NA 'OHANA O NA HUI WA'A
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i muscled its way toward the finish line to a first-place finish in the men's sophomore division of the Hui Wa'a Championship Regatta at Keehi Lagoon yesterday.
Kaneohe still unchallenged in Hui Wa‘a
Pretty soon, the Kaneohe Canoe Club will have to start using two hands to keep track of its continuing championship run.
Kaneohe claimed its fifth consecutive Na 'Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a Championship yesterday at Keehi Lagoon with 75 points and 10 race wins. The club has now won the AAA (25+ crews entered) division in all eight regattas it has entered this season. Last week, Kaneohe did not enter the organization's Waikiki race -- which did not count toward season-point standings -- and chose instead to use the time to hold a gathering on the sand bars of Kaneohe Bay to promote team bonding.
The time off paid dividends, as the club streaked to victory in the first five races of the morning -- all of which involved paddlers ages 13 and under. Kaneohe banked on the strong performance turned in by its kids, and after 28 races, held an insurmountable 69-36 advantage over eventual runner-up Manu O Ke Kai (62 points) and Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i (55).
"I'm happy for the kids; they put us up big on the scoreboard early with five in a row," said Kaneohe head coach Clint Anderson. "Then with the adults picking up points through the day, so I'm really proud of the paddlers and how they stuck together to the end."
While he was pleased with his club's performance yesterday, Anderson knows that the true test will come in two weeks at the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association's state championships on Aug. 4 at Hanalei Bay, Kauai. Kaneohe qualified 19 crews for the state race, and Anderson insists there is still much work to be done.
"I think the next goal, we have two weeks to get ready for the state (championships), and it's not that easy," he said. "There are a lot of good paddlers out there. We've got to work even harder now to get ready for the states, and it's not over yet. We'll work the conditioning and technique, and fine-tune everything. We've got some kids who are fighting for their seat now, so it'll make things worthwhile where everybody has to work hard -- same with the adults. The club has been pulling together, and it's just a matter of working out all the aches and pains."
The Waikiki Beach Boys took the AA Division (13-24 crews) in its first year in the division, beating out Koa Kai (25) and Alapa Hoe (20). Waikiki had won the A division (12 or fewer crews) the previous four years running, and took advantage of seven race wins yesterday to solidify itself as the medium-sized club to beat.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i enters the turn during the men's sophomore event in the Hui Wa'a Championship Regatta at Keehi Lagoon yesterday.
The Beach Boys were buoyed by their stellar women's program, which claimed victories in the novice B, novice A, freshman, sophomore, senior and open 4 races. Not only did all the crews win championships, but the first five crews clinched undefeated seasons as well.
"I think that was our fastest time so far in the senior race," said steersman Sue Brown of her crew's 12 minute, 22.31 second mark in the 1.5-mile race. "It's pretty windy today, so we're happy to get our fastest time in the windy conditions. (The wind) helps you on the way down, and it's really nice to have it at your back, but you know you have to turn into it (coming back toward the finish line)."
Waikiki's success is no fluke. The club's intense, year-round training regimen has allowed members to stay in shape while younger paddlers transition into the program; the same way a professional sports organization moves athletes up through the minor leagues. With the state championships now two weeks away, the club will use the time to build its crews based on time trials, and determine which combinations of paddlers work the best.
"All our crews are picked by (time trials), so that takes some time to actually time everything," Brown said in preparation of her crew's state title defense in the senior race. "In the end, it makes everything fair and clear, and you have a lot of confidence knowing that you're running the fastest crew you can; it's not arbitrary."
The men's novice A crew from Waikiki also paddled to victory, and secured a perfect Hui Wa'a season as well. But, things got interesting as the winning boat almost flipped when its ama was nearly pushed over by the stiff wind.
"We came around the turn, and the ama popped," said a relieved Ka'eo Beter, the steersman for the victorious crew. "We can't take anybody lightly. We've just gotta stay focused and maintain what we're doing (heading into states)."
The other crews to finish the Hui Wa'a campaign undefeated were: Alapa Hoe's girls 18s; Kaneohe's mixed 12s and girls 15s; Koa Kai's senior mixed masters 50s; and Manu O Ke Kai's mixed platinum 60s.
The A Division ended up in a tie between Kalihi Kai and Ka Mamalahoe with 19 points apiece, followed by Hawaiian Outrigger (10) and North Shore (9). Ka Mamalahoe was awarded the first-place trophy after winning a coin toss at the race's closing ceremony.
The Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association holds its championships today, also at Keehi Lagoon. Racing is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m.