CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Hawaiian Canoe Club's men's senior crew made a push for the finish line and took second to Tui Tonga yesterday.
Hawaiian wins state championship
The Kahului-based club takes five races on its way to a sixth straight paddling championship
Hawaiian Canoe Club of Maui now needs two hands.
Two hands to count the number of state paddling championships it has won, and two hands to hold the trophies.
The Kahului Harbor-based powerhouse picked up its sixth straight victory at the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association State Championship Regatta yesterday at Keehi Lagoon.
Hawaiian was challenged early on in the 37-race regatta, but pulled away late to convincingly take the AAA division (18 crews or more) for a sixth consecutive time with 315 total points and a regatta-high five individual race wins.
"Of all of (the state championships), this has probably been our best," said Hawaiian head coach Diane Ho, who had a regatta-high 33 crews entered. "It doesn't get easier. It's easier to get to the top than stay there.
"When you're successful, you have a whole, brand-new set of problems. We've been very fortunate, because of a consistent coaching staff and consistent club values."
More than 3,000 paddlers representing 62 clubs from across the state participated in the regatta.
After missing states last year because of a rule violation involving the composition of their koa canoes, Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association champion Lanikai finished in second place in AAA with 269 points and four race wins.
Rounding out the division were three other OHCRA clubs: Kailua (247 points), Hui Nalu (244) and Outrigger (200).
Hawaiian's dominant kids program was the biggest driving force behind the club winning its first five state crowns, and its youth delivered again with a regatta-high three wins among the 13 kids races during the first half of the day.
But Lanikai was able to stay nearly even with Hawaiian through that point, with two youth wins and only a 1-point (136 to 135) disadvantage after the last of the 13 concluded.
"We gave them a scare for a little while," Lanikai head coach Kalani Irvine said. "We paddled very well today as a club. We were competitive, and that's all you can ask for."
Hawaiian began to pull away through the open adult races in the beginning of the second half, and was particularly successful in the four men's events -- winning the freshman and sophomore, and finishing as the runner-up by less than a second in both the junior and senior races.
Hawaiian's men are a new source of strength for the club, thanks largely to five paddlers from Wailea -- last year's senior men's champ -- transferring over after their crew was disbanded.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Waikiki Beach Boys' women's senior crew paddled toward a win yesterday at the 2006 HCRA State Championships.
After the senior men's competition and 26 races overall, Hawaiian had a 232-200 lead over Lanikai.
Hawaiian only continued to build its advantage through the masters adult races during the last third of the regatta.
"We set our goals high, and they performed to the best of their ability," Hawaiian men's coach Rick Nuu said.
Big Island champion Puna won the AA division (nine to 17 crews) with 162 points.
Last year's division champion -- Kai Opua, also from the Big Island -- finished second with 149. Oahu clubs Hui Lanakila (147) and Kaneohe (143) rounded out the top four spots.
The Big Island's Keauhou won the A title (eight crews or less) for a second straight year, besting 42 other clubs in the division with 96 points. Keahiakahoe (86) of Oahu, Keaukaha (78) of the Big Island and Waikiki Surf Club (76) completed the top four places.
The Waikiki Beach Boys of the Na Ohana O Na Hui Waa -- Oahu's other association besides OHCRA -- finished in seventh place in AA with 96 points. But the club won an amazing four state titles among the only 11 races it entered, including one in the prestigious 1 1/2-mile senior women's race.
The Beach Boys have not lost this race in Hui Waa competition since 2003, but had done no better than second in states until yesterday. The club became the first from its association to take the senior women's race at states.
The Beach Boys broke through by coming from behind over the last half-mile to beat last year's race winner, Hui Lanakila, 12 minutes and 40.25 seconds to 12:44.88. The crew was Kelsa Teeters, Erin Offenhauser, Dana Gorecki, Amy Elmore, Andrea Messer and Sue Brown.
"The whole entire beach started cheering, and it was like, 'Hey, ladies -- that's for us, let's do it,'" Gorecki said. "This is so huge -- for Beach Boys and Hui Waa."
Though they had raced only one previous time on the Big Island because they were a new club this year with conditional status, Tui Tonga's senior men won their 1 1/2-mile race by a nose over Hawaiian, 11:04.55 to 11:05.09.
The crew of Nathan Hendricks, Andrew Penny, Kafoa Halalatu, Lyle Palakiko, Nicholas Agorastos and Bruce Ayau are accomplished paddlers that came together from other clubs.
They're hoping to use the win in the premier race at the regatta to continue to build their club for next year.
"This was a big win," Ayau said. "It was kind of shocking to us. We knew we could stay with them, but we were just hoping the execution went well. ... The last half-mile, we just had enough kick to edge (Hawaiian) out."