Paddling To Victory With Uncle Randy

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - June 30, 2010
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Randy Sanborn steers his Mixed 60s crew, (from seat one) Ed Lemire, Peggy Cutting, Donna Machado, Kimo Wheeler and Carol Green, to win the Haleiwa regatta

They say good things come to those who wait. It’s especially sweet when the payoff involves good people - like Randy Sanborn.

After 26 long years, which included several “close calls” and “near misses,” Sanborn’s North Shore-based Manu O Ke Kai Canoe Club captured its first-ever regatta title at Haleiwa Beach - on what better day than Father’s Day.

“I was thinking this is our home grounds and it’s Fathers Day, it would be unreal if we won for all the fathers in the club,” says Sanborn of the Na Ohana Na Hui Wa’a North Shore Regatta. “As the day came to an end and I saw our lead, I knew the wait was over. What a Father’s Day present!”

Manu O Ke Kai won seven races and finished with 71 points to win the regatta - one week after another close call at Keehi Lagoon.

“I can’t describe it; we’ve been trying for years and years and we’ve come close so many times, even losing by one point at Keehi,” recalls Sanborn. “This week everything just fell into place. After 26 years of waiting, we finally got it!”

The memorable win sent Sanborn back in time. He and wife Aloha shared a dream in 1984 of organizing a canoe club for North Shore residents. He recalls the special day it all came to fruition.

“Feb. 7, 1984, my wife’s birthday,” he laughs, and continues, “never thought it would take this long to get one.”

Since then, Sanborn has coached thousands of residents from all across Oahu. Some make the drive from Ewa Beach and Makakilo, others from as far away as Kahaluu, just to paddle for “Uncle Randy.”

“Uncle Randy Sanborn has been the head of Manu since its beginning,” says club member Cynthia Broc. “His dedication to this club is overwhelming.”

And life has come full circle for many members.

Some of the children Sanborn coached more than 25 years ago have returned to the club with their own children.

“Their kids are paddling for me, and many are getting back in the canoe after taking years off,” says Sanborn. “It’s unreal satisfaction, a real family atmosphere.”

It was the atmosphere Randy and Aloha wanted to create. The Sanborns know all about being a family. Aloha is the secretary for Hui Wa’a Association and both sons not only paddle, they also help coach. Moku is the men’s open coach and Kekoa is the boys coach.

“It’s great to have my family by my side, and now my grandkids are paddling in the club,” he says proudly. “We started with 69 paddlers and two canoes, and now we have 12 canoes and more than 200 paddlers. I have five original members who are still with me and most of us are still paddling into our 60s.”

And while the regatta victory was elusive, Sanborn will tell you his club members always have been winners in his mind. Only now, they all have a title to prove it.

The wait is over.

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer man and his family.

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