Namolokama Celebrates 10 Years

Namolokama Canoe Club members gather prior to the start of the 2012 Garden Island Canoe Racing Association season. Photo by Dallas Brown

Hopefully, by the time you’re thumbing through this edition, you haven’t been hunkered and huddled for days in your hale. If you’re out enjoying the sunshine, I envy you, since I’m currently stuck in this seemingly nonstop rainstorm that has decided to take up residence on our beautiful island.

Since much more of Kaua’i is currently under water than usual, I thought it fitting to check in with the watersports world and see how the paddling season is going for our outrigger men and women.

The opening race took place on the west side with the Warren Resquer long-distance competition during the Waimea Town Celebration. Pu’uwai Canoe Club earned five first-place finishes, including the Open Men, Masters Men, Masters Women, Senior Masters Men and Mixed Novice divisions. Kukuiula nabbed first in the Open Women division, while Kaiola eked out a win in the Women Senior Masters.

Hanalei Canoe Club won the Open Mixed event, followed by Namolokama Canoe Club, which picked up wins in the Men Golden Masters and the Men Grand Masters divisions.

Namolokama is celebrating its 10th anniversary this season and had a potluck barbecue to commemorate the milestone before the season got under way. There was a great turnout for the festivities as the relatively young club continues to make a name for itself among the top talent of Garden Island Canoe Racing Association participants.

“Namolokama Canoe Club’s roots formed on Kaua’i in 2002 with a group of dedicated paddlers interested in creating a club that would focus on the competitive and recreational nature of Hawaiian canoe sports,” says Sharon Ames-Brown, the club’s secretary. “With a few borrowed six-man canoes available and an enthusiastic group of paddlers, the club began the task of gaining club recognition, status and a home base.”

That home base took root in Hanalei beneath Namolokama mountain, which means “tightly braided.”

“We were able to obtain a location behind Black Pot Park in Hanalei,” says Ames-Brown. “The club started with about 35 members and grew rapidly to about 120.”

One of the things that separates Namolokama from some other paddling clubs, according to Ames-Brown, is that its members have no offseason, working year-round to improve and compete.

“We enjoy our success with Kaua’i and state regattas but really shine in long-distance racing,” she explains, “participating in sponsored events such as the Na Pali Challenge, Lililuokalani on Hawaii and the Molokai World Championships across the Kaiwi Channel.”

Some of that shine illuminated during the season’s second race, the Durgh Kane event sponsored by Kaiola Canoe Club. Namolokama was the top finisher in the Open Men division, as well as the Master Men 50-Plus.

Kaiola took home three division victories, which was one-upped by Pu’uwai’s four. Hanalei took the additional division with its Open Women team.

Just before the rains consumed the island, competitors managed to get the season’s third race completed March 3 with the Moana Keala Benzon Memorial Race. Full results from that event were unavailable at press time.

The Kawaikini Kalabash Race was scheduled for this past weekend, and the Kukuiula long-distance race, the season’s fifth, is set for March 17.

Kauai’s various canoe clubs accept participants of all skill levels year round. Dry yourself off and hop into a canoe.