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.”

 Kelly Truitt - “I was so proud of the six of us. We were all nervous, inexperienced in the ocean, and seemingly outmatched against lighter, faster unlimited boats and more versed racers, but we still wanted to go for it. Our shared focus and determination to apply what we have practiced and willingness to push ourselves beyond our limits for each other is what I love so much about this sport and Team Hokulele.”

The Men’s OC6 crew (Hoang Pham, Joel Truitt, Mike Brooks, Tom Derrah, Hau Pham, and John Swatek) also had a strong race finishing a close 3rd place (1:01:10) in their class, edged out by a mere 7 seconds by the 2nd place Wrightsville Beach team. The men placed 6th overall, again in a field including Unlimited class canoes, and beat one of the lighter Unlimited class boats.

Hokulele also competed well in the small boats.  In the Women’s OC1 Four Miler, Suzanne Pham took 2nd place, Tracy Quon took 3rd place, and Teddy Gray finished 1st place in the senior division.  In the Eight Miler Kelly Truitt & Kaitlin Jiral were 1st in Women’s OC2, Su Boone was 2nd in Women’s OC1, and Tom Derrah finished 3rd in the Men’s OC1 age 50-59 division. Tom read the water well and did some nice surfing on his downwind runs.  Not medaling, but paddling well in a large and strong field of Men’s OC1 age 18-49 competitors, were Hau Pham, Joel Truitt, and Hoang Pham who finished 8th, 9th, and 10th respectively.  Mike Brooks was 4th and David Nollsch 5th in the Men’s OC1 age 50-59 division.

Hokulele extends our congratulations to all the other teams and individual paddlers that excelled at Shark Bite!  It was truly impressive to see so many talented paddlers at one event.  Also, thank you Coach Hau and Suzanne for transporting the OC2 and all the OC1s to Florida and back to Texas.

  Hau Pham – “Proud of Women’s crew, great experience racing in Florida where there is such a strong paddling community, being able to hang with the Florida paddlers is a milestone for Hokulele and is encouragement that our work in small boats is paying off.”