Top 6 Paddlers Vote

Reading the Top 5 One Man Canoe thread got me thinking that a top 6 ranking of paddlers might be an interesting thing to discuss. Pick 6, just because you can kind of do a 6-man "dream team" for the ultimate paddling crew. And no using the exact lineup from Team NZ-HI, although most of those guys would probably make up the top though. Try throw in couple sleepers.

Writing this at work, so cant go into details and justification into each one, maybe later, but here are in my mind, the top 6 paddlers in the sport right now. In no particular order. Is there a way we can keep track of votes for each? Maybe a tally post every once in a while.

Karel Jr.
Kea Paiaina
Maui Kjeldson
Mike Judd
Manny Kulukulualani
Tapa Worthington

Submitted by bradh on Fri, 06/18/2004 - 1:52pm

Your six looks good. What about Danny Ching, I forget where he placed this year in Molokai but I think it was pretty high. Also are you talking the best currently, or all time? You have to include Nappy Napoleon somewhere in the top. His steering and paddling ability at his age are awesome. He was amazing even 20 years ago...

#1 Sat, 06/19/2004 - 6:53am

You have to include Kai Bartlett who might actually be no. 1 or 2 and also Aaron Napolean. Nappy is top for his age group.

#2 Sat, 06/19/2004 - 9:58am

All your suggestions for a OC 6 'dream crew' are noteworthy, but why is it that the line-up consists mainly of Hawaii based paddlers? I am not disputing the reputation of paddling in Hawaii, but it would be remiss of us to overlook our cousins in Eastern Polynesia. How about the likes of George Cronsteadt or Lewis Laughlin? I think their accomplishments and achievements definitley go a long way to their inclusion in this list. Hmmm.. Just a thought, what does anyone else think?

#3 Sun, 06/20/2004 - 7:22pm

who are the top tahitian paddlers? I know nothing about tahiti... they seem to pretty much be the paddling capital of the world yet i think most of us don't know much about what goes on down there. howcome they do not really travel to hawaii for any of the one man races, and how do people from hawaii do when they travel to tahiti for some of those huge races they have? To me it is so amazing how well they do at the world sprints, watching them paddle is truly inspiring... i just wish i knew more about paddling in tahiti...
i dont know if its possible to make a single dream team crew there are a lot of amazingly impressive guys out there, can't really leave any of them out cause they'll all do equally as well.. the 12 paddlers mentioned in the other posts should all be on the dream crew, plus some others

#4 Sun, 06/20/2004 - 10:20pm

I would be really interested in getting a better grasp on who the top paddlers are outside of Hawaii. Is it true that Tahitian Paddlers have a somewhat different style? By style, I heard that they have really fast stroke counts and impeccable timing in the boat. Just something I heard a while ago, I think it was when Team Ra'i won the Molokai Hoe.

Nappy would definitely fall into the "all time" paddler category. Danny Ching is the man too. It definitely is hard to pick just 6 for so many different reasons.

#5 Tue, 06/22/2004 - 9:02am

Tough call on who to put in a six. I'd like to see Karel & Danny compete in a change though. Karel controls the surf and Danny owns the flats. It would make for an interesting result.

I was up in Canada this last weekend. I saw the canoe that Danny raced in the May Molokai solo. The guy on it was no Danny Ching, by this I mean he was a big guy. I thought that was Stingray country up there. I was told that the kaku was a small mans canoe but that big guy was smokin along chasing the ride on these wierd little water taxi boats they have. Guess thats why they call them crazy canadians. Tried to find him but couldnt. Wanted to hear what a big guy felt about the canoe. Anyone else big that paddled the kaimana?

#6 Thu, 06/24/2004 - 1:27pm

Sure there are the top 6 paddlers. But like any other sport there is always the top 6. But there's always the underdogs, that thrive on beating those so called top 6 or whoever!! I know of a few, HAWAII only, paddlers, that could very well make the top 6 and people you should be watching for.
Mike Hangai
Alfred Van Gieson
David Beck
Mike Silva
Andrew Penny

Just to name a few.

#7 Fri, 06/25/2004 - 10:35am

Surely you can pick 6 strong talented paddlers but to be a dream team you have to have 6 that trust and know each other very well. I am in a Team from New Zealand and although we do not have all the best paddlers in NZ. We are still able to work well as a team and have won almost every race we have entered. They will have to be able to adapt quickly to different environments. Keep an eye out for more Kiwis to take top rankings, as you can see how they made a name for themselves in Hawaii, Like Maui, Andy, Rick and the list goes on.

#8 Wed, 06/30/2004 - 1:28pm

I agree with including Nappy Napolian. He was my head coach at Surf Club in the 60's, Awsome guy!

I would like to also include the very best paddler of our generation and perhaps all time Samson Mokuahi. If you do not know who he is, ask anyone who has raced canoes in the islands for a long time. When he went to the starting line, he would be the stroker to beat.

#9 Mon, 07/05/2004 - 4:36pm

It seems like a lot of the names being mentioned as part of the "dream crew" are all OC-1 paddlers. Let's not forget that there are many paddlers out there who could very well be part of this all star crew that simply choose not to or can't afford an OC-1.

#10 Tue, 07/06/2004 - 5:50pm

If you're putting a crew together to win the channel, I challenge you to name someone not on the list above that doesn't paddle an OC-1 or sufski regularly.

There may be a few but the list would be real short.

#11 Wed, 07/07/2004 - 8:44am

I was up in Canada this last weekend. I saw the canoe that Danny raced in the May Molokai solo. The guy on it was no Danny Ching, by this I mean he was a big guy. I thought that was Stingray country up there. I was told that the kaku was a small mans canoe but that big guy was smokin along chasing the ride on these wierd little water taxi boats they have. Guess thats why they call them crazy canadians. Tried to find him but couldnt. Wanted to hear what a big guy felt about the canoe. Anyone else big that paddled the kaimana?[/quote]

Interesting. I paddle with the Canadian, water taxi wake ridin guy regularly. The canoe seems really fast and surfs great.

BTW, with the departure of Current Designs, manufacturer of Stingrays, from Victoria this summer, this won't be Stingray country much longer. Looking forward to seeing more Hawaiian designs surfin out of Victoria.

#12 Thu, 07/08/2004 - 8:47am

This is a very interesting topic. Let's look at the best six, but select them to fill a particular seat in the six man long distance crew. Who are among the best of all time at each seat position. And then let's select the second crew.


#13 Sun, 07/11/2004 - 11:12am

It seems as if you all don't realize that Kai Bartlett would kick Karel's ass in the surf and will smoke Danny in the flat. Kai is unstoppable and the only reason he didn't win this year is because he had surgery. Wait till he wins next year, then you will see!

#14 Wed, 07/14/2004 - 6:29pm

I just have to jump in here, both karel and kai are grat guys, but karel is hands down the best one man surfer in the world. The only year Kai won the channel karel was in Colorado. Kai is actually better in the flat then Karel, but for kai to beat karel in the channel he would have to have a great day and Karel would have to have a bad one. Kai is defentially the second best, but in the surf karel is the man.

#15 Wed, 07/14/2004 - 8:25pm

The proof is in results. Results will speak when they happen and not before then. Karel is definitely beatable in flats or surf as shown this past year but he is definitely the fastest paddler in the surf. No paddler is unbeatable because there is always someone training and getting better and that is the fun of competition. Main thing is everyone has fun because we not winning any money.

#16 Wed, 07/14/2004 - 10:05pm

"Dream team", "top 6", well, my dream team is myself and the five other guys in my crew. All the guys mentioned above are fricken' awesome, but I haven't paddled with any of them. All I know is the best team out there is the one in which you are in which does better and better, working together and finding that blend. Underdogs rule!!!!!

#17 Thu, 07/15/2004 - 5:43am

I think Kai Bartlett when healthy is definitely one of the best all around paddlers out there. He's flat out fast in any condition. As far as up wind goes, Kea, Mike Judd and Danny all kicked some major ass in the Kaua'i World Championships this year. That guy Leigh from Australia is pretty amazing as well. You can't count out Karel Jr either. So from what I've seen I'd go with those guys as top 6. then you have guys like Maui, Thibert, Andrew Penny, Manny, Napolean, some other guys from Australia and Tahiti that I'm unaware of that are knocking on the door.
1. Kai Bartlett
2. Karel Jr
3. Leigh from Aus
4. Mike Judd
5. Danny Ching
6. Kea Paiaina

#18 Thu, 07/15/2004 - 3:01pm

I like what 1968 a good point there. His dream team is his crew! I like it. I would have to say the best crew out in the water is the one having the most fun. Obviously if you're not having fun with your crew, your mind will start to wander over to all those other boats that are...regardless of placing.[quote]
Underdogs rule!!!!!

#19 Sun, 07/18/2004 - 7:08pm


#20 Mon, 08/23/2004 - 10:23am

Pat..............shut up! :roll:

#21 Mon, 08/23/2004 - 10:24am

Man, here you guys go again... I remember having a similar type of post when somebody spoke about 'the worlds best' before.

You guys tend to have a bit of a myopic view of what makes a great paddler. I agree generally speaking that the list of paddlers you have up here are great paddlers - no doubt about it. But try not to forget, not everyone has the advantage of 1) awesome carbon fibre canoes (only just starting to be built elsewhere in the world); 2) the ability to do the races around hawaii year in year out (most of us save up to do a race in Hawaii once every couple of years) - in some cases these guys are doing the Hawaii Kai run every weekend, so of course home ground advantage counts for a lot; 3) These guys do not venture out of Hawaii much to race, so it is difficult to guage how they would perform in another country in foreign waters etc; 4) Have you guys even heard of Lewis Laughlin, or Georges Cronsteadt? - the former has never lost a 'Super Aito' race, the latter just smoked everyone (including many Hawaiian 'legends') at the World Sprints in Hilo (which was Tahiti 1, 2, and 3 in the single man event).
So, as I mentioned elsewhere on this forum, my point is that a great paddler is one who can win anywhere, anytime, on any type of canoe and in any kind of condition - and do so consistently.

My two cents.

#22 Tue, 08/31/2004 - 8:16pm

If I had to pick 6, these are the guys that I would put in each seat:

  1. Danny Ching
  2. Lewis Laughlin
  3. Maui Kjeldson
  4. Mike Judd
  5. Kai Bartlett
  6. ME (just kidding) Karel Tresnak Jr.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I'm sure everyone else has their own.

#23 Wed, 09/01/2004 - 7:10pm

cocOnut.... we dont know about tahitian paddlers cause it's hard to find information about whats going on down there. They must have some amazing things going on cause they can come to Hawaii and easily kick everyones ass in a sprint. You should write an article for ocpaddler on tahiti, tell us who the best paddlers are, what and when their major races are.. maybe if you could get a hold of some results, i think we'd all be happy to know more... k, just an idea

#24 Wed, 09/01/2004 - 8:37pm

Agree with Luke. Would be very interested to find out more about Tahiti and their paddlers. I hear they have different techniques to make a boat move (higher stroke rates, different grip on paddle, etc.) would be interesting to learn more.

#25 Thu, 09/02/2004 - 12:08pm

Yeah I agree - there isn't much of a 'web presence' for Tahiti paddling. And the sites that are out there are in french so it is often difficult to decipher the results. They can also be quite secretive about their paddling.
I had the privelege of racing against a Tahiti selection (all star) team at the South Pacific Games in Fiji last year, and then again in Hilo at this years World Sprints.
I guess for the most part Tahitian paddlers take their sport very, very seriously, they train like demons, and inevitably clean up the competition (particularly in the sprint races).
Yes their rate is very high, but they focus very much on timing, and and maintaining a smooth flow through the water. You will never see their boat 'rock' up and down like you see with other crews. It is like looking at perfection on the water.
Their big races are the Hawaiki Nui long distance race, which runs over three (or four) days, and starts from the island of Huahine, finishing at Raiatea (36kms), the second legs is a short 'sprint' across to Tahaa island (22 kms); and the last leg runs finishes in Bora Bora (55kms). This race is iron - no changes and is extremely challenging. They have never lost their own races - although a Hawaiian team comprised of Lanikai paddlers came close once.
Another big race is the 'Super Aito' which is the single man series, which is also a long distance race (I think runs between Moorea and Tahiti). The only difference is the race is done rudderless. Tahitians don't believe in paddling single canoe with a rudder (I guess you could say it hasn't really taken off there!). They are strangely quite traditional in that respect - ironic given their V6 canoes are quite diverse in shape etc. This seems to be the opposite in Hawaii, where there is a large variation in single person canoes, but the six person canoes are similar and uniformly heavy (why 400lbs??!! - I heard it is because the original koa canoes were constructed at that weight).
Anyway, that is my insight into the Tahitian style of paddling (oh, and if you can, have a look at the size of their blades - huge). The other thing about Tahitians is they influence the way other South Pacific islands and countries paddle - i.e. New Zealand, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa etc etc.
If you wanted to look at great paddling technique and preparation, then the Tahitians are the model. However, I think when it comes to surfing and downwind racing, the Hawaiians have it sussed. Again, though, in my opinion you have to be strong whatever the condition, canoe or race. In this respect, a team like Team NZ/Hawaii are a fairly complete sort of outfit - they definitely have my respect (after all, every team needs a couple of good strong Kiwis eh?!!!). Just kidding.
Anyway, some thoughts by me...
Ka kite.

#26 Thu, 09/02/2004 - 8:58pm


#27 Sun, 12/26/2004 - 11:16pm

Please register or login to post a comment.

Page loaded in 0.253 seconds.