March comes in like a lion when it comes to outrigger canoe paddling with a roaring push for registration.
CANOE CLUB ASSOCIATIONS
The signs already are up at beach parks and other waterways. Nearly 80 clubs statewide are beginning — or have already begun — the signup process for regatta season, which starts in late May or early June, depending on the governing association.
The sport continues to grow, as evidenced by the increased numbers of paddlers in the past decade. And, at least with the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association, the growth in older paddlers has led to a new age division: 65-and-older.
OHCRA added races for 65s men’s and women’s last season on a trial basis. The positive response led to the association adding the two half-mile races to its schedule this year.
"The clubs felt that there was a need for that age group," said Kalani Irvine, OHCRA’s immediate past president. "There was enough participation that the clubs voted for it."
OHCRA is the only one of Hawaii’s six umbrella organizations that has made the addition. Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association president Walter Vierra said it was left up to each island’s association whether to add the 65s races.
"I think our demographics are changing," Vierra acknowledged. "There are certainly more paddlers in that age bracket than there have been. Maui (Maui County Hawaiian Canoe Association) wanted a 65s mixed race added (to the state regatta), but we didn’t.
"We tell the associations to add it at their level before we’ll add it at the state level. We do keep hearing from people that there’s a big difference between being 60 and being 65. If we see that that age group (65) keeps coming out, we’ll do something about it."
"We did walk around that (65s) issue, but it was voted down," said Aunty Maile Mauhili, a board member of the Big Island’s Moku O Hawaii Outrigger Canoe Racing Association. "As ages go up, people come in and ask about it. They fought to add 60s and now it’s the 65s. I think eventually it will happen."
The HCRA state regatta currently has 40 races, ranging from 12-and-under to 60-and-over.