Paddlers compete at World Sprints in Australia


Photo by courtesy of Shane Tamanaha

Shayna Tamanaha paddles with a women’s crew at the 2016 IVF Vaʻa World Elite and Club Sprints Championships in Queensland, Australia, May 8-15.

Several students paddled in the 2016 IVF Vaʻa World Elite and Club Sprints Championships in Queensland, Australia. Ashley-Anne “Kahaiā” Morishita, Shayna Tamanaha, Kylie Pastor, Abby Kaina, Hailey Kalama and Tiyanni Mahi were among the students from Kamehameha to go.

They left on Wednesday, May 8, and returned to Maui this past Sunday, May 15.

Senior Shayna Tamanaha said that three junior 19’s crews from Maui, including her own, qualified for the championship.

Seven students, including Tamanaha, came from Wailea Canoe Club, and three came from Hawaiian Canoe Club.

“It was our first trip to Australia and to World Sprints,” she said. “It’s held every two years.”

Last year, the championship was held in Brazil, and the next time, it will be held in Tahiti.

The students competed in three races. They had a double-hull race, a 500-meter race, and a 1,000-meter race.

While the Warriors who competed placed second to last, Tamanaha was able to improve on that in a separate race.

“I raced in a women’s crew, it was just put together, we did pretty good” she said. “We got ninth out of 30 teams.”

Her crew also got the fastest time for a Hawai’i team this year. Paddling in Australia was a new experience for the whole team.

“It was crazy. When we first got there we were super psyched,” Tamanaha said. “We felt so much pressure, but once we started paddling we got back to our basics, and we were in the zone.”

There were people from around the world attending this championship.

“Going up to the starting line you feel super nervous,” she said. “You just hear all these different people with different languages getting ready.”

Tamanaha said one thing she took away from the whole trip was the value of teamwork.

“Our first race was horrible. Everything our coach told us not to do, we did it,” she said. “We finally came together and talked about it, and we all worked together as a team.”

Senior Ashley Kahaiā Morishita also went on the trip. She said the students were notified of the trip by their coach at the end of last summer.

Morishita said she learned new things about paddling on the trip.

“You really learn that [paddling] is not just a sport. It’s not just a thing like over here where it’s just something you do to get in shape,” she said. “There, it’s like their life. Paddling is all they know. For example, the Tahitians, it’s so vital and important for them to know how to paddle that, compared to all other clubs, Tahiti is on lockdown.”

Morishita explained that even the water was different.

“Over there, [the water they paddled in] is fresh, so you don’t have currents to push you a little,” she said. “There’s definitely more resistance.”

The experience taught her many things.

“Overall, I learned you’re not gonna get handed a medal the first time,” she said. “You can’t expect to just beat the best of the best out of nowhere. You really have to put in the dedication and hard work.”