Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, September 27, 1999

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Jenni Maclean (facing camera) celebrates with her teammates
from Wailua Kayak & Canoe club after the team's surprising
win in the Na Wahine O Ke Kai outrigger canoe race between
Molokai and Oahu yesterday.

Kauai crew
no ka oi

Wailua Kayak & Canoe is
a surprise winner in the Bankoh
Na Wahine O Ke Kai women's
outrigger canoe race

By Ben Henry
Special to the Star-Bulletin


Following yesterday's Bankoh Na Wahine O Ke Kai women's outrigger canoe race, no one was surprised a Hawaii crew claimed victory for the first time in seven years.

The only surprise was who actually did.

With the two-time defending champion Riggeroos out because of a pre-Olympic event in Australia, Hui Nalu and Waimanalo were heavily favored to cross the Kaiwi Channel first.

But Kauai's Wailua Kayak & Canoe stole the show, finishing the 41-mile, Molokai-to-Oahu race in 5 hours, 55 minutes and 21 seconds. Hui Nalu finished second, and Waimanalo third.

It was only the second time in the history of the event that Hawaii teams swept the top three spots.

"No one thought we would win -- including us," said Wailua's Mary Brewer, whose crew opted to take a northerly course in the race. "In a way, I think it helped being the underdog, because the pack followed the favorites. We were paddling by ourselves for the first half of the race. When we finally converged and crossed paths, we were ahead."

Waimanalo, who finished second last year, was surprised to be overtaken. "We were actually in a battle with Hui Nalu, and we just completely overlooked Wailua," said Waimanalo head coach Steve Scott. "They were just so far north of us, we didn't even see them."

Scott said Wailua's course worked well for them, a sentiment echoed by Brewer. "Our course played a major role in our victory today," she said. "We didn't follow the pack. We did our own thing, and it paid off for us."

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Wailua Kayak & Canoe passes the Diamond Head
lighthouse on its way to victory. The team took
a more northern route than its competitors.

Kelly Fey of Hui Nalu agreed. "They had an exceptional course, and they paddled very well," she said. "They're experienced and know what it takes to win."

Hui Nalu was happy to finish second but disappointed at not winning. "Second is tough - only because we were so close," said Hui Nalu's Julie Horner. "(Wailua) kind of came out of nowhere. But I'm so happy that the top three are Hawaii finishers. The title came back."

The last time Hawaii crews finished first, second and third was in the event's second race in 1981, when Outrigger, Hui Nalu and Kailua took top honors, respectively.

Also that year, OffShore finished fourth as the only non-Hawaii team, in its first year of competition in this event. It would go on to secure 10 titles, and still holds the race record of 5:24:32.

Yesterday, OffShore went back to its roots, once again finishing fourth. "This is (this crew's) first time paddling together, so all things considered, we're just thrilled," said OffShore's Vicki Mills. The last time OffShore won was in 1996.

It was also the first time Wailua's crew had ever paddled together. "We pretty much put this crew together just for this race," Brewer said. "It just goes to show that you just need a bunch of individual athletes with the same goal in mind and the talent to pull it off."

Panamuna was the first foreign crew to finish yesterday, at 11th place. The team from Australia is coached by Lisa Curry-Kenny, coach of the event's '97 and '98 winners, the Riggeroos.

The conditions were calm, with light winds and northerly currents. Brewer vividly describes the course: "It was pretty mellow at the beginning ... there wasn't too much to ride. There wasn't a lot of slop. And then we had some really nice bumps by Hawaii Kai -- we were just flying. I think that's where we gapped Hui Nalu. Once they hit the surf ... we were gone."

Notes: In addition to Brewer, Wailua is made up of Noelani Sawyer, Margie Kawaiaea, Theresa Felgato, Jenni Maclean, Nicole Wilcox, Corrine Gage, Patty Eames, Dawn Williams and Joanna Felloon ... False Creek Racing Canoe Club finished the entire race without substituting, becoming the first team to do so in this event. The team finished last with a time of 7:31:16 ... Steerswomen Kaui Pelekane of Hui Nalu and Denise Darval-Chang of Waimanalo both steered "iron," not substituting the entire way across ... Teams from Australia, California and five Hawaiian Islands competed in this year's field.


Bankoh Na Wahine
O Ke Kai

41-mile outrigger canoe race from Molokai to Oahu
Place, name, time

1. Wailua Kayak & Canoe No. 1, 5 hours, 55 minutes, 21 seconds; 2. Hui Nalu No. 1, 6:00:34; 3. Waimanalo, 6:01:55; 4. Offshore, 6:10:04; 5. Outrigger No. 3, 6:14:19; 6. Lokahi No. 1, 6:16:11; 7. Hui Nalu No. 2, 6:18:38; 8. Newport Aquatic Club, 6:18:59; 9. Kai Elua, 6:23:50; 10. Kai Opua, 6:25:30.

11. Outrigger Australia Panamuna, 6:27:36; 12. Ho'opili, 6:28:13; 13. Wailua Kayak & Canoe No. 2, 6:30:33; 14. Lanikai No. 2, 6:32:47; 15. Kaiola, 6:34:10; 16. Waikiki Beach Boys No. 1, 6:35:29; 17. Waikiki Yacht Club No. 1, 6:36:45; 18. Kailua No. 1, 6:38:01; 19. Lae 'Ula O Kai, 6:39:12; 20. Malama 'Ula, 6:40:09.

21. Hui Lanakila No. 1, 6:40:36; 22. Outrigger No. 1, 6:41:43; 23. Sacramento, 6:42:04; 24. Santa Barbara, 6:42:07; 25. Australia Queensland, 6:43:20; 26. Rocky Ourigger, 6:44:05; 27. Keaukaha, 6:49:26; 28. Waikiki Surf Club, 6:50:47; 29. North Shore No. 1, 6:50:48; 30. Lanikai No. 1, 6:52:35.

31. Anuenue No. 1, 6:53:59; 32. Hui Nalu No. 3, 6:54:52; 33. Waikoloa No. 1, 6:58:44; 34. Lokahi No. 2, 7:01:04; 35. Kihei, 7:01:37; 36. Hui Wa'a O San Jose, 7:01:54; 37. Lahaina, 7:05:31; 38. Hui O Mana Ka Pu'uwai, 7:05:36; 39. Kamehameha Hilo, 7:06:08; 40. Waikiki Yacht Club No. 2, 7:06:44.

41. Keahiakahoe, 7:08:01; 42. Napili, 7:09:33; 43. San Francisco Outrigger, 7:10:37; 44. Waikoloa No. 2, 7:11:04; 45. North Shore No. 2, 7:11:57; 46. Koa Kai No. 1, 7:12:25; 47. Outrigger No. 2, 7:12:56; 48. Hui Lanakila No. 2, 7:13:31; 49. Na Kai 'Ewalu, 7:14:49; 50. Waikiki Yacht Club No. 4, 7:15:48.

51. Anuenue No. 2, 7:16:33; 52. Kahana, 7:18:29; 53. Kailua No. 2, 7:18:49; 54. Waikiki Beach Boys No. 2, 7:20:14; 55. Waikiki Yacht Club No. 3, 7:20:24; 56. Kawaikini, 7:24:21; 57. Koa Kai No. 2, 7:29:00; 58. False Creek, 7:31:16.

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