Hawai'i clubs dominate even on Lake Las Vegas
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By Catharine Lo
Special to The Advertiser
By Catharine Lo
Give Hawai'i paddlers a body of water, and they can navigate an outrigger canoe across it — even if it's a man-made lake in the middle of the desert.
Prevailing against a strong current and fierce winds, Honolulu's Tongaroa Outrigger Canoe Club and Kailua's Team Niner won the open men's and open women's divisions, respectively, of the fifth annual outrigger canoe regatta hosted by the Las Vegas Hawaiian Civic Club at Lake Las Vegas on Oct. 21 and 22.
Tongaroa finished the 1-mile sprint, which included three turns around two buoys, in 9 minutes, 2.59 seconds, and Team Niner finished in 11:21.94. The regatta was part of an annual Hawaiian Isles Festival at the MonteLago Village in the Lake Las Vegas Resort in Henderson, Nev., approximately 17 miles away from the Las Vegas strip.
The 10 Hawai'i clubs dominated clubs from California, Arizona and Nevada in every division. Fifty-one crews competed in the two-day competition.
For the Hawai'i clubs, the setting may have been foreign —Tuscan architecture and a landscape as dry as the Ko'olau are green — but the general vibe was all aloha. There was camaraderie among the members of the Hawai'i teams who also competed against one another in O'ahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association (OHCRA) and Na 'Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a regattas at home.
"We borrowed one paddler from (Na Keiki O) Ka Mo'i, and they borrowed one paddler from us, and regardless of how we did, it was just a really good feeling that we were there for each other," says Faith Craycroft, the steerswoman for Manu O Ke Kai, which finished second in the open women's division. "It was a great opportunity for everyone to bond."
The festival reminded many Hawai'i transplants of home.
Music of Ka'au Crater Boys and Braddah Iz played over the speakers.
Christine and Eric Sugui, who moved to Vegas from 'Aiea, sold poi mochi balls, garlic chicken and cone sushi.
Even in the cold weather, people stood in line for shave ice.
According to Janet Roman, Las Vegas Hawaiian Civic Club director and co-coordinator of the regatta, the Lake Las Vegas Resort approached the club five years ago and offered the use of the resort's outrigger canoe.
The civic club began holding loosely organized local races, and each year more clubs attended. Next year, they hope to have an international field of paddlers, further spreading and perpetuating the celebrated Hawaiian tradition. The majority of the 17 clubs in this year's race came from Hawai'i.
"What does that tell you? They're paying for their own airfare. You can't ask for more support," Roman said in appreciation of the Hawai'i attendees.
Part of the proceeds from the festival will go toward Hawai'i earthquake relief. (Big Island homes, businesses and public facilities suffered damage in the Oct. 15 earthquakes.)
"Especially because these guys come here, we gotta give back," Roman said. "It's nice to have a piece of Hawai'i here. It makes us feel so proud and humble."
Paddling on a freshwater lake presents considerably different conditions than those that ocean paddlers are accustomed to. It's less buoyant, there are no swells to ride, and in Las Vegas it's a brisk 65 degrees in October.
1, Waimanalo 13:02.28
2, Na Alakai O Ke Kai 16:11.81
1, Marina Del Ray 11:05.56
1, Team Niner 11:21.94
2, Manu O Ke Kai 12:04.32
3, Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i 12:08.47
4, Kamehameha Canoe Club 12:10.75
5, Nani's Wahine 12:38.25
6, Hawaiian Nuff Said 12:43.12 (13:03.12 with penalty)
1, Tongaroa 9:02.59
2, Frothing Canoe Club 10:14.31
3, Stragglers 10:18.69
4, Kamehameha Canoe Club 11:03.29
5, Hokuloa Heat 11:14.72
6, Hawaiian Nuff Said 11:16.09
1, Kamehameha Canoe Club 11:45.31
2, Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i 12:14.56
3, Nani's Wahine 12:49.53
1, Pali Kai
2, Hawaiian Nuff Said
SENIOR MASTERS WOMEN
1, Kamehameha Canoe Club
NA 'OPIO MIXED
1, Na Alakia O Ke Kai 2
2, Na Alakia O Ke Kai 1
3, Nani Ola Hawaiian Dance Club
1, Marina Del Ray
2, 808 Heat
1, Marina Del Ray
2, Pali Kai
3, Hawaiian Nuff Said 2
1, Hawaiian Nuff Said 2
3, Hawaiian Nuff Said 1