Puna may not be the best, but the canoe club is always hard to beat, and that type of mindset is something Chance Agpoon is trying to pass down to the young paddlers in his crew.
Agpoon, Lono Leasure-Lucas, Marvin Vinoya, Noah Loutalo, Braden Leialoha and Kui Reis are members of Puna’s 18 boys crew that captured first place at the Moku O Hawaii Outrigger Canoe Racing Association regatta Saturday at Hilo Bay.
The crew didn’t paddle in the first three regattas in Kailua-Kona. Since then, the Puna 18 paddlers have finished second three consecutive times, before their first victory.
Under a scorching sun and friendly breeze, they won their mile race in 8 minutes and 9.86 seconds to Keaukaha’s 8:30.17
Agpoon’s cousin Nick Nicolas is part of Keaukaha’s 18 crew that leads the Moku O Hawaii standings with 32 points after the Puna-hosted regatta. Puna is next with 25, while Kai Opua is third with 22.
Seven-time champion Kai Opua pocketed the A division (15-40 events) for the seventh consecutive regatta with 193 points, ahead of Puna, 164; Keaukaha, 135; Keauhou, 113; Kai Ehitu, 112; Kamehameha, 111; Kawaihae, 97; and Laka, 58.
Keoua Honaunau seized the B division (1-14 events) with 43 points, ahead of Waiakea, 29; Kailana, 25; Hanakahi, 17; and Waikoloa, 11.
The Aunty Maile Mauhili/Moku O Hawaii championships are July 19 at Hilo Bay. Only the two top point leaders in each event in the Moku O Hawaii standings earn state berths.
Agpoon, his cousin Colby Nicolas, Leasure-Lucas, and Keola Sumera-Lee were on undefeated Moku O Hawaii championship crews from ages 14, 15, 16 and 18.
In those four years at the HCRA state championships, those four key paddlers placed third in 14s, second in 15s and third in 16s and 18s.
Only he and Leasure-Lucas are age-eligible to paddle in 18s for a second consecutive year.
“We had a bond and were always together. Colby is my cousin and were always together, and Keola and Lono are close family friends.”
Agpoon can’t polish off another undefeated season, but at least the Puna 18s crew has a chance to make another run at states.