Maui Sports

Seabury Girls Win Gold Medal at State Canoe Paddling

February 1, 2013, 8:46 PM HST
* Updated February 4, 10:46 AM
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Seabury Hall's state champion girls crew pose with their gold medals after beating Kamehameha-Kapalama on Friday at Keehi Lagoon on Oahu. Photo by Kaimana Brummel.

Seabury Hall’s state champion girls crew pose with their gold medals after beating Kamehameha-Kapalama on Friday at Keehi Lagoon on Oahu. Photo by Kaimana Brummel.

By Rodney S. Yap

The Seabury Hall girls outrigger canoe team paddled its way into the state record books Friday, outracing heavily favorite Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama en route to claiming the gold medal.

Led by seniors Kaulu Lu’uwai, steering, and Bela Hamilton, in seat two, Seabury Hall managed to put together the perfect race in the waters of Keehi Lagoon on Oahu on the state’s biggest stage — the 2013 First Hawaiian Bank Canoe Paddling Championships — in a sport where you get only one chance to shine.

In fact, Seabury Hall stole the spotlight by preventing a Kamehameha-Kapalama sweep, becoming the first non-Interscholastic League of Honolulu school to win the girls race since paddling became the official state team sport in 2002.

Seabury Hall crossed the finish line in 4 minutes, 24.37 seconds, more than two full seconds ahead of Kamehameha-Kapalama’s 4:26.40. Waianae was third in 4:39.40. Kamehameha Schools Maui was fifth in 4:45.04.


“Our entire girls crew still can’t believe it,” said Lu’uwai, who also steered Seabury’s mixed team to a third-place finish. “Knowing we’re the first team outside of the ILH to win makes us feel very proud.”


Hamilton, daughter of legendary waterman Laird Hamilton, said she couldn’t believe they won even after they crossed the finish line.

“I had to ask, ‘Are you sure we won, are you sure?’ It was unbelievable. Even after we came in, we still had a hard time believing we had won until they announced it and then we believed it.”

logo-fbh-canoe-paddlingJoining seniors Lu’uwai and Hamilton in the championship final were Kamaile Lee, Lexi Smith, Mikaela McDaniel, Hiilei Aiwohi, and Kaile Aina Sutherland. Completing the 10-member crew are Joey Balinbin, Mapua’a Andrade and Ashley Tenga, said head coach Paul Lu’uwai, who guided King Kekaulike to the mixed state title in 2004.


The ILH displayed its dominance in the other events as Kamehameha-Kapalama won the boys race in 3:41.67, followed by Punahou (3:49.55) and Mid-Pacific (3:56.95). Kamehameha Schools Maui was fourth in 3:59.61. Kamehameha-Kapalama won the mixed race in 3:52.73, with Punahou second in 3:55.42 and Seabury less than a second behind in 3:55.92.

“We were winning the co-ed final,” Coach Lu’uwai said of his mixed team. “We were in first place and until the last 50 feet. I don’t know how close it was but it had to be hundredths of a second. I thought we were going to bring home two trophies, but we can’t be greedy, one is plenty . . . but we were really, really close. For a school of 300, you can’t ask for anything more.”

Adam Ferrier, Mogual Lu’uwai and Alden Simmer were the Seabury boys on the mixed crew with Hamilton, Lee and Kaulu Lu’uwai, who capped her prep paddling career by making history in more ways than one.

“I could not imagine it ending in a better way for me,” said Kaulu, the niece of head coach Paul Lu’uwai. “Just to make state and be here is a great way to go out as a senior. But to go straight to the finals and win is even better yet.”

There are few paddlers from Maui or anywhere in the state for that matter who can boast having won six (MIL) league championships in four years, which is what Kaulu Lu’uwai did during her time at Seabury, her uncle noted.

“It’s really nice to see all of the hard work all of us girls have put in actually paid off. Sometimes you don’t get that feeling, but to know all the sacrifices we’ve made . . . it’s an awesome feeling.”

Sitting in the back of the boat, steering, Kaulu Lu’uwai said she could feel the difference.

“I think our crew was overwhelmed and ready. It’s the peak of our season and I think all the girls peaked at the same time,” she explained. “For me, it felt like the girls wanted it so much, it felt like they wanted it more than I wanted it, I could definitely feel it. I don’t think I have ever felt our boat go that fast.”

Hamilton agreed.

“We were defining paddling well as a unit, pushing and pushing, they (Kamehameha-Kapalama) were right next to us . . . and you don’t want to look but you can see them out of the corner of your eye.

“Our goal was to power through all the way to the end and have a strong finish. I felt like I gave it my all and I’m sure the other girls felt the same way, too.”


Other State Canoe Champions from the Maui Interscholastic League include:

2009 — Boys, Kamehameha Schools Maui, coach Robert Brede

2002 — Mixed, Lahainaluna High School, coach Joey Tihada

2004 — Mixed, King Kekaulike, coach Paul Lu’uwai

2006 — Mixed, Kamehameha Schools Maui, coach Robert Brede


Varsity Boys Final – Race 13
1 Kamehameha – Oahu (P1-1) 03:41.67
2 Punahou (P2-1) 03:49.55
3 Mid-Pacific (P1-2) 03:56.95
4 Kamehameha – Maui (S1-1) 03:59.61
5 Kalaheo (P2-2) 04:00.27
6 Kaiser (S1-2) 04:02.01
7 Seabury Hall (S2-2) 04:03.52
8 McKinley (S2-1) 04:04.09


Varsity Girls Final – Race 14
1 Seabury Hall (P1-2) 04:24.37
2 Kamehameha – Oahu (P1-1) 04:26.40
3 Waianae (S1-2) 04:39.40
4 Kalaheo (S2-2) 04:44.63
5 Kamehameha – Maui (P2-2) 04:45.04
6 Kapaa (S2-1) 04:45.59
7 Punahou (P2-1) 04:46.58
8 Parker (S1-1) 04:48.17


Varsity Mixed Final – Race 15
1 Kamehameha – Oahu (P2-1) 03:52.73
2 Punahou (P1-1) 03:55.42
3 Seabury Hall (P1-2) 03:55.92
4 Kalaheo (P2-2) 04:07.18
5 Nanakuli (S1-1) 04:11.27
6 Kamehameha – Maui (S2-1) 04:11.74
7 Moanalua (S2-2) 04:13.53
8 Parker (S1-2) 04:17.28
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