Three years ago, Mendonca and Baldado were on the Puna men 50 crew that won a state title, along with Tuaolo. That 2016 crew also finished the season with an undefeated record. That trio also completed the perfect record feat in the men 50 and earned a state championship in 2015, proving that Green Pride only gets better with age.
Mendonca took the AOW honor but passed along praise to his crew, especially Puna chief Tuaolo.
“I am honestly so grateful to paddle with a bunch of very dedicated and driven men,” Mendonca said. “Big mahalo to Afa, who has not only been our coach but a true inspiration for all of us to be the best we can be. He truly is an amazing person.”
Favorite movie: Rocky
Favorite foods: Kalua pig, Lau Lau, ake, opihi, sweet Maui onions, Hawaiian salt
Favorite athlete: David Goggins
Favorite thing about paddling: Training to win
Favorite spot on Big Island: King’s Landing