CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Louis Figueroa, Aaron Abbey, Jesse Kakainai, Ikaika Schilling, Seth Ramolete and Moki Anderson won the Men's Senior race at Na Ohana o Na Hui Wa'a for Kaneohe Canoe Club yesterday.
Kaneohe keeps winning
The club gears up for states by taking the Hui Wa'a again
The familiar story line in the Na Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a is a good one for the Kaneohe Canoe Club.
It unfolded yesterday much the same as it has for almost a handful of years now. Kaneohe won the AAA division (25-plus crews entered) at the Hui Wa'a Championship Regatta at Keehi Lagoon for a fourth straight time with 83 total points and a regatta-high 11 race wins in the 36-race event.
(Two additional races for state championship qualification were also run, but they did not count in the overall standings).
"I'll be honest. I don't expect anything from the beginning of the race; I don't keep score," Kaneohe head coach Clint Anderson said. "We prepared two weeks for this race (skipping a regatta that did not count toward the season standings), and it helped.
"From the kids to the adults, we did real well. This is important for us."
Runner-up Lokahi finished well behind Kaneohe, with 56 points, while Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i placed third with 51.
Relying on its traditional strength -- Kaneohe's youth paddlers, who race mostly during the first half of the regatta -- the club built a huge lead early with seven wins in 13 races. The youths amassed 48 points on their own.
One of those wins came in the 1/4-mile girls 14 race, a division in which Kaneohe completed the Hui Wa'a season undefeated.
"It's a good feeling, an honor," said the crew's stroker, Aulani Saizon. Winning is "a good feeling every time."
The Windward-side club also got four wins from its adults, including a surprising victory in the prestigious senior men's race, which it had won just once previously all season.
Using a first-time stroker, Louis Figueroa, and a crew that also included Aaron Abbey, Seth Ramolete, Jessie Makainai, Stuttgart Schilling and Moki Anderson, Kaneohe finished the 1 1/2-mile course in 11 minutes and 54.34 seconds. Manu O Ke Kai (12:00.74) finished second, and the Waikiki Beach Boys (12:02.46) third.
"Today was the perfect formula," said steersman Moki Anderson, Clint's son. "We tried something different, nothing to lose."
Kaneohe has yet to lose a regatta this summer -- with seven regular-season wins and the association championship -- and can now look forward to competing in the state championships at the same location on Aug. 5. The top three Hui Wa'a crews for the season in each race qualified for states.
"The states is another story -- a big, competitive competition," Clint Anderson said. "We're not gonna get a big head from winning. We're good in Hui Wa'a, and we have pride in what we do. We're just Kaneohe, and we just come to paddle."
Manu O Ke Kai won the AA division (13-24 crews) with 45 points and four race wins, while defending division champion Koa Kai (31) finished as the runner-up.
Like Kaneohe, the Beach Boys also pulled off a four-peat, handily taking the A division (12-fewer crews) for a fourth consecutive year with 40 points and seven race victories. Hawaiian Outrigger placed second with 13.
Among Beach Boys' wins, its senior women's crew smashed the field once again, finishing the 1 1/2-mile race in 12:49.75 to second-place Lokahi's 13:27.72.
The Beach Boys have not lost this race in Hui Wa'a competition since 2003, and again have a good chance at states, where they placed second last year. Yesterday's crew included Kelsa Teeters, Erin Offenhauser, Dana Gorecki, Andrea Messer, Cherie Lee and Sue Brown.
"The Hui Wa'a championship means a lot to us," Gorecki said. "It's again a chance, going into states, to see where our crew is at. We don't take anything for granted, take anything as a given."
Other crews to finish the Hui Wa'a season undefeated included: Ka Mo'i's girls 12, Manu's women's 55, Ka Mo'i's women's 60, Kaneohe's women's 50, Alapa Hoe's girls 16, Alapa Hoe's girls 18 and North Shore's women's 40.
For Alapa Hoe, it was its first Hui Wa'a championship titles in the girls 16 and 18 races in the club's 14-year history.
"It still kinda hasn't sunken in yet," said Nalei Mendonca, who sat in the fourth seat for both crews, "but it does feel good, I must admit. We just believed in ourselves."