HILO — On flat, gentle Hilo Bay waters that resembled a blank canvas, eight crews turned in technical masterpieces at the seventh annual Aunty Maile Mauhili/Moku O Hawaii Outrigger Canoe Racing Association championships, establishing new records and starring in the sunshine.
With barely a trace of Tropical Storm Emilia present on Saturday, the morning conditions were itching for fast times, and crews from Kai Opua, Kai Ehitu, Keauhou and Puna complied.
In the first race of the day, Kai Ehitu’s girls 12 crew (Kealoha Dinson, Tatiana Macomber, Olivia McKellar, Tanya Penovaroff-Diaz, Nayeli Silva-Kahalewai and Teagan Travalino) set the first record, finishing the quarter-mile course in 2 minutes and 4.80 seconds.
That was fast; so, too, were the times of tailgaters Paddlers of Laka’s 2:06.99 and Kai Opua’s 2:07.89, which were also record times.
Just two races later, Kai Opua’s girls 13 crew put its name in the record book. Paddling in harmony, Aaliyah Butler, Danielle Gramlich, Taimane Kamaka, Eleashia Kealoha, Nala Mrozinski-Foti and Zoey Vera Cruz clocked in at 1:57.53.
Then the distance doubled in size, and more records were set, starting six events later with the girls 15, a contest Kai Opua’s crew of Jaylynne Fowler, Nora Frank, Megan Kaipo, Jessica Lloyd, Makamae Quinn and Justyce Torres knocked out in 4:20.38.
It was Keauhou’s turn two races later, in the novice B men, a half-mile race for rookie and second-year paddlers. The six-pack of Peter Dahlberg, Dustan Esteban, Donald Goings, Mikah Pada, Nicholas Schenk and Todd Wanke soared through the finish line in 3:43.79.
Then Kai Opua stepped to the plate, again, and made Melanie Kelekolio, who coaches the 15 to 18 girls, proud as can be.
The West Hawaii locomotive went 3-for-3, winning the next three races and setting new records with the girls 16, boys 16 and girls 18, flying to new heights.
Kai Opua’s girls 16 crew of Vailana Akeo-Taetuna, Ashley Alani De-Mello, Joelle Kahalewai, Gabriele Lovell, Quinn and Torres finished in 4:27.
Rafael Flores, Isaiah Hauanio, Haaheo Kaiawe, Kepa Kalima-Padillio, Ka‘u Kin In and Devin Vandervoort clocked in 3:43.37 to take gold in the boys 16 race.
The girls 18 crew of Faran Brown, Ashley Gross, Sara Ingram, Lorelei Nakagawa, Kayli Towler and Miranda Villegas won decisively in 4:21.66, nearly 10 seconds ahead of Keaukaha’s 4:31.13.
One race later, it was Puna’s at-bat in the novice A women, for paddlers with up to four years of experience. Danielle Downey, Ruth Hamakawa, Rachel Kingsley, Ariel Moniz, Harriet Parsons and Torrie Suda set the last record of the day in 4:16.33.
“Our minds were all blown. The whole crew worked so hard to get this far,” Moniz said. “From where we started, we’ve come a long way.”