Dream Season For Namolokama Old Boys

Members of the winning Grand Masters division team from Namolokama O Hanalei Canoe Club (from left): Mark Daniels, Jeff O’Hara, Lance Laney, Art Chow, Jim Celeti, Togo Hermosura, Steve Landis, Mike McHenry, Andy Reich, Phil Morgan and Gil Donnelly

Here’s how someone at Hale O Lono Harbor on Molokai, in the hours leading up the Molokai Hoe, described the Grand Masters division team from Namolokama O Hanalei Canoe Club:

“A bunch of backyard paddlers from the outer islands.”

You don’t say.

That someone had some words to eat after the “backyard boys” from Kaua’i, each more than 60 years old, went out and brought home the gold, finishing first in their division – and putting the perfect finishing touch on an incredible 2010 season.

Described as “a great bunch of guys, all characters” and “all dedicated to the lifetime sport,” they made the 41-mile Kaiwi Channel crossing to Duke Kahanamoku Beach (fronting the Hilton Hawaiian Village) in 6:16:45, averaging 6.5 mph, good for 69th place overall in the field of 119 crews.

And this was in ocean conditions described as “the toughest in years” and “like a washing machine.”

The team, coached by Togo Hermosura, is comprised of Mark Daniels, Jeff O’Hara, Lance Laney, Art Chow, Jim Celeti, Steve Landis, Mike McHenry, Andy Reich, Phil Morgan, Gil Donnelly, Tom Thompson and Dan Sullivan.

The Molokai race capped a memorable paddling season for these guys. Here is a partial list of their wins: GICRA division champions, State Regatta division champions, Queen Liliuokalani Long Distance division champions, Callahan Memorial Long Distance division champions, World Sprints in New Caledonia silver medal, Napali Challenge division champions and, finally, Molokai Hoe gold-medal division champions.

The Molokai-to-Oahu win for the “old boys” also capped a terrific day for Namolokama O Hanalei. The men’s team finished 26th overall, finishing in 5:44:43, averaging a smokin’ 7.1 mph. In a frantic sprint to the finish inside the channel, they were nipped by three seconds – after racing 41 miles – by the Waikiki Beachboys.

And the Men’s Masters team (age 40 and older) finished 52nd in a time of 6:05:45, 6.7 mph.

Enjoy the off-season, guys.

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