OAHU HAWAIIAN CANOE RACING ASSOCIATION CHAMPIONSHIPS
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Pat and Ryan Dolan, Ka'ai and Kekoa Bruhn and John and Jim Foti won the senior men for Lanikai.
Lanikai wins third straight title
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A third straight Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association title is great and all, but Lanikai Canoe Club has its sights set elsewhere.
The two-time defending association champion posted 82 points in the OHCRA Championships at Keehi Lagoon, holding off Outrigger (73) and Kailua (53) for the AAA (largest-size) division and overall 2008 season mantle. That despite winning only four of 39 races and being disqualified in two other would-be victories late in the day.
When asked if he were happy about defending his club's crown, first-year coach Tom Conner paused for the briefest of moments.
"No, I'd be happy if we win the (Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association) state championship," Conner said. "I just consider this one hurdle on the road to where we want to be. The goal from the very beginning, the first regatta, was to try to win the (Aug. 2) state championship. We still have a lot of work to do because we just won a small part of it. We won the half-Oahu sweepstakes today."
Hui Lanakila captured the AA (middle-size) championship with 37 points - more than twice the score of any other AA club - and Honolulu Pearl Canoe Club garnered eight points to win the A (small-size) title.
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CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Paddlers in the OHCRA Championships contended with the rain at Keehi Lagoon yesterday.
One loss this season was plenty for yesterday's championship-winning crews in the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association's men and women senior events.
Lanikai Canoe Club rode some brotherly love to the men senior title in the OHCRA Championships at Keehi Lagoon, while the Hui Lanakila women senior team kept up its blistering pace set from the second week of the season.
It was a family coming-together party for Lanikai's men senior crew, which featured a unique combination of three pairs of brothers spanning three decades - the youthful Dolans, Patrick and Ryan; the middle-aged Bruhns, Koa and Ka'ai; and the "elder" Fotis, John and Jim.
Lanikai open men coach Pat Erwin figured it was the best time to spring the lineup, which some observers on the beach referred to as an "all-star team." Lanikai only lost the men senior event at the Macfarlane Regatta in Waikiki this year, and all six of yesterday's crew members are in the running to make Lanikai's Molokai Hoe long distance team - their ultimate goal.
"I wanted to do it some time during the season - it just happened to fall on this race," Erwin said. "This was something that was coming - everybody kind of knew there were three sets of brothers in the program. I knew they'd be fast."
Rainy and windy conditions throughout the first half of the day made things more difficult, but the inclement weather abruptly halted right before both senior races, leaving absolutely still water and air.
The calm waters helped both crews obliterate the previous best times of the year across the state listed by the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association - Hui Lanakila's time of 11 minutes, 57.02 seconds blew away the best mark of Waikiki Beach Boys at 12:23.29. And the Lanikai men trumped their previous best of 10:49.66 with a blistering 10:28.12.
"My brother (Ka'ai) was telling me this morning, 'Hey, I had a dream last night, that when we go out for this race it's going to be raining, and right when we go out, the sun's going to shine on us and we're going to pound,' " said Koa Bruhn, who paddled the 4 seat. "So when the sun pops out I'm like, 'Uh-oh. Is this an omen? What's going on? Did we win the race in your dream or what?' "
It turned out to be one of four races won by Lanikai.
For the Hui Lanakila women, it's been a story of steady improvement since they lost the event in the season-opening Clement D. Pai'aina Regatta. All season they've compared times with the Waikiki Beach Boys senior women - the two-time state defending champions in that event who have dominated the Hui Wa'a circuit.
Getting the best time in the state this season just two weeks removed from the Aug. 2 HCRA state championships - favorable conditions or not - is exactly what Hui Lanakila coach Raven Aipa was looking for.
"It was awesome - it was one of those perfect times to be racing," he said. "Basically we're trying to improve our time every week, just clean up our stroke for states. Just recently we've been getting to the flat water stuff and doing more technique work. It's paying off for us, I think."
Most of its women senior crew of Jessica Eames, Arlene Holzman, Whitney Martinez, Mikala Bradley, Michelle Arnold and Sarah Vandevanter transitioned into the season straight from doing one-man canoe races, something that helped the crew be in top shape from Day 1 in June.
"We've been doing a lot of times on the Ala Wai, quarter-mile, half-mile," Holzman said. "We were looking to bring our time down from last week. We were successful, and we're just really stoked and bonded right now."
The Lanikai men senior crew was caught somewhat off-guard by Erwin's move to get all the brothers in simultaneously. All had raced and won in the event - just never all at the same time.
"We talked about it, the Bruhns have always talked about doing it," said Patrick Dolan, 20, the stroker. "Coach kind of surprised us with that combo before the race, on Wednesday night."
Five-seat John Foti, 45, seemed to realize it might not happen again; the Dolans leave for Oklahoma before the HCRA states to start on the road for kayaking qualifying for the 2012 Olympics.
"We had some good mana going, and it was just good fun," Foti said. "All of our guys have been training real hard, so it kind of showed in our performance today. We just decided we'd go out and have as much fun as we could have. That's usually the best way to win."