Tresnak takes off for another world title
Magnificent seven and a record to boot.
Karel Tresnak Jr. captured a record seventh solo canoe paddling title in the inaugural Steinlager Kaiwi Channel OC-1 World Championship yesterday.
Tresnak, of Kailua, turned the 32-mile course from Kaluakoi, Molokai, to Koko Marina in 3 hours, 38 minutes and 3 seconds, breaking his own course record (3:42:24) by more than 4 minutes.
"Couldn't ask for anything more," Tresnak said following the race. "(I was) really surprised that we were even close to the record, and to break it ... awesome."
For the first time, 90 solo canoe (OC-1) paddlers -- representing the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and the Cook Islands -- competed in their own world championship event. Until this year, the OC-1 paddlers and their ama-less surfski cousins raced together in the Epic World Championships, which take place on May 18.
Tough competition and variable conditions made Tresnak work hard for his win.
"I think everybody upped it today," the 27-year-old Tresnak said. "Guys were going as fast as hell."
Kauai's Kai Bartlett, the defending OC-1 champion, finished second in 3:45:50. Danny Ching, of Redondo Beach, Calif., was third (3:48:42).
Ching raced out to an early lead before Tresnak and three-time winner Bartlett chased him down.
"I had a new game plan," Ching, 24, said. "I know I can't surf like (Karel and Kai). The plan was to go off the start and just to get over the horizon before they come."
Ching's early charge held until Tresnak and Bartlett caught and passed him about an hour and 45 minutes into the race.
"I really started going pretty much as hard as I could just to catch him," said Tresnak.
"Junior (Tresnak) and Kai were on a mission today," said Ching. "Those guys came by me, and just made me look silly."
Bartlett, 32, stuck with Tresnak for a while.
"I had kinda a nice run, and then the wheels fell off," he said. "(Karel) took off at one point and that was it."
Tresnak capitalized after catching a series of swells and slogging his way through much of the Kaiwi Channel.
"I had a section from about the second hour to the third where I was surfing the whole way," said Tresnak. "That's where I put the gap on."
Lauren Bartlett defended her 2007 title and captured her fifth solo women's championship in a time of 4:20:47, more than 18 minutes faster than Emili Janchevis, who finished in second place (4:38:57). Alana Goo was third at 4:42.
"You never know if you're gonna win another (championship), so it always feels good (to win)," said Bartlett, who is married to Kai.
"Just having the wind out there and the swell with us was a total treat. There were some really great sections. It'd back off a little bit, but then it would pick right back up."
Bartlett also sang praises for the support crew on her escort boat, which got her in a paddling groove with some old-school boom-box accompaniment.
"(The boat) had some OutKast and some Hawaiian music," she said. "It was a little mix of everything."
Bartlett had just paddled a 25-mile Maui-to-Molokai relay race on Saturday.
"Just a little warm-up," she said, smiling.
Tresnak and Bartlett each won $5,000 for their solo wins, and the rest of the top five male and female finishers also took home prize money. The event's purse totaled $19,500.
Many of the paddlers will compete in the Rhino Kaiwi Channel Relay World Championships on Sunday.