Team HPL Black wins the Hawaii Polo Life Spring Invitational and hundreds of attendees treated to world-class polo on O‘ahu’s North Shore. An elite line-up of eight hand-selected pro polo players traveled to Hawai‘i from around the world to go head-to-head at The Hawaii Polo Life Spring Invitational at the Hawaii Polo Club in Mokulēʻia. The audience saw exciting polo in a 20-goal match tournament –the highest goal polo match ever to be played at this club in 30 years – and watched as Team Black reaped the championship title that day on O‘ahu’s famed North Shore.
Upon the start of the match, teams Hawaii Polo Life (HPL) Black and HPL White lined up as Leilani Johnson and Guillaume Sadeler both performed a beautiful commemorative “throw-in.” As Captain of HPL Black Luis Escobar assumed first possession of the ball, his teammates Dawson, Zedda and Hall immediately broke for the goal with the trade winds behind them. Hall and Zedda caused confusion amongst the defensive prowess of HPL White, giving Dawson an open lane to the goal. Escobar sailed a perfect pass towards the goal into the receiving mallet of Dawson and with two simple off-side taps, Dawson gave HPL Black an early 1-0 Lead. As the 1st chukker unfolded, HPL White was able to stop numerous offensive attempts on goal by HPL black. With under a minute remaining, Zavaletta was able to weave his way through heavy traffic and score HPL White’s first goal, and as the 1st chukker concluded the score was 1-1.
In the 2nd chukker, HPL White asserted their offensive strength with Zavaletta scoring quickly as Uretz, Gracida and Dailey provided zone coverage of the HPL Black defense. With the score holding steady at 2-1 in favor of HPL White, the spectators got to witness world-class polo offensive and defensive maneuvers from both the Black and White teams. Both teams traversed up and down the field with such grace and speed. In the final two minutes of the chukker, Hall of HPL Black was able to tie the match at 2-2, but HPL White had a measured response with the agility and keenness of Gracida, allowing HPL White to re-take the lead 3-2 at the completion of two chukkers.
The 3rd chukker saw a flurry of goals by both teams giving the attendees a unique experience of delicate mallet work, precise passing and brilliant horsemanship. The ever so persistent Uretz was able to score one for the HPL White, but this was no match of the four total goals scored by each member of HPL Black. As the bell sounded and the official half-time commenced, HPL White trailed HPL Black 4-6.
At halftime, emcees Kaiki Ragragola, Jobeth Devera and Scotty B welcomed hundreds of guests to join them on the field for a customary “Divot Stomp” set to remixed disco grooves by DJ Toma. It was a true party atmosphere with great music, dancing and divot repair along with a drill performance by polo player Noelani Picollo and friends, and an acrobat performance by Cos Acro. People from all walks of life gathered and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Mokulēʻia Beach and Mt. Ka‘ala.
The 4th chukker saw HPL Black further extending their lead by two goals, thanks to the power and poise of Hall. HPL White had minimized any further bleeding thanks to the defensive skills of Dailey and Zavaletta. As the bell sounded, HPL Black had a commanding lead 8-4.
In the 5th and final chukker, HPL White was quick to narrow the gap with Zavaletta scoring two consecutive goals. However, with Escobar’s formidable defensive strength for HPL Black, Hall was able to score yet another goal increasing HPL Black’s lead 9-6. With under a minute left to play, HPL White’s Dailey, Gracida and Uretz were able to isolate the HPL offensive giving Zavaletta time to advance towards goal, however, this proved too little too late. In the final seconds, HPL Black was able to regain possession and Hall carried the ball at the mid-field sideline right in front of the VIP section. While in full-stride and swing, Hall hit a booming 140-yard shot directly into the trade winds, perfectly splitting the goal posts. HPL Black was victorious against HPL White, 10-6.
Following the match was a high-energy, oceanfront concert by top Billboard reggae recording artist and North Shore native Landon McNamara, whose hit record “Loss for Words” is currently no.1 on iTunes and Hawaii radio stations.
The Hawaii Polo Life Invitational is the vision and passion of Chris Dawson, who is a prominent Native Hawaiian and business leader and an avid horseman and polo player who served on the Board of the United States Polo Association for more than 10 years. While serving on the national board, he had a unique opportunity to participate in the marketing, branding, and merchandising of the sport of polo on a global scale while simultaneously bringing it to life here in Hawaii.
Support for The Hawaii Polo Life Spring Invitational was provided by Settle Meyer Law, Red Bull, Casa Dragones, Silva Events Hawaii, Hawaii Volcanic Water, LaMarca Prosecco, Aloha Beer and Pepsi Beverages Company.
For more information, visit www.hplinvitational.com
ABOUT HAWAII POLO LIFE
Hawaii Polo Life (HPL) is a lifestyle and apparel brand that pays tribute to polo, the sport of kings, which has been played in Hawaii since 1880. The brand honors the historic, luxurious and highly-adorned polo life in the Hawaiian Islands. As a strong community supporter of land and ocean sports, HPL sponsors both polo and ocean athletes. A portion of every HPL sale goes towards supporting The Hawaii International Polo Association (HIPA). For more information, visit www.hawaiipololife.com.
ABOUT HAWAII INTERNATIONAL POLO ASSOCIATION
The Hawaii International Polo Association (HIPA) was founded in 2013. The most reputable polo players in Hawaii serve as advisors and ambassadors, each with more than 20-years of polo experience and contributions to Hawaii. This Association not only celebrates the rich history of polo in Hawaii, but also assures that the next century is even more spectacular. Our challenge now is to ensure polo’s place in Hawaii for generations to come. Toward this goal, Hawaii Polo Productions was created to
identify unique venues, produce world-class polo events and showcase individual and collective talents. Hawaii should be showcasing world-class polo. In doing so, we celebrate our rich history of polo in the Hawaiian Islands, dating back to 1880 during the reign of our King David Kalakaua, while promoting polo for future generations.
Photo: Cecil Davis