Scott “Scooter” Sagum steered Team Curla to its first finish and Team Uncle’s Favorite to a second finish during the 6th Annual Kaua‘i Canoe Surfing Challenge at Kalapaki Beach over the weekend.
The unique canoe event hosted by the Po‘ipu Beach Surfing Canoe Club attracted a field of 22 crews, including visitors from New York, Santa Cruz, the Big Island and O‘ahu, said Chris Kauwe, organizer of the event.
“The day proved to be fun for participants and spectators alike as crews surfed waves into the beach, kicking up a leg, holding a headstand, riding the ama, the canoe’s outrigger, or a crewmate’s shoulders,” Kauwe said in an email. “A few huli, or spills, added to the excitement.”
Following the day-long weeding out of the crews based on judging criteria which included the size of the wave, maneuvers (turns), tricks, and the length of the wave, Sagum piloted Team Curla to the top of the heap. The team won a prize cache including an original piece of tribal artwork created by Derek Glaskin valued at more than $3,000, a hand-made koa paddle by Leleo Kinimaka, gift certificates from Hanalima Baking and Da Booze Shop, mead and honey from Honihoni Honey, t-shirts from Kaua‘i Culture, Hoku Water Sports and Surfski Kaua‘i.
In a gesture of sportsmanship and humbleness, Sagum presented his first place koa paddle to the third place team, the Party Roccas which had Jason Asuncion as its steersman.
Kauwe steered the fourth place team, the Go Go Stops. Jeff McBride handled the steering duties for the Yoga Line, fifth finish at the day’s end, and Maui Kjeldsen piloted the Kalapakis to its sixth finish.
The Kaua‘i Canoe Surfing Challenge was started at Po‘ipu Beach in 2003 to perpetuate the traditional Hawaiian sport of wa‘a nalu, or canoe surfing, this year’s Challenge being hosted during the Hawaiian makahiki season.
Kauwe said traditionally, the makahiki season, from late October to early February, lasted four months during which time Hawaiians honored Lono, one of the four major gods.
During this time, people celebrated by competing in games of skill and daring. War was kapu, or forbidden.
Hawaiians would wager land and items of value on the outcome of contests of skill and bravery, one of which was wa‘a nalu, Kauwe said.
This sport has roots in ancient times, and although not documented, he believes is the root of what people know today as kapapa he‘e nalu, or surfing — riding a surfboard is an extension of the skill of riding an ama on a canoe.
The YMCA of Kaua‘i, Hanalima Baking, Honi Honi Honey, Hoku Water Sports, Kaua‘i Water Patrol, Hawaiki, Kandyba Graphics, Fantasy Shirts, Po‘ipu Beach Canoe Surfing Club, Adrenaline Hawai‘i and Da Booze Shop as well as the many participants, judges, emcee, timers, spotters, recorders and volunteers made the perpetuation of this traditional sport possible, Kauwe said.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.