About Us - Team Bios- Wasabi

Wasabi Fury


Premier Mixed Program

Coach: Ken Polnicky
Manager: Maili Halvorsen

Originally “Wasabi Mixed,” and then "Wasabi Burn" Wasabi Fury is the designated mixed premier team for Wasabi Paddling Club and was the founding team of the club when established in 1993. Wasabi Fury is a team of men and women of many ages, many backgrounds, and all with a fierce desire to compete. The team has competed in races from Vancouver, Canada, to San Francisco, USA, to Penang, Malaysia. Team members have also raced for Team USA in world competition in Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific.

We would like to welcome out new coach, Ken Polnicky formerly of Paddles of Fury. Ken is an engineer and has been paddling since 2003. His dedication to training is legendary. His coaching technique is known to inspire the desire to improve, work really hard and face challenges as a group with positive team spirit.  

The spirit is embodied in the new Wasabi Fury battle cry of makaukau! makaukau! It means competent, capable, efficient, prepared and an expert and is used to imply a state of readiness. In the last few moments of every race when the win is insight, Coach Ken yells "makaukau." Then in unison we roar the reply, "hai" meaning Yes! We're ready! We can do this!

Wasabi Grand Masters Mixed


Grand Masters Mixed Program

Coach: Corky Lai
Captain: Connie Cavagnaro, Fran Halpin
Manager: Luanha Ude

The Grand Masters are a group of paddler/athletes aged 50 and over belonging to Wasabi Paddling Club located in Portland, Oregon. We compete in races around the world enjoying all the travel and excitement that dragon boat racing has to offer and scratching our "competitive itch" in the process.

We most recently won the Governors Trophy in Vancouver B.C in 2013 and the Grand Dragons Challenge Cup in Victoria B.C. in 2014 (for the 4th year in a row) and competed at the 2010 Club Crew World Championships in Macau, China. In 2014 we competed in the Senior C category at the Club Crew World Championships in Ravenna, Italy.

Wasabi: Force, Impact & Power


Women's Program

Coach: Carol Hoekstra
Assistant Coaches: Bren Trask
Manager: Lisa Hillhouse 

We are a crew of powerful, competitive women of all ages who love to race and train and have a passion for paddling together. We care about each other and have a blast paddling throughout the year, primarily in dragon boats but we also train and race in outrigger canoes.


We compete locally, nationally and internationally. Our crews recently competed at the Club Crew World Championships in Ravenna, Italy and previously in Hong Kong, China.

Wasabi Team SOAR

Women’s Cancer Survivor Program

Coach: Lori Sloan
Manager: Rusty Blythe

Wasabi SOAR (Survivors On A River) is dedicated to promoting the fun, camaraderie, and health benefits of dragon boat racing to women cancer survivors and their supporters. Our paddlers range in age from mid-30's to mid-80's. SOAR is open to survivors of all cancers, not just breast cancer. We welcome women of all ages and levels of fitness; our motto is 'paddle to a healthier you.' We encourage survivors to discover a new passion for paddling and racing while developing lifelong friendships with the other women on the team.

Wasabi Special Dragons


Coach: Gwen Foley
Assistant Coach: Gretchen Yost

Special Dragons is a team made up of developmentally and physically disabled athletes. The team was founded in 1997 and has been racing in the Portland-Kaohsiung Sister City Dragon Boat Races for over 10 years. We joined the Wasabi Paddling Club in 2006 and are involved in the social and community activities of the club. Our primary mission is to help build individual fitness and confidence, develop teamwork skills and improve self-esteem in our paddlers. Our team loves being included in Portland activities through their love of dragon boating. Many of these athletes also participate throughout the year in other Special Olympic sports as well. Wasabi is honored to have these athletes as part of our club.

Wasabi VIP

Head Coach: Maureen Hartung  
Technical Coach: Lynn Davis
Team Captain: Char Cook

Wasabi VIP (Visually Impaired Paddlers) 
Team VIP was formed in 2013. Many of us have been involved with other visually impaired teams including Blind Ambition and Lethally Blind. Some have been long time paddlers of other Wasabi teams. Our ages range from the 20's to the 70's. We are from all walks of life. We have a variety of vision challenges ranging from low vision (legally blind) to completely blind. A handful of fully sighted team members help us safely navigate the Willamette River.  That which we all have in common is the love of paddling and the spirit of competition that dragon boat racing provides.

Wasabi Team Kraken


Junior Program

Coach: Kathleen Fuller
Assistant Coach: Conor Eifler
Managers: Ann and Doug Malkasian

Wasabi Kraken, named after a legendary sea monster, Kraken is our junior team (less than 19 years of age) formed in the summer of 2006 from a core group of Cleveland High School students from Portland, Oregon. Although Cleveland had had a long history of teams who competed in the Portland Rose Festival races, there were students in the 2006 races who wanted to continue to paddle as a team throughout the racing season. They partnered with Wasabi Paddling Club to form Wasabi Kraken. Kraken is open to kids from all area schools and currently has members that proudly represent 8 different high schools across the Portland metropolitan area. Schools represented include Cleveland, Riverdale, Sunset, Spring Water Trail, Liberty, Milwaukee, Lincoln, and Beaverton.

Kraken members are fierce yet gracious competitors that pride themselves on teamwork and individual respect.

Team Kapakahi (Women’s Outrigger)   Team_kapakahi

Contact: managers@kapakahi.teamsnap.com

Team Kapakahi is a competitive, team-oriented women’s outrigger crew. Our members are athletic, dedicated and supportive women who commit to three practices a week, with occasional time trials, small-boat training, video review and coaching clinics. We train year-round and compete in several summer long-distance races, and plan to introduce sprints into our racing schedule.

We are currently recruiting committed outrigger paddlers who are interested in joining our positive, fun and competitive crew. We ask interested paddlers to come out and sub three times before committing – to give everyone a chance to see if we’re the right fit. Our current OC6 training schedule is Tuesday 5:30-7:30pm, Thursday 5-7pm and Sunday 8-10am.

Wasabi Tide Runners of Nehalem Bay Tide_runners

Coach: Char von Ahfeld windweaver@comcast.net

The Wasabi Tide Runners completed its second season as a dragon boat team in 2014 and what a season it has been. We are a team of full-time and part-time coastal residents that were able to form and become part of Wasabi Paddling Club. We now represent the club in its expanded location at Nehalem Bay.

We practice Saturday morning's starting at 9:00am from April through October. We suspend paddling in the winter months due to the typical coastal weather.  

We are thrilled to bring the sport of dragon boating to the Oregon Coast and are looking forward to the 2015 season. Please contact us at the e-mail above if you are interested in meeting some great people, getting a thrilling workout and discovering what dragon boating is all about.

The Wasabi Villiage is made up of 10 dragon boat teams as well as an outrigger canoe program. When you join Wasabi, you will be able to choose which team(s) you want to paddle with. Different teams have different practice schedules and compete in different divisions. See the team bios to the left for team details.

While you will join the team(s) that fit you best, you will always be a member of Wasabi Paddling Club.