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Saturday, May 13, 2000

C A N O E _ P A D D L I N G

New course awaits
solo paddlers in
state championships

By Linda Aragon
Special to the Star-Bulletin


A familiar field of competitors head off on an unfamiliar course tomorrow in the Kanaka I Kai Ka Quiksilver State Championships for solo canoes and kayaks.

For the first time, one- and two-person canoes and kayaks in both the long- and short-course divisions will finish at Ewa Beach Park, said Kanaka I Kai Ka president Karen Kiefer.

The approximately 21-mile long course begins at Hawaii Kai at 10 a.m. The 11-mile short course begins shortly after at Magic Island.

Previous state championships have been a few miles longer on a course running from Kailua Beach Park to Waikiki. But increasing difficulty in securing permits for using Waikiki Beach have made race officials consider a new route.

"There were so many reasons to give the new course a try," Kiefer said.

Among the reasons is the opportunity to surf most of the way to Ewa Beach.

"Because it's so far off shore, you're always in the wind line,'' she said. "Our craft is designed well for wind swells.''

Some 150 paddlers are expected to race and many will be using this race to prepare for the Molokai Channel solo crossing at the end of this month.

"This race is good training for Molokai because it's all surfing," she said.

Paddlers are hopeful that the south swells will continue through the weekend because, according to Kiefer, spotting the entrance channel at Ewa Beach can be difficult when conditions are flat.

Some paddlers have voiced concerns ranging from the possibility of a grueling trek if the conditions are flat to the lack of recognizable landmarks along the course. But, after a season of several of the shorter distance races held off Kailua Beach and Waikiki, the change of venue is welcomed by some.

Short-course kayaker Christy Borton said she has never done the course, but is looking forward to it.

"I've heard from other people who have done it that they like it,'' she said.

"You get a push all the way. I just like it cause it's something different and to get a chance to kayak somewhere you wouldn't normally go. That makes it interesting."

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