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Paddler repays trust with success


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POSTED: Friday, July 31, 2009

HILO » Waikiki Surf Club coach Luana Froiseth makes it a point not to lend out her paddles.

However, one of the outrigger canoe club's up-and-coming young paddlers proved the exception to Froiseth's rule.

Kaleopa'a Vares, a 14-year-old steersman in his second year of paddling with the club, did not have a blade of his own as his family had a hard time affording one. After earning her trust, Froiseth allowed him to borrow a steering blade.

Following tomorrow's Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association State Championship Regatta at Hilo Bay, Vares won't have to worry about borrowing paddles. He'll have a new one to call his own.

Six of Hawaii's top up-and-coming paddlers will be honored with special Kialoa brand paddles tomorrow in a ceremony prior to the state championship regatta. The paddlers—one from each participating division—were selected after being nominated by their respective clubs. The prizes were awarded based not only on the paddlers' performances, but also on dedication to their clubs, community service efforts and providing a positive example for others to follow.

“;I usually don't loan out my paddles because sometimes they don't come back,”; Froiseth said. “;He takes very good care of them, washes them after practice, and he's a really good kid. He will respect the paddle, and getting an award like that.”;

Vares earned the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association's award after drawing high praise from Froiseth and fellow club mates for taking great pride in caring for the club's koa canoe, affectionately named “;Tutu.”; The canoe was built by Froiseth and her father, Wally, and has been used routinely since 1995.

“;As a young child I started to work with my dad working on canoes, and when Kaleopa'a came to the club, he was really interested and wanted to learn,”; said Froiseth. “;We try to perpetuate the sport of canoe paddling, and he's really learned to respect the sport.”;

Vares began to take an interest in canoe building and maintenance after listening to Froiseth's stories and experiences gained from working with her father.

“;It's very interesting to hear those stories because it makes me feel good inside, and to feel welcome with the club,”; Vares said. “;When I use Aunty Luana's paddle, I always feel the mana (power). I feel special to use it, and if I do get the (award) I will feel very honored.”;

Vares will represent his club in the boys 13 race tomorrow after the club earned a lane in the race as an alternate when one of the original crews to earn a berth scratched. The freshman-to-be at Kaimuki High School looks forward to his first official state competition, and representing his club's emerging youth program.

“;We're doing pretty good (in practice), and we've been doing our push-ups, running and eating the right foods,”; said Vares. “;We listen to our coach because she knows what makes a winning crew. It's been fun and that's what it's all about.”;

Jaslynne Chang of the Imua One Blade Canoe Club earned the award for Oahu's Na 'Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a organization. Chang began paddling in 2008, but was not able to compete because of academic problems in school.

Chase VonNordheim, a 16-year-old with Big Island club Kai Opua, won the Moku O Hawaii Outrigger Canoe Racing Association's award. Kawehi Kaina of the Kahana Canoe Club claimed the Maui County Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association award.

Kauai's Garden Island Canoe Racing Association paddler Jazzlynn Kawai Pascua of the Kilohana Canoe Club garnered her league's award.