CALGARY, Alberta - Bob Fulkerson, a veteran paddler from Haiku, died Wednesday while competing in the International Vaa Federation World Sprints. He was 70.
According to the Canadian Outrigger Racing Association's website, Fulkerson "suffered a massive heart attack" during a race.
"Everyone who talked about him remembered how he loved life," said Sharon Balidoy, one of the head coaches at Lae'ula O Kai, Fulkerson's team during this year's Maui County Hawaiian Canoe Association season. "He was really fun, happy - always had nice things to say."
Fulkerson collapsed near the finish line of Wednesday's race.
"It happened right before us," Ba-lidoy said. "He kept paddling with his hands, even without his paddle."
Balidoy said participants and staff at the sprints paid respects in their own fashion when Fulkerson's body was taken away, with honors from Hawaiian chants to Maori haka to a Scottish bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace."
Paul Luuwai, who was in Calgary as the Hawaiian Canoe Club keiki coach, said the demonstration was moving.
"All the cultures there were trying to do their protocol when someone dies," he said. "It was kind of touching to see them honor one of our kupuna like that."
Fulkerson, a former Delta Airlines pilot, was in his first year with Lae'ula. He had known Balidoy from their participation in one-person events, especially races from Maliko Gulch.
"He used to say, 'I can fly all over the world, I should be able to navigate this course,' " Balidoy recalled.
Fulkerson had previously paddled for Kihei Canoe Club, and served on the club's board of directors.
"Bobby, he was an honest man with a lot of integrity," said Kihei head coach Kawika Williams.
"He was always happy to be racing and be around the gang."