The seventh annual Aunty Maile Mauhili/Moku O Hawaii Outrigger Canoe Racing Association championships Saturday at Hilo Bay double as a tribute to paddling’s matriarch, who has spent her life dedicated to a sport she holds dear to her heart, and a final showdown, where mad dashes are the order of the day.
For more than a half century, Maile Mauhili has shared her love for canoe paddling with others as a paddler (starting as an 11-year-old in March 1946), coach, race organizer, and official for Moku O Hawaii and the Hawaii Canoe Racing Association — the state’s paddling governing body.
She is currently the Kailana Canoe Club coach and Moku O Hawaii’s executive secretary, still going strong and entering
her 37th year of coaching. Even when the Moku O Hawaii season concludes, Aunty Maile is still coaching. She also serves as Hilo High’s canoe paddling coach.
Meanwhile, the Aunty Maile championships are a last-dash effort for the 13 clubs to qualify for one of the three lanes in each event at the Hawaii Canoe Racing Association state regatta, which will take place Aug. 4 at Oahu’s Keehi Lagoon.
Last year, Keauhou and Puna won the AAA (13 to 20 events) and AA (seven to 12 races) division state titles, respectively. Also, Kawaihae fell one point short of the A division (one to six events) title.
Eight Big Island crews — Kai Opua’s girls 12, boys 15, and mixed men and women; Keauhou’s masters women 60, masters men 60, and mixed masters 55; Keaukaha’s boys 13; and Puna’s open four men — won state crowns last year. All of those crews have qualified for the state regatta, except for Keaukaha’s boys 13 and Puna’s open four men. In Keaukaha’s case, those 13 boys have jumped an age into the boys 14 canoe.
Keauhou is comfortably in first with 85 points, followed by Kai Opua with 76 points, and Keaukaha, which won last week’s regatta, with 74 points. Puna has 66 points, suffering a costly disqualification (zero points) three weeks ago.
Onward to a much more positive and sunny outlook.
There are nine unbeaten Moku O Hawaii crews: Waiakea’s boys 15; Keauhou’s sophomore men, masters men 40, mixed masters 55; and a conglomerate of Kai Opua powers with its novice B women, girls 16, boys 16, boys 18 and freshman women.
There are no sure things in life, except for death, taxes and rain in Hilo, but the nine perfect crews can start to make flight
arrangements to Oahu. Unless, of course, cows start flying and major upsets turn the day upside down.
But the real fun is watching the race for third place. It’s the ultimate do-or-die — win and advance to states; lose and stay home.
Here’s a scorecard primer for close races to watch:
c Girls 12: Kai Ehitu first with 71 points, Kai Opua second with 65 points.
Battle for third: Paddlers of Laka and Keauhou tied with 51 points.
c Mixed 12: Kai Opua (81) first, Kawaihae (73).
Battle for third: Keaukaha (64) third, Kai Ehitu (61) fourth.
c Novice B women: unbeaten Kai Opua (54) first, Puna (38) and Kai Ehitu (38) tied for second.
Battle for third: Kawaihae (36) fourth.
c Girls 14: Kai Opua (70) first, Kai Ehitu (58) second.
Battle for third: Keaukaha (57) third, Kawaihae (55) fourth.
c Mixed novice B: Hanakahi (59) first, Kai Ehitu (58) second.
Battle for third: Keauhou (51) third, Puna (48) fourth.
c Novice A women: Keauhou (55) first, Puna (39) second.
Battle for third: Kawaihae (34) third, Kai Opua (33) fourth.
c Novice A men: Keauhou (30) first, Puna (27) second.
Battle for third: Kawaihae (25) third, Kai Opua (20) fourth.
c Freshmen women: unbeaten Kai Opua (41), Kawaihae (28) second.
Battle for third: Puna (22) third, Keauhou (21) fourth.
c Freshmen men: Keauhou (63) first, Kai Opua (47) second.
Battle for third: Puna (46) third, Kamehameha (42) fourth.
c Junior men: Keauhou (47) first, Kai Opua (34) second.
Battle for third: Puna (33) third, Kamehameha (29) fourth.
c Women masters women 40: Kai Opua (50) first, Keaukaha (34) second.
Battle for third: Puna (34) third, Kamehameha (32) fourth, Kawaihae (29) fifth.
c Masters men 40: unbeaten Keauhou (54) first, Keaukaha (44) second.
Battle for third: Puna (43) third, Waiakea (38) fourth, Kai Opua (36) fifth.
c Mixed masters 50: Kawaihae (34) first, Keaukaha (28) second.
Battle for third: Keauhou (24) third, Laka (21) fourth.
c Open four women: Kawaihae (84) first, Kai Opua (73) second.
Battle for third: Puna (69) third, Keaukaha (64) fourth.
If there’s one race to watch, it’s probably the masters women 40, which has been somewhat a roller-coaster, season-long affair.
Kai Opua has won six of the eight races. Keaukaha got one gold, and Puna had the other. Fourth-place Kamehameha has not figured out how to beat third-place Puna, unless Puna got hit with a DQ, which happened twice.
In the last week’s Puna regatta, the host crew of Raene Aki, Mamo Brown, Aunty Jen Holani, Kim Rowe, Shannon Takabayashi and Trevella Williams clocked in at 9 minutes, 4.75 seconds, far ahead of Kamehameha’s 9:08.75 and Kai Opua’s 9:12.59.