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Maui paddling kūpuna crews to compete in new 75-and-older division in British Isles

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A dozen women representing Maui are competing in a double-hull race in the inaugural 75-and-older division Aug. 12 at outrigger World Sprints in England. Posing at Kīhei Canoe Club after practice July 30 are Joy Nelson (from left), Kekoa Enomoto, Audrey Quinn, Gloria Lee-Jones, Renee Riley, Victoria Smith, Mary Akiona, Wanda Shirreff, Maxine Magnani, Diane Wetzel, Marcie Davis and Donna Neuhart. PC: brucekurosakiphotography.com

Three dozen Maui kūpuna depart this weekend to compete in the first 75-and-older division at the 2022 World Sprints.

Considered the Olympics of outrigger-canoe paddling, Sprints unfolds from Aug. 7 to 16 at Lake Dorney in Windsor, England — the first time the international event will take place in Europe.

In three 500-meter races for paddlers three-quarters of a century and older, Maui will field one men’s and two women’s crews. Of the latter, a Kīhei Canoe Club squad includes Renee Riley, Gloria Lee-Jones, Audrey Quinn, Victoria Smith, Joy Nelson and Kekoa Enomoto. Smith is the senior crew member at age 80 and anchors the six-person squad in the No. 4 power-seat.

Kīhei Canoe Club women 75 and older have been training two years, eight months for the 2022 World Sprints, with practices starting 5 a.m. twice weekly. The super septuagenarians are Joy Nelson (from left), Kekoa Enomoto, Audrey Quinn, Gloria Lee-Jones, Renee Riley and Victoria Smith, who’s the senior crew member at age 80. PC: brucekurosakiphotography.com
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The International Vaa Federation in conjunction with Great Britain Outrigger is hosting the biennual competition at Lake Dorney, the 2012 Olympics rowing venue 28 miles west of London

“There’s a lot of mileage in being able to say, ‘I will steer a women’s crew 75 and older at World Sprints in August in London,’” said Enomoto, a Kamehameha Schools ’64 graduate and retired Honolulu Star-Bulletin and The Maui News staff writer.

The other wahine 75s crew features four clubs from two islands. Out of Maui are Mary Akiona and Donna Neuhart from Hawaiian Canoe Club, and Wanda Shirreff and Diane Wetzel of Kīhei Canoe Club. Hailing from Hawaiʻi island are Maxine Magnani from Kamehameha Canoe Club and Marcie Davis of Waikoloa Canoe Club.

The 75s are the new 45s. Proving that maxim at 2022 World Sprints in the 75-and-older division is the Maui crew of Maxine Magnani (from left), Donna Neuhart, Marcie Davis, Wanda Shirreff, Diane Wetzel and Mary Akiona. Wetzel also will steer a 70-and-older Kīhei crew and will compete in a one-person, rudderless canoe in the new 75s division. PC: brucekurosakiphotography.com
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Joyce Spoehr of ʻĀnuenue Canoe Club on Oʻahu is the alternate for both wahine 75s squads. The Valley Isle wahine 75s crews plan to join for a double-hull race Aug. 12 at 1:33 p.m., or 2:33 a.m. Hawaiʻi time. Then they will compete separately on final-race day Aug. 16 at 11:14 a.m. with a turn, and 1:27 p.m. on a straightaway.

Several of the wahine 75s also will compete in one-person, rudderless canoes. The Kīhei wahine 75s paddlers had competed at 2020 Sprints trials in Hilo; then organizers called off the 2020 World Sprints due to COVID. So the Kīhei 75s have been training together for more than 2.5 years, with practices starting 5 a.m. twice a week.

The men’s 75s crew representing Maui also includes a mélange of clubs, including Kīhei, Kamehameha of Hilo, Waikoloa and Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Voyaging Society. The squad and two alternates include Bob Brooks, Guy Davis, Kimokeo Kapahulehua, Steve Magnani, Ken Pearsall, John Salse, Mark Standfeld and John Wetzel.

A Kihei men’s 75s crew with two alternates competing at 2022 World Sprints in England include (from left, front row) Ken Pearsall, Kimokeo Kapahulehua, (back row) John Salse, Steve Magnani, Bob Brooks, John Wetzel, Mark Standfeld and Guy Davis. PC: brucekurosakiphotography.com
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World Sprints features women’s and men’s competition in youth, adult and paralympic races. “Indeed, Polynesian outrigger-canoe racing is a sport for all ages,” according to the Maui crew.

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