RHINO KAIWI CHANNEL RELAY
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Cherisse Agorastos crossed the finish line first in the women's division of the Rhino Kaiwi Channel Relay canoe race off Magic Island yesterday.
Agorastos, Bartlett fastest women across
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It's a race within a race.
The open women's OC-1 field is given a half-hour head start over that of the mixed OC-2 in the Rhino Kaiwi Channel Relay, a 40.2-mile paddling competition from Molokai to Oahu.
More often than not, the coed crew -- with two male-female pairs trading off time in the two-person canoe -- makes up that 30-minute difference and crosses the Magic Island finish line first.
Not so yesterday.
Cherisse Keli'i Agorastos turned in a very strong final leg that had her and teammate Lauren Spalding Bartlett not only winning the women's OC-1 division by more than 6 minutes, but also holding off a late charge by Bruce Ayau and Emili Janchevis, part of the mixed OC-2 winning crew.
"Their goal is to be the first to touch the beach," Agorastos said of the OC-2 competition. "The women's goal is to be the first and to stay ahead of the two-man field. We did that today."
Agorastos and Bartlett also shattered the course record for their division by 5 minutes.
Karel Tresnak Jr. and Alfred Van Gieson just missed doing the same in the men's OC-1 division. They were timed in 4 hours, 30 minutes and 27 seconds, a second off the record.
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Karel Tresnak, pictured, teamed with Alfred Van Gieson to win the Rhino Kaiwi Channel Relay.
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Compared to the previous Sunday's solo canoe race across the Kaiwi Channel, yesterday's 40.2-mile relay seemed more like a fun run than a marathon to many of the paddlers.
It's a tag-team format as opposed to a grueling solitary performance.
Apparently it's one and the same for Karel Tresnak Jr. and Lauren Spalding Bartlett. The two followed up their record-smashing outings of a week ago with impressive victories yesterday in the 18th Rhino Kaiwi Channel Relay World Championship.
Tresnak teamed with Alfred Van Gieson to win the OC-1 men's title in 4 hours, 30 minutes and 27 seconds. It was a second off the mark set by Kai Bartlett and Aaron Napoleon in the 2002 Molokai-to-Oahu event.
Bartlett's wife, Lauren, and Cherisse Keli'i Agorastos shattered the OC-1 women's record by more than 5 minutes by crossing the Magic Island finish line in 5:15:21. It was the third consecutive victory in this event for Lauren Bartlett, who teamed with Andrea Moller last year to set a record of 5:20:33.
"Lauren is such a phenomenal athlete," Agorastos said. "For me, it was just a great experience to paddle with her. She is such a humble person.
"All day today she kept saying, 'You're the best, Cherisse.' I'm like, 'You're kidding me, I know better.' She's awesome."
Agorastos waited more than 6 minutes before slapping paddles with Moller, who paddled the final leg for the women's OC-1 runner-up. Moller and Dane Ward finished in 5:21:49.
The men's OC-1 race was much closer, with just 32 seconds separating Tresnak/Van Gieson and Kai Bartlett/ Napoleon. After winning this event in 2005, Bartlett has finished second the past two years.
"It's been super close every year," said Bartlett, who also finished second to Tresnak last week. "Today was a lot of work to get some of the rides. Coming into Waikiki was pretty fun. It was a pretty good day for the channel. Anytime you get bumps out there is a good day."
Enjoying the conditions was Bruce Ayau, part of the winning OC-2 mixed crew that finished in 4:46:27. He and Emili Janchevis paddled the final leg with Felipe Gomes and Barbara Querry arriving in the escort boat.
"It was excellent today, not too windy, enough to push us the whole way," Ayau said. "Our partners (Gomes and Querry) were unbelievable. They gave us huge leads and we just attacked all day."
It was the first time in an OC-2 for Janchevis and "it was very good," she said.
Van Gieson agreed.
"I'm stoked and happy to come away with a 'W' ... my first here," he said. "It's fun doing the relay and I have to thank (Tresnak) for giving me the opportunity to race with the best."
Race organizer Walter Guild was pleased with the growing numbers of competitors.
One hundred and six OC-1 and 15 OC-2 crews finished yesterday, representing five states and seven countries.
"It has a great reputation," said Guild, who teamed with Chris Kincaid to finish 15th in 4:54:03. "It was pretty amazing when I asked before the race for the first-timers to raise their hands. Pretty much it was half the group.
"It's a challenging race, but it's fun."
After two channel crossings in eight days, Tresnak said he's done until regatta season starts next month.
"Today was pretty much a blur," he said.
Other division winners were: Mike and Gail Mills-Thom, Australia, OC-1 mixed, 5:22:44; Nate Hendricks, Mike Field, Seth Koppes and Nue Youderian, Hawaii, OC-2 men; and Kelly Cua, Jenn Konohia, Linda Jolie Goez and Mary Kielty, Hawaii, 5:47:04.