The spirit of “aloha,” and the importance of pono, or doing what is morally right and selfless, resonates in abundance in Hawaii. When you live pono, part of your creed is to live by being positive and supportive of others, sharing your strtengths and making a positive impact. During the many years we have known Naish team rider, Suzie Cooney, (Suzie Trains Maui) she has shared her pono ways in abundance.
During the weekend of May 1-3 and the Saturday before that, our friend, Suzie Cooney, was a very busy woman. From leading a Saturday practice 3-mile fun race with Archie Kalepa to hosting a fantastic demo day (see video with training tips from the pros below) she shared her experience and energy with many.
55 paddlers completed our 3 mile practice paddle in preparation for the OluKai 7th Annual Ho’olaule’a. Everyone helped each other and no one gave up. From the first board in the water to the last one on the beach we had the confidence based in Suzie’s planning and the team of volunteers that swept us along with jetski support and sweeping paddlers going stroke for stroke with the last in the group. The confidence and spirit of “fun in the sea” mixed with glides, new friends and smiles made it a super experience. We are not on Maui often enough, but it is awesome to get this feeling of community, sharing and “pono” during a visit.
It would be easy to observe the stoke and energy Suzie shares with so many and marvel at how fit she is and how easy she makes it look. You will never hear her complain, but she does have her share of hurdles. Perhaps that is one reason she can empathize so well with the “first time racing nervous Nellies,” or the “I can’t find the time or motivation to train,” among us. In any event, if you have the chance to train with Suzie or enjoy any of her events you’ll get a hefty dose of both aloha and example of pono.
On the morning of the Olukai Ho’olaule’a all I needed to be concerned with was getting to Kelly Moore’s Watertime shuttle and make sure to have my hydration pack. at 9 am I was organized, laughing and chatting with friends and Ed. We got to Maliko Gulch for the start of the race, joined in the traditional prayer circle and headed out for epic conditions, What had Suzie been doing that morning? Our friends Steve Gorton and Laurie Heuermann – who participated in the Suzie-led 3 mile Olukai Fun Paddle (9 am start) shared the story, “Suzie made us all feel welcome, she warmed us up with exercise and some motivation for our minds. She walked with us to the water where we were all a little freaked out by the shore break. She saw that Laurie was having a challenge getting her big board into the water. Suzie came over and showed Laurie some techniques for managing shore break, helped push her board out to sea and in no time Laurie was up and paddling.”
On the morning of the Olukai Ho’olaule’a after all of her work getting the Fun Paddle athletes on their way, Suzie got over to Maliko Gulch, paddled the gnarly route out to the start – encouraging friends and her students along the way. She paddled and glided her way through some epic, wonderful conditions all the way to a first place finish in her age group.
As we finished the event in our own unique time it was great fun to line the beach and cheers the others in. And guess what – there was Suzie again. Full of stoke and with a grin and a hug she joined several of her students at the finish – congratulating goals attained.
As the race and surf season builds through Summer and Fall we all have a chance to compete with pono. Share your skills, your stoke and your time when you can. Long after we all forget how we placed we remember and treasure the incredible feeling and opportunity to share time on the water with like-minded paddlers.
Live with pono – paddle with power, collect memories.