Paddling: For starters, Kailana regatta will honor celebration of life

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald A day before the opening eastside regatta of the season, keiki from Paddlers of Lake get ready for practice Friday.

HILO – Before Kailana’s regatta, canoe paddling contributors Jerry Halverson, Bo Campos, Skylark Rossetti, McWarren Mehau, and Lyle Kaaihili will be honored in a celebration of life ceremony at 7 a.m. Saturday at Hilo Bay.

All five passed away over the last year and left a lasting impact on Moku O Hawaii and canoe paddling, said Aunty Maile Mauhili, Kailana president.

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Halverson and Campos were former Kai Opua presidents and officials with the Hawaii Canoe Racing Association, the governing body for canoe paddling in the state.

Rossetti and Mehau were longtime public-address announcers for the Moku O Hawaii Outrigger Canoe Racing Association events.

Kaaihili paddled for Wailani, which changed its name to Kailana in 1995.

Halverson, who was an attorney, served as the legal advisor for Moku O Hawaii.

“Skylark was a special person, said Aunty Maile. “Anytime we needed something, she was always available.

“McWarren was our announcer for 40 years. He was a giver. Whenever we needed him, he was always there to help.”

Aunty Maile said there is a proposal to hold all the regattas at Hilo Bay because of the new DLNR policies at Kailua Pier, which forbids the clubs to unload their canoes there.

Through two regattas, the Kailana girls 12 crew is the only one in the top three in the HCRA standings for the club.

“All of our paddlers are from Kamehameha,” Aunty Maile said.

Last summer, Paddlers of Laka’s Furious Five — girls 12, boys 12, mixed 12, girls 13 and boys 13 — dominated during the season and captured Aunty Maile/Moku O Hawaii championships.

No club in Moku O Hawaii’s 60-year plus history has had the first five youth crews pull off winning streaks of at least six races capped by an island championship.

None of the crews medaled at the state championships, held at Oahu’s Keehi Lagoon. This summer, only the boys 13 are in first place after three regattas, tied with Kai Opua with 26 points.

Two Moku O Hawaii crews — the Puna men 50 and Waikoloa mixed novice B — finished the season unbeaten and grabbed state gold.

Waikoloa has a whole new crew because novice B is for first-year rookie paddlers.

Kai Ehitu’s men 50 crew (Hunter Anderson, Michael Andrade, Douglas Copeland, Kawika Crivello, Ian Foo, Sylvester Orosco) is undefeated through three regattas. Puna has placed runner-up each time.

If history falls into line, the first regatta at Hilo Bay is when Puna starts to heat up and build momentum. Green Pride has won the last four Aunty Maile/Moku O Hawaii titles.

But nothing lasts forever, especially winning streaks. Kai Opua has captured the first and third regattas. Kai Ehitu beat Big Blue by a single point in the second regatta.

It’s on to the Kailana regatta. Late Friday, Aunty Maile was at her club’s halau, setting up for the next day’s races and thinking about old friends.

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She mentioned the decades the five gave to canoe paddling. She’s 85 years old and has spent more than half her life to canoe paddling. Despite health issues, she has no plans to slow down.

“People ask me why I’m still here,” Aunty Maile said. “It’s my passion.”

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