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[ PADDLING ]
Lanikai Canoe Club
Added Nina Moux, team treasurer and wife of the owner: "(This race) is easier for the local paddlers; we don't have these kinds of (rough) seas (in Tahiti). We arrived first of the three teams from Tahiti, and we are very happy with this result. We know Lanikai is a very strong paddling team."
Other members in Lanikai's top crew included: John Foti, Peter Binney, Kekoa Bruhn, Kaai Bruhn, Mike Judd, Dave Daniels and Mike Pedersen. Daniels and Kaai Bruhn were the only new additions since Lanikai's 2000 win. Six paddled at a time, rotating with open-ocean changes.
Since its win four years ago, Lanikai placed second to Team NZ┌H by a mere 2 seconds in the closest finish in history in 2001, and was again the runner-up to the same team last year.
Lanikai did not do particularly well in the long-distance races leading up to the Molokai Hoe this year, but yesterday, with all nine competing together for the first time this season, something clicked.
At the outset of the race, all the contenders were battling tightly, said Kekoa Bruhn. "But we started clicking together. That's the best part about us guys: Once we're locked in, we just float, and we just go."
Though the Tahitian teams raced out in the flat water at the start of the course, Lanikai began to use its surfing ability to take control in the 3- to 5-foot waves in the channel and built about a 1/4- to 1/2-mile lead over Shell Vaa.
It was a lead the club would not relinquish as it made a straight line for Diamond Head after rounding Rabbit Island. Shell Vaa eventually tried to gamble off of Oahu's south shore by breaking off the same line and heading inside of Lanikai.
"We just strung together more bumps (waves) than the other guys," Jim Foti said. "Everybody pushed really hard, everyone wanted it."
"This one is extra special," added Kekoa Bruhn, "because my brother (Kaai) paddled with me, and everyone said this is the one when all the top teams were here."
Among the other winners yesterday, Mooloolaba of Australia took the masters 40 division in 5:29:47, good enough for 14th overall. Team Big Island won the masters 55 in 5:53:53, while Na Molokama O Hawaii took the masters 50 in 5:57:41.
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