by DN

Six Hokulele paddlers raced in the 2017 Texas River Marathon (TRM) on a 35-mile section of the Guadalupe River from Cuero Texas to Victoria on May 6th.  The TRM is a preliminary race to the 260 mile Texas Water Safari (TWS) scheduled to begin on June 10th.  One hundred fourteen boats started the race; several did not finish this grueling run which is short enough to require top speeds to be competitive and long enough to make maintaining that level of effort painful.

Teddy Gray and Kelly Truitt won 1st place in the Aluminum Division, which included men’s, mixed, and women’s teams.  They covered the 35 miles in 4 hours 55 minutes and 35 seconds (4:55:35) and came in 39th overall.  Teddy & Kelly’s success is no surprise to those of us who paddle with these two relentless competitors.  Kelly is a rising star in women’s paddling.  In 2016 Kelly won both the USCA Mixed Aluminum National title and USCA C2 Mixed Texas State Championship with her husband, Joel; and won the USCA Female C2 national championship paddling with Joy Emshoff (also a Hokulele teammate).  Teddy has established a reputation for excellence over her years of canoe racing, racking up numerous state and national titles.  Teddy and Joy Emshoff are the reigning 2017 USCA Women’s Aluminum National Champions, and Teddy also won the 2017 USCA Mixed Aluminum National Championship paddling with Don Walls.

Teddy Gray – “We (she & Kelly in the TRM) reached our goal with training, team work, and good water level.  Kelly, an awesome paddler, steered us through the technical stretches and powered to the finish.  It was a surprise to see a note posted on result board by Linda Cochran, "Go Girls."   One of the best Texas races!”

by DN

Hokulele placed 2nd in the 440 meter championship race falling to the Tampa Bay Blade Runners by 1 second in the Tampa Bay International Dragon Boat Festival at Cotanchobee Park in down town Tampa on April 29th.  Hokulele faced 36 other teams, including many of Florida’s top dragon boat teams, at the festival on a hot and windy Saturday.

With most team members arriving on various flights the day before the festival, we had some kinks to work out at our short five o’clock practice the evening prior to the races.  Even at 5 PM, it was scorching hot as we worked on blending with our teammates from Austin and San Francisco, while our steersmen wrestled to control the lighter and bouncier boats.

Though Hokulele won our first 440 meter race of the festival, the kinks were still there and our time was not impressive.  Placement in the final would be determined by cumulative times in the preliminary heats, meaning that we still had a lot of work left to do to earn a spot in the championship heat. 

by DN

Team Hokulele wins 1st place in Women’s OC6 Eight Miler, places 3rd in Men’s OC6 Eight Miler, takes 3 medals in Women’s OC1 Four Miler, and finishes 1st in Women’s OC2 and collects 2 additional medals in OC1 Eight Miler at the Shark Bite Challenge.  The races were held April 8 & 9, 2017 in open water off Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin, Florida.

The Hokulele Women’s OC6 crew (Teddy Gray, Su Boone, Kelly Truitt, Kaitlin Jiral, Suzanne Pham and Tracy Quon) delivered a powerful performance taking 1st place (1:10:14) in their class and earning 2nd place overall finishing only 1 minute 38 seconds behind the winning Unlimited class canoe and beating two Unlimited class boats that placed 3rd and 4th overall.  Unlimited canoes weigh 200-300 pounds less than the Bradley class boat our women paddled. Outstanding race ladies!

Suzanne Pham – “We all knew Florida would be a challenging race. I was thinking we would do well to finish in the middle of the pack. … 20 mins into the race, there was a crew right on our tail. Their bow grazed the back of our Ama a few times and I knew we had to shake them. I sent a power call up to Tracy in seat 5, she relayed it to the team, and we took off! … We kept the separation to the first buoy turn. I looked behind us and they had fallen behind us but still not too far behind. I called another power push right after our turn and we were able to extend the lead on them. By this time, we were 2nd overall. We went on to maintain that position for the duration of the race. All of our training and hard work had paid off. It was an amazing race and we are all still feeling the buzz from our win.”

by David Nollsch

Hokulele Women’s team wins 1st place. The ladies (Sonna Pham, Lynn Hoang, Teddy Gray, Kila Vara-Nixon, Tracy Quon & Lynsey Boyles) had a powerful start and never looked back, paddling to an impressive victory on the gusty 10 mile course on Lake Grapevine Saturday morning, October 15.  Congratulations to Hoewa’a A who came in 2nd, TOCC/AOCC 3rd place and Hoewa’a B .

By David Nollsch 


Saturday & Sunday, October 8-9 were sunny, warm days on Sugarland’s Brooks Lake for TDBA’s 2016 October Dragon Boat Festival.  The weather was quite a contrast to that of last year’s cool and rain abbreviated event but, rain or shine, the result was the same with Hokulele winning all of its heats and taking 1st place in the 250M, 400M, 2K, 6K and Overall competitions.  It was an enjoyable 2 days of racing and a good overall team effort.  Thanks Coach Hau for getting us ready to race!

By Joel Truitt

The Texas Water Safari (TWS) Jr is one of those races that gets many Texas paddlers excited. The race itself consists of three dams, a legendary rapid, and some of the most technical river stretches in Texas. More than what the river has to offer, a racer can also get to experience some great competition, beautiful sights, and one of the most supportive race communities around. 

The 2016 TWS Jr was a special race in that Houston, Austin, and Martindale had a friendly rivalry. The aluminum class is the spec boat that was selected to foster the competition. With a little bit of work on social media, the three cities were able to get 32 aluminum boats on the water. 

Race day was pretty typical with the normal hussel and bussel. I got to say hi to old friends and run around getting my gear together. I missed the pre-race meeting because I was talking, but I got the boat loaded with gear, paddles and life jackets. 

The record number of aluminum boats and the other classes that participated this year packed the starting line. My race partner, Eric Whicker, and I took one look at the hoard of boats and decided it would be better to be at the front of the starting pack. We got our position and I looked around to see who was around us. To our left was our biggest competition, Kyle Mynar and Andrew Condie. They were wearing a spray skirt that signaled they were going to run the first dam, Rio Vista. This was bad news for Eric and I because we hadn't trained on the river this year and we were going to be slower on the portages. I knew we would have our work cutout for us. 

By David Nollsch

With 11 Hokulele paddlers participating the quote above, attributed to Patty Geisinger prior to the start, summarized our team effort in this 16-mile marathon canoe race on September 17.  The Texas Junior Water Safari (TJWS) spans a beautiful section of the San Marcos River and involves a number of exciting rapids and portages. The TJWS is the third and shortest race of the trilogy of annual races associated with and including the classic 260-mile Texas Water Safari. 

Congratulations to Eric Whicker & Joel Truitt who took 2nd place Aluminum Class and came in 7th overall out of 62 boats finishing in 2:26:08.  Also medaling was Zach Elkins (paddling with Mark Schattenberg) who came in 1st in the Novice Class finishing in 2:35:07; and Suzanne Pham & Su Boone with a 2nd place Novice Class 2:52:57 finish.

Teddy Gray & Hau Pham placed 4th in Mixed; David Nollsch & Matt Sandel placed 6th Aluminum; and Diane Thixton & Kelly Truitt placed 9th Aluminum.  Suzanne & Su and Diane & Kelly were the first two women’s teams to finish coming in 25th and 26th respectively overall.

Perspectives on the Race:

David – “It was exciting to race on this beautiful and swift portion of the San Marcos River.  The portages break up the race and make it even more fun.  Best of all was being introduced to the community of local marathon paddlers.  Everyone was welcoming, helpful, and full of knowledge.  What a great group of folks.  I particularly enjoyed meeting John Bugge and appreciated his advice on trimming our canoe for next time!  Racing with Matt is great and he has taught me a good deal about the river and paddling marathon canoes.”

Hau – (after he and Teddy’s encounter with a big rock)  “WET”


Team Hokulele had a great time at the TOCC Sprints which included 500m, 1000m, 1500m for Men's, Women's & Mixed Crew. The Team was fortunate to win 9 of 12 races.