Martinez outrigger canoe club wins in New Zealand

submitted by Matthew Chamberlain

The Golden State Outrigger Canoe Club (GSOCC) recently traveled to Aukland, New Zealand to compete in the country’s premier outrigger distance race, the Takapuna Cup.  Golden State arrived with six race crews competing across multiple women’s and co-ed divisions.  These teams were supported by GSOCC Club Members Marianne Sapiandante, (Artis Souza and Stacey Wilson?) who were indispensable in providing coordination, registration and generally keeping track of everything for the race teams.

The Takapuna Cup attracts outrigger canoe race teams from around the world to compete for the prestige of winning an international regatta.   Teams from Australia, Tahiti, The Cook Islands, Tonga and Hawaii as well as New Zealand participated in this event.  Many of these teams paddle competitively in multiple international events each year.  So the Golden State Teams were up against some tough competition.   Here’s how they stacked up against other teams from around the world:

13 Mile Distance Races

Co-Ed Open Team Maverics – This Team has the premier showing during the races.  They beat 38 other teams to win not only their division but were the first place finisher overall.  From the starting gun, the Maverics led 38 other teams around the course to take the win.  Members were interviewed by New Zealand’s Sky TV which broadcast the race.

Team Members:  George Marshall, Laura Chan, Nicole Garcia, Justin Martinez, Justin Beutel, Marie Low

Finishing Place – 1st on the Co-Ed Open Division and overall winner of the Women’s and Co-Ed race group.

Left-to-Right:  Marie Low, Nichole Garcia, Justin Martinez, Justin Beutel, George Marshall, Laura Chan

Co-Ed Senior Masters Team OG – This was Golden State’s Masters Team with members aging between 50 and 60.  They finished 3rd in their division beating many other international teams.

Team Members:  Amy Marshall, Devina Horstmann, Darrell Hamilton, Lori Rogers, Clarence Peralta, Matt Chamberlain.

Finishing Place – 3rd in the Co-Ed Senior Masters Division

Left-to-Right:  Lori Rogers, Matt Chamberlain, Devina Horstmann, Clarence Peralta, Amy Marchall, Darrell Hamilton (Not Shown)

Master Women’s Team Manangs – This team of Master Women didn’t quite make the podium but battled it out with others throughout the whole race.  For some on the team, it was their first international competition having previously raced only in Northern California.

Team Members:  Marissa Cruz, Meilin Duncan, Amber Escamilla, Eliza Wee, Erin Musni, Angela Delatorre

Finishing Place – 9th in the Master Women’s Division

3.2 Mile Distance Races

Women’s Novice Team Let’s Jam – This was the first international race for these Golden State Ladies.  As such, they were competing against some highly experienced crews in this course.  Great job powering through the whole race ladies!

Team Members:  Jillian Lyles, Shelley Ramos , Tracey Panek, Laurie Smith, Meilin Duncan, Jaz Canez.

Finishing Place – 14th in the Women’s Division

Women’s Team Pau Hana – These ladies can’t be kept off the water!  They used this race to get ready for the next day’s 13 mile race.

Team Members:  Amy Marshall, Amber Escamilla, Lori Rogers, Eliza Wee, Nicole Garcia, Angela Delatorre.

Finishing Place – 11th in the Women’s Division

Co-Ed Team Nakoa – This Golden State Team, which included Golden State’s Senior member Nelson Ahlstrom, finished a strong 7th in their division.

Team Members:  Marissa Cruz, Devina Horstmann, Nelson Ahlstrom, Darrell Hamilton, Erin Musni, Hussein Sayre.

Finishing Place – 7th in the Co-Ed Division

While the Golden State Teams came to race, they also forged ties with some of the Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand.  GSOCC Team member Tracey Wihongi Panek (Nga Puhi Tribe) immigrated to the U.S. from New Zealand and still has family there. Upon arrival, Tracey arranged for the Golden State Team members to be welcomed to New Zealand in a traditional Māori way.  The ceremony, called a Powhiri, was held at the Awataha Marae, a Māori community area.  Tracey’s cousin, Te Kauri Wihongi, represented GSOCC speaking for the team in Te Reo, the Māori language. The Powhiri included formal greetings from members of the marae while the GSOCC Team described the reason for their visit. The team even learned several Māori waiata or songs to sing as part of the ceremony.  Afterwards, the GSOCC Team members ate a meal with the Māori members and got to know each other.  Now, all the GSOCC members have a place to call home whenever they arrive in New Zealand!

Golden State Outrigger Canoe Club is a non-profit club located at the Sea Scouts facility near the Martinez Marina.

In 2024, the club will host two races:

1)      The Race Around the Can – A 5 mile V-1 race starting from the Alvarez 9th Street Park, in Benicia, CA on Saturday, March 11th.

2)      The Sugar Run – A 13 Mile Distance Race for 6-Person canoes on June 29th. Starting at the Martinez Marina the race will go out to the C&H Plant in Crokett and back.

More details about Golde State Outrigger may be found at the club’s website:

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