Tresnak, Penny win Kaiwi relay
The duo covered the 40.2-mile race in 4 hours, 34 minutes and 39 seconds
There's not much one can say after traversing one of the world's most punishing stretches of open ocean, but a relieved Karel Tresnak Jr. summed it up best after he and partner Andrew Penny paddled to victory in the one-person (OC-1) open division yesterday afternoon in the 16th edition of the Starbucks Kaiwi Channel Relay:
"Not too fun."
For Tresnak, it was his second consecutive and fourth career victory in the event; it was Penny's first. The duo crossed the finish line in 4 hours, 34 minutes and 39 seconds -- ahead of Kai Bartlett and Kea Paiaina (4:35.17) and Manny Kulukulualani and Maui Kjeldsen (4:37.40).
In all, 124 teams composed of 286 paddlers made the 40.2-mile trek from Kaluakoi, Molokai, through the Kaiwi Channel, around Diamond Head and into the mouth of the Ala Wai Canal adjacent to Magic Island. Each OC-1 canoe was manned by a two-person team, while the two-person craft (OC-2) were navigated by teams of four paddlers. It was up to the various squads in the "tag-team" style race to switch off in the open ocean, while escort boats carried the paddlers whose turn it was to rest.
"The start was OK and the conditions off Molokai were kind of calm, so I wanted to kind of push to get into the surf," said Penny, who paddled both the starting and finishing legs of the race. "We covered our opposition, but there were some tough teams out there today."
"It just all worked out," said Tresnak of the team's strategy, which included switching off every 20 to 25 minutes. "We had a few good breaks and Andy got in and held his own. We had a good section about 2 1/2 hours in, managed to get a good gap and kept that the rest of the way."
It was that "good section" that allowed Tresnak to employ his wave-riding talent, and after catching about an hour's worth of favorable ocean swells, the team finally pulled away from the lead pack. By establishing the advantage, it gave the team enough breathing room to overcome the strong currents and sloppy waves that they encountered near Portlock after making the turn around Koko Head.
"It usually backs up off Portlock, but not like this," Tresnak said. "It was like 30 minutes of just pure (sloppiness). At least we didn't have to struggle with someone next to us, because it was pretty painful."
This was the second straight year in which Tresnak and Bartlett finished 1-2, but both were paired with different teammates last time -- Tresnak with Nate Hendricks and Bartlett with Patrick Dolan.
"They've done their homework, so you can't take that away from them," Bartlett said. "The guy (Tresnak) is a very good surfer, and it's hard to catch him when he's on. Once he gets ahead he's pretty comfortable, so that sealed it."
For Penny, the victory came at the perfect time because he could be scaling back his efforts in the ocean while preparing for a baby on the way in July.
"It's really something special for both of us, and it's nice to finish on top with Junior," Penny said. "And being friends, it makes it more special. We have that bond, and can still go out and cruise and go party."
Lauren Bartlett, Kai's wife, claimed her second consecutive win in the women's open OC-1 race along with partner Andrea Moller. They finished with a record-time of 5:20.33.
"We had a big lead, and we kind of took a course that we could surf, and we made some good changes," Moller said. "It was nice, but there was a little bit of chop and currents working against us. Before Diamond Head, (the swells) kind of organized and pushed us a little further. They (the officials) were calling for variable winds, so we were afraid that we'd have a flat race that went into the wind."