Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, June 4, 2001


Kevin Lau of the Healani Canoe Club passed through
"the tunnel" after the crew finished fifth in the Oahu
Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association 1 12-mile senior
men's race at Keehi Lagoon yesterday.

OHCRA opens
with big upset

By C.R. Dudley
Special to the Star-Bulletin

With nearly half of the races completed, Lanikai Canoe Club seemed poised for the easy win at yesterday's first Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association regatta of the season at Keehi Lagoon.

But an upset foreshadowed the outcome of the regatta. Lanikai's senior men's crew lost for the first time in nearly two seasons and the Windward-side club came up short, finishing third overall.

Kailua, winning three of the final nine races and finishing second in three others, rallied to finish first with 71 points. Outrigger was second with 67 and Lanikai third with 65.

In the A division for crews of 15 or fewer, Keahiakahoe finished with 17 points. Waikiki Surf was second with 13 and Anuenue third with 10.

Scoring in 14 of the first 16 races, Lanikai had amassed 40 points, almost twice that of eventual winner Kailua and 10 points ahead of Outrigger.

"Our kids did spectacularly," said Lanikai first-year head coach John Foti. "They carried the day. They did better than expected and our upper division crews did worse than expected."

Foti steered the senior men's crew, which finished two seconds behind Hui Lanakila.

"We were just trying to get across the line as fast as we could. It was close," he said. "We put on a valiant push at the end but it was a little too late."

Over 2,000 paddlers competed yesterday and several hundred spectators braved the stiff breeze and blazing sun to watch the action.

Kailua Canoe Club head coach Donovan Leandro said the boys and girls from Lanikai made a difference.

"We had a decline in kids' teams," he said. "We're in the same town as Lanikai, and they got the kids."

Having won the state championship last year, Lanikai attracted a number of new paddlers. Leandro said that that's just how paddling is.

Kailua, well behind Lanikai in overall points entering the later races, charged to the front with wins in the 18 boys, junior women, men's 55, men's open four and adult mixed races.

Lanikai stumbled after their kids gave up the canoe to the adults, winning only two events and scoring in few others.

Leandro said that he expects his club to get better as the season goes on. The same sentiment was echoed by Foti.

"We made a lot of mistakes today," said Foti, who steered the men's 35 crew to victory in the last event of the day. "It was the first race of the season and everybody is just getting it shaked out. I think we'll be a lot better in the future races. I know we will be. We probably had our worst performance in 10 years."

OHCRA race officials expect a crowd of close to 10,000 next Sunday as Kailua Canoe Club hosts its annual Kamehameha Day regatta in Kailua Bay. OHCRA are seeing a revitalized interest in Hawaiian canoe paddling on Oahu.

"We gained 400 registered paddlers this year and it's early," OHCRA official Hannie Anderson said. "People are starting to realize that this is a great sport for everybody -- the kids, mom and dad and grandpa and auntie."

Lokahi wins at Waimanalo: Lokahi Canoe Club won nine races to finish first at the Hui Wa'a Regatta at Waimanalo Beach.

Lokahi scored 80 points to host Kaneohe's 67. In the A Division, Ka Mo'i finished with 34 points to Imua's 25.

Hui Wa'a's next regatta is Sunday at Keehi Lagoon, hosted by Lokahi. Racing starts at 8:30 a.m.

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