ALAPA HOE REGATTA
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kelsa Teeter and Jen Polcer helped the Waikiki Beach Boys senior women win their event at Keehi Lagoon yesterday.
Kaneohe turns away Waikiki Beach Boys
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Kaneohe wasn't going to let this one slip away.
After a stunning overall victory by the AA (middle-size) Waikiki Beach Boys last week at the Windward Kai Regatta, Kaneohe reclaimed its place as the top club in Hui Wa'a with 68 points in the Alapa Hoe Regatta, five above runner-up Manu O Ke Kai yesterday at Keehi Lagoon.
The two clubs were tied at 63 entering the final event of the day, the mixed men and women. But AAA-class Kaneohe's time of 4 minutes, 16.85 seconds was more than 20 seconds faster than the 4:38.47 posted by Manu O Ke Kai, and the five-time defending Hui Wa'a champions claimed their fourth regatta in five attempts this season.
Kaneohe coach Clint Anderson thought the difference last week came when open steersmen were allowed at Kailua Beach because of rougher weather conditions, a decision which potentially favored other clubs since steersmen could be used in multiple events regardless of age or gender.
"Beach Boys was awesome that day. It was a good comeback today," Anderson said. "In the final event last week we buried the flag (at the turn for a penalty), we made our error, but today was a better day. Focused, no mistakes."
The Beach Boys won the AA division with 53 points over runner-up Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i (34 points), while Ka Mamalahoe claimed the A class with 22 points over Kumulokahi-Elks (14).
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CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Kalihi-Kai women open four crew has won five races in a row, including yesterday at Hui Wa'a's Alapa Hoe Regatta at Keehi Lagoon. Crew members are Violet Carrillo, Bernie Suafoa-Tyrell, Jo-Jo White and Ama Keama.
They don't exactly have a coach, and nobody can afford to get sick or miss a day, because they're running a little light on experienced substitutes.
That's all part of the fun for the women open four team of Kalihi-Kai.
Violet Carrillo, Ama Keama, Bernie Tyrell and Jo-Jo White paddled their way to their club's fifth victory in as many races at yesterday's Alapa Hoe Regatta at Keehi Lagoon.
"It's harder, more demanding with your practices. More commitment because you only have four. And we have no alternates. ... Nobody can miss a day."
Jo-Jo White / Kalihi-Kai stroker
Kalihi-Kai coach Walter Fox knows well the independent effectiveness of the foursome, and has adopted a strategy of patting them on the back beforehand and sidestepping completely out of the way when it's time to race.
"I let them do pretty much their own thing," Fox said. "If it works for them, it works for me. I can concentrate on the other crews."
After a successful season last year, Kalihi-Kai has been in more of a rebuilding mode, especially on the men's side. And besides the women open four crew, the club just put together a women novice A team two weeks ago as its only women's teams. Fox estimates total membership at about two dozen.
The five points they earned from the women open four race made up more than half of their club total of eight in the A (smallest-size) division yesterday. Ka Mamalahoe won the division with 22 points, while Kaneohe squeaked by for a five-point overall win in the AAA-class, and the Waikiki Beach Boys claimed a comfortable AA win with 53 points.
It's familiar territory right now for the crew; last year they went unbeaten until the Hui Wa'a championship, when they lost to the Beach Boys.
That loss left them hungry and determined.
"Everything from what we did last year, we try to pick up where we left off," said Carrillo, a two-position paddler who doubles as a sort of coach out on the water. "We're always trying to fine-tune things, even up to now in the middle of our season. We're all athletes, and I know we have a lot of potential. We try to train hard, push them as hard as we can - even harder than they probably know they can. But, especially the fours, it's all a mental game. Just trying to fight it all."
That part - the increased pressure and physical workload on each to perform because of a smaller crew size - especially appeals to them.
Keama, the steersperson, nodded nearby. She explained the club's creation of a women's four team last year - made up of paddlers previously used to six-person crews - wasn't a problem because of their collective drive.
"(For me steering), it transitioned pretty smoothly, especially with 'Rillo pushing us hard, yeah?" Keama said. "She said it all."
Kalihi-Kai currently owns the second-fastest time in the event statewide this season, at 4 minutes, 32.02 seconds, behind only Puna Canoe Club. Its mark of 4:47.52 yesterday was good for a 10-second victory over the Beach Boys.
The success stemmed from getting the most out of the practice sessions on the crew's own time.
"It's harder, more demanding with your practices," said White, the stroker. "More commitment, because you only have four. And we have no alternates. So we need to dedicate ourselves to our club and to our crew. Nobody can miss a day, or we scratch a race."
The only newcomer to the crew this year, Tyrell, regularly commutes to the team's training area in Kalihi from Hauula on the North Shore.
Who cares about soaring gas prices? A streak is on the line.
"It's worth it, it's totally worth it," Tyrell said. "These guys, they make me want to train harder. It's like why you go to church every Sunday, it's a release."