Canoe paddling: Puna 50s, Kawaihae 14s remain golden at states

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Puna Canoe Club’s senior women’s masters and Kawaihae’s 14-year-old boys were the sole undefeated survivors on Maui.

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Puna Canoe Club’s senior women’s masters and Kawaihae’s 14-year-old boys were the sole undefeated survivors on Maui.

The unblemished Moku O Hawaii crews struck gold Saturday at the Hawaii Canoe Racing Association state championships in Lahaina, where Puna captured a third consecutive Division AAA title.

Puna, also the three-time Big Island champion, sent six undefeated crews to states, and Sheila Cadaoas, Jolene Hughes, Kim Kimi, Miri Sumida, Jennifer Tanner and Bev Tuaolo stayed that way in their half-mile 50s race. They edged Kailua, which relegated Puna to second at states in 2016, winning in 4 minutes, 23.63 seconds.

Kawaihae’s Kuhao Kane, Micah Mahiai, Joshua McPeek, Kawaihiwa Rios-Griego, Laif Showalter and Jaydon Tripp beat Oahu’s Lanikai to the finish line by less than a half-second in their quarter-mile 14s race, winning in 1:46.21. Kawaihae was runner-up in Division A (maximum six crews) behind Maui’s Wailea.

Also winning gold at Hanako’o Beach was the Keauhou 50s crew of Hunter Anderson, Bruce Ayau, Ian Foo, Kevin Lindsey, Lyle Palakiko and Paul Streiter, who pulled away to win their half-mile race by almost 9 seconds in 3:40.27. In men’s 40, Keauhou was second.

Puna got a boost since the first four events at states were senior races – as opposed to Moku O Hawaii, which goes youngest to oldest – and led from start to finish. Entering 20 crews, the AAA maximum, a close race turned to domination once the keiki events were done, and Puna outdistanced runner-up Na Keiki O Ka Moi of Oahu 215-126.

It was no surprise that the big winner on Maui was the Valley Isle’s Hawaiian, which won nine races to paddle to its fifth consecutive state title and 15th state in 19 years.

Puna was propelled by second-place finishes in women’s 60, men’s 55 – both of which entered undefeated – and men’s Novice B, while the previously unbeaten men’s freshman and mixed 55 crews took third along with women’s 65, men’s Novice A and men’s sophomore.

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Also knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten were Kai Ehitu’s boys 13s (second), Puna’s men’s junior (fourth) and Kai Opua’s girls 18s (fifth).

With 21 crews, Kai Opua was the last of six crews in Division AAAA. The West Hawaii club took silver in girls 13 and women’s senior – a race that isn’t contested during the season until the Moku O Hawaii championships – while neighboring Kai Ehitu was third in AA by placing in four of 12 events: mixed masters 40 and mixed men and women also won silver, and girls 14 captured bronze.

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