Look’s memory leads Lanikai
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At yesterday's Henry Ayau Memorial Race, Lanikai Canoe Club paid its respects to another fallen veteran of the sea.
Lanikai was dominant in the 32-mile race from Maunalua Bay to Nakakuli Beach Park with a winning time of 4 hours, 11 minutes, 45.66 seconds in the final men's distance season tune-up to the Molokai Hoe world championship next month.
In a nod toward the recent death of paddling veteran Leighton Look, Lanikai broke from the fiberglass canoe norm of the race.
"I think everyone wanted to donate the race to the Look family, and that was our way of (dedicating) it," Kai Bartlett said. "So we had good spirit behind it."
Look was paralyzed from the neck down from a diving accident in 2004 and died last month. He was 52. His services were on Saturday.
Hui Lanakila, which Look was an original member of since the club's start in 1977, recently named a new canoe, the Lehuuila No Ka Lawai'a, (meaning "a flash of lightning for the fisherman" in Hawaiian) after him. The club took second place in that canoe in 4:17:11.27, and Kailua Canoe Club placed third in 4:21:50.35.
MIKE BURLEY / MBURLEY@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hui Lanakila finished a distant second to Lanikai in the Henry Ayau Memorial yesterday.
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The rest of the distance paddling circuit on Oahu already knew how dangerous Lanikai Canoe Club could be given the proper swells and bumps on any given day.
Yesterday, they found out the club from the Windward side is a threat to dominate without such niceties.
"Those guys are really hammering out things hard. They were really impressive today. Going in the koa today, awesome job. Hats off to them."
Alfred Van Gieson
Leeward Kai Paddler, on Lanikai Canoe Club
Lanikai ground out a victory margin of more than 5 minutes in flat conditions throughout the 32-mile Henry Ayau Memorial Race from Maunalua Bay to Nanakuli Beach Park with a time of 4 hours, 11 minutes and 45.66 seconds.
It was an important final booster shot for the club with aspirations to take back the Molokai Hoe world championship next month from Tahitian club Shell Vaa, the two-time defending champs.
Dave Daniels, Kai Bartlett, Karel Tresnak, Mike Judd, Pat Dolan and two pairs of brothers - Kekoa and Ka'ai Bruhn and John and Jim Foti - made up Lanikai's nine-man rotation on the six-man boat. The degree of difficulty was raised a notch, as the crew was one of a handful to race its koa canoe.
What remains is a solid month of training until the Oct. 12 race date.
"Everybody pushed hard and, you know, it was a good tuneup," said Jim Foti, who took turns steering with his brother and Tresnak. "You know, you take what Mother Nature gives you, right? (Flat water) was expected from the weather forecasts, but we pushed it all we could over tiny bumps."
He estimated the largest swells at 6 inches for most of the race.
Runner-up Hui Lanakila (4:17:11.27) stuck with them for the first 2 hours, but gradually succumbed without assistance from waves to harness. Kailua Canoe Club was third in 4:21:50.35.
"We were in a pretty good battle with them," said Alfred Van Gieson, a 27-year-old Leeward Kai member who paddles with Hui Lanakila during the distance season. "We'd make up ground, lose ground here and there. Back and forth. I think about halfway through, their conditioning paid off big and they started to walk away a little bit, little bit more, little bit more.
"Those guys are really hammering out things hard," he added. "They were really impressive today. Going in the koa today, awesome job. Hats off to them."
Bartlett paid little mind to the conditions and didn't see it as a positive or negative that the conditions were unlike those the crew will likely face across the Kaiwi Channel next month.
"The only thing we're hoping for is to win Molokai," he said. "Anything up to that point it doesn't really matter because it's training, that's all it is, really."
With superb performances throughout the distance season, Lanikai is one of the top contenders in the state to stop Shell Vaa's attempt at a three-peat.
And there was a general sense among the Lanikai crewmen that they hadn't yet peaked.
"We feel good in the surf, we felt pretty good today in the flat," Bartlett said. "We still got a month of work to do."