[ PADDLING ]
Lokahi wins its first
regatta of the season
It appears the back end of the first real south swell of the summer was exactly what perennial Na Ohana O Na Hui Waa power Lokahi Canoe Club needed to finally create some waves this regatta season.
With breakers still in the 4- to 8-foot-face range yesterday at Waikiki Beach for the Waikiki Beachboys Invitational Regatta, Lokahi broke through in convincing fashion for its first victory in what has been a sub-par season for the club.
Lokahi -- which has set the Hui Waa standard with 20 championships since 1980 -- negotiated the challenging surf successfully on its way to 66 total points and a regatta-high nine race wins, finishing well ahead of second-place Kaneohe in the AAA division (25-36 crews entered). Kaneohe ended up with 49 points and five wins.
Kaneohe had won all seven previous regattas this year.
"I think everyone just had fun," Lokahi head coach Robert Viernes said. "We just had fun, didn't take it as seriously. They relaxed more, and the boat felt better."
As the only surf race in Hui Waa competition, the Beachboys Regatta technically did not count toward the association standings. But because the event is the last before Saturday's association championships, Viernes thinks yesterday's result could boost his paddlers' hopes of picking up some quality wins at the championships and, maybe, challenge defending champion Kaneohe for this year's title.
"We needed this to bring the momentum up," Viernes said. "We're down on our doubts this year. So this is good. But (Kaneohe's) kids alone are usually enough for them to win."
Said Kaneohe assistant coach Junior Parrilla: "This is actually a fun week, and we'll go back now and train harder for the Hui Waa Championships. ... The thing is competition makes everyone better, competition is a good thing."
While the surf helped cause the first shake-up in AAA this season, it wasn't enough to do the same in the AA (13-24 crews) and A (12 and fewer) divisions, where Koa Kai (49 in AA) and the host Beachboys (35 in A) remained undefeated after eight regattas.
There were more than a few crashes during the 36-race event, with three clubs (Kaneohe, Ka Mamalahoe and Imua) having to borrow canoes because of damage suffered to theirs.
"See, that's what it's all about -- catching a wave like that," said Beachboys head coach Sean Monahan, as he watched one crew keep fast and straight on a 6-foot ride while avoiding being broadsided by another wave during the second-to-last race of the day. "Everyone was hoping the swell would hold for another day, and it held pretty good."
Considering the small number of races they entered (11), the Beachboys did well to come away with four wins. One of them was by less than a second in the prestigious 1 1/2-mile senior men's race. But the victories did not include the senior women's race, a division in which they've been dominant this year.
The Beachboys finished second at 12 minutes, 25.75 seconds, more than a half-minute behind Lokahi's winning 11:49.24. Lokahi's crew members were Christina Clinton, Bozo Vierra, Diana Valdez, Carol Jaxon, Darlene Morikawa and Mike Cushnie (crews could choose anyone -- man or woman -- to steer because of the surf).
Until the Beachboys' run this year, no crews other than those from Lokahi had won the senior women's race since 1997.
"We got a good set coming in," Morikawa said. "Winning always feels awesome. As a crew, we look always to ourselves and depend on each other to pull together -- and that's what we did."
The Beachboys' winning senior men's time was 11:42.55, less than a tick ahead of second-place Windward Kai at 11:43.43. Winning crew members were Andrew Roth, Cory Beall, James Richmond, Scott Hall, Mike Beason and Owen Cenal.