Shake-up starts season

Kamehameha mixed crew, Molokai girls win MIL’s opening regatta

Talia Nakayama (left) and Shai Rawlins look at the scorer’s table after helping Molokai’s girls crew to a first-place finish. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

KIHEI — Strong winds, pouring rain and upsets of Seabury Hall’s two defending state-champion crews kicked off a wild start to the Maui Interscholastic League canoe paddling season Saturday at Ka Lae Pohaku.

“We were very shocked when we looked to our sides at the end of the race and it was just us,” Talia Na­kayama said after helping Molo­kai win the girls division. “We were very surprised and proud — but humble because this is only the first race.”

Kamehameha Maui won the mixed race, and Seabury took the boys division.

Heavy rain began to fall shortly before the girls race, strong enough to make flags marking the lanes difficult to see. The regatta, originally scheduled for Kahului Harbor, was moved to Kihei due to concerns about high surf.

“It was so choppy the nose of the boat was going up and down so it was catching air,” Nakayama said. “When it slammed down I got really soaked. It felt like buckets of water flying at me. When we would stroke I kept having to wipe my face on my shoulder.”

Crews in the mixed final take off from the starting line during Saturday’s Maui Interscholastic League season-opening regatta at Ka Lae Pohaku. Kamehameha Maui won the race. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

Nakayama, Hulilau Albino, Shai Rawlins, Cahl Horner, Sherie Kaili and Ashawna Davis had a time of 5 minutes, 25.53 seconds. Kameha­meha Maui was second, 4.76 seconds back. The Spartans, who had won the previous 16 MIL girls races, were third in 5:58:35.

“We were just doing our best and trying to exceed our past,” Nakayama said — the Farmers finished third at last season’s girls state championship after placing second in the MIL. “Our focus wasn’t really on winning. It was using our skills we work on in practice and doing our best.”

Seabury coach Paul Luuwai said the Spartans were missing a couple of their members Saturday, including Taysia Pimentel, an MIL Girls co-Paddler of the Year last season who is recovering from a herniated disk in her back.

Luuwai noted, though, that there are “no excuses” and the other schools “were just better than us.”

“I give them credit where credit is due,” Luuwai said. “We know where we’re standing and what we’ve got to work at. We’ve got to correct our errors and go back to the drawing board. Everybody is good on Maui. Maui is a mecca of kids here.”

Seabury Hall’s (from left) Robert Gibbons, David Coulombe, Kainalu Kubo and Kai Ponting celebrate after winning the boys race Saturday. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

Kamehameha’s mixed team of Triston Santos, Healani Tolentino, Kamahie Baricuatro, Rafael Adolpho, Joshua Kaili­ehu and Hoala Alapai finished in 4:27.83, just 1.14 seconds in front of Seabury, which has won the last two state titles and had finished first in each of the previous 17 league races.

“Today, I don’t know, we had a chemistry that we just put together,” Alapai said. “I’m so happy for today.”

Kamehameha was the MIL mixed runner-up last year, and placed third in the state.

“Stroking the crew to the finish was a hard push,” Santos said. “To hear the crew want to go and push ahead of them amped me up and felt like we were all pushing together as one team. I’m pretty happy we were able to come out and participate all around. It was a good start to the season.”

Seabury’s time in the boys race was 4:03:90. Kamehameha (4:06:44) was the runner-up.

Kamehameha Maui’s Hoala Alapai returns to shore after her team won the mixed race. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

“It was neck and neck until the last eighth of a mile,” said the Spartans’ Robert Gibbons, who was joined on the boys crew by Kai Ponting, Kainalu Kubo, Haena Balinbin, David Coulombe and Dylan Newbro. “We were tied pretty much the whole time. We’re stoked that we managed to come away with a win today.”

Seabury’s boys crew was the state runner-up last year.

“It’s going to be all about trial and error, especially over this winter break,” Kubo said. “We’ll be fine-tuning and trying to find the pieces that fit into the puzzle.”

* Chris Sugidono is at



Saturday’s Results • At Ka Lae Pohaku


Girls–1. Molokai (Talia Nakayama, Hulilau Albino, Shai Rawlins, Ashawna Davis, Cahl Horner, Sherie Kaili) 5:25:53, 2. Kamehameha Maui 5:30:29, 3. Seabury Hall 5:58:35, 4. Maui High 6:00:83, 5. Baldwin 6:38:66, 6. King Kekaulike 9:57:47.

Boys–1. Seabury Hall (Robert Gibbons, Kai Ponting, Kainalu Kubo, Haena Balinbin, David Coulombe, Dylan Newbro) 4:03:90, 2. Kamehameha Maui 4:06:44, 3. Lahainaluna 4:46:27, 4. Baldwin 4:50:49, 5. Lanai 5:56:20.

Mixed–1. Kamehameha Maui (Triston Santos, Rafael Adolpho, Joshua Kailiehu, Healani Tolentino, Kamahie Baricuatro, Hoala Alapai) 4:27:83, 2. Seabury Hall 4:28:97, 3. King Kekaulike 5:01:28, 4. Lahainaluna 5:14:65, 5. Kihei Charter 5:15:54, 6. Baldwin 5:20:75.

Junior varsity

Girls–1. King Kekaulike 2:33:22, 2. Kamehameha Maui 2:38:20, 3. Baldwin 2:38:7, 4. Lahainaluna 2:39:33, 5. Seabury Hall 2:55:04, 6. Kihei Charter 3:00:37.

Boys–1. Baldwin 2:10:94, 2. Seabury Hall 2:14:19, 3. Kamehameha Maui 2:19:70, 4. Lahainaluna 2:22:60, 5. King Kekaulike 2:27:16, 6. Kihei Charter 2:32:16, 7. Maui High 2:49:65.

Mixed–1. Seabury Hall 2:20:56, 2. Kamehameha Maui 2:23:82, 3. Baldwin 2:24:52, 4. Lahainaluna 2:34:04, 5. King Kekaulike 2:35:53, 6. Kihei Charter 2:41:17