AA division (9-17) and 32 in the A division (1-8).

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