Star-Bulletin Sports


Rocheleau and Kjeldsen
among paddling champs

Twigg-Smith and Spaulding also
earn victories in the Kanaka I
Kai Ka State Championships

By Cindy Luis

The reactions ran from "lots of fun" to "glad to be done" after nearly 150 paddlers completed their respective courses at yesterday's Kanaka I Kai Ka State Championships for surfskis, and single and double outrigger canoes.

The motivations to cross the finish line off Sand Island were also as varied as the conditions between Hawaii Kai and Honolulu.

For Brian Rocheleau, it was proving that winning the surfski title at last week's Oahu Championship was no fluke. For Maui Kjeldsen, it was showing he could master a surf race as well as he has a flatter OC-1 course.

"It was harder than last week," said Rocheleau, who held off Mark Sandvold and David Buck to win for the fourth consecutive Sunday. "Everyone was real close until Diamond Head buoy and then it was a sprint to the finish.

"We had good waves all the way, not sloppy like last week. The nerve-wracking part was trying to figure out where the finish line was. I hadn't done any training runs down here and I was glad to finally see the channel."

Rocheleau finished the 23-mile long course from Makai Pier to Sand Island in 2 hours, 24 minutes and 27 seconds. Mark Sandvold was 62 seconds behind, while David Buck, who finished second to Rocheleau in the Oahu Championships, was two seconds behind Buck for third place.

The women's surfski race was even closer with just 21 seconds separating winner Maggie Twigg-Smith (2:45:39) and runner-up Mary Smolenski.

Several paddlers who did well in the Oahu Championships skipped yesterday's race, which was five miles longer. Among them were both the men's and women's OC-1 winners, Kai Bartlett and Kelly Fey.

The top paddlers in the very competitive men's division took advantage of Bartlett's absence and good surfing conditions in another tight race. Coming around Koko Head, the pack included Kjeldsen, Oahu runner-up Mike Judd, John Foti and Aaron Napoleon.

Kjeldsen was in the lead and "I thought it was going well," he said. "Then someone on the support boat yelled, 'You're competition is on the outside.' Aaron had swung around past me by about 200 yards. The rest of us went out and caught back up to him."

After the Diamond Head buoy, it became a two-man race between Judd and Kjeldsen. It came down to Kjeldsen wanting to prove something.

"When you're in front, you just want to finish first," he said. "I'm sure we were both going through a lot of pain. He was coming up on me at the end and I had to push harder.

"I had won a couple of races this season and they were both dead flat (conditions). I wanted to win a surfing race."

Kjeldsen, who moved from New Zealand a year ago, finished in 2:29:01. Judd was 25 seconds behind, with Foti third in 2:31:16.

In the women's division, Lauren Spaulding won by nearly seven minutes, finishing in 2:56:44. Noelani Sawyer was second in 3:03:40, followed by Ann Farrell in third at 3:05:09.

The short-course race was 15 miles, running from Maunalua Bay to Sand Island. The OC-1 titles went to Kealii Martin in the men's division and Donna Meyer in the women's. Doug Borton won the surfski open title. There were no female entrants in the open division.

Winning OC-2 titles were Pat Von-Greg Edwards (men's long course), Kisi Haine-Ann Marie Mizuno (women's short course), Andrew Glatzel-Rob Hamson (men's short course) and James Roumasset-Jane Kirton (mixed short course).

Brian Carter and Beth Sharpe of Kauai won the OC-2 mixed long-course race using a canoe borrowed from the third-place women's team of Linda Kaiser and Wendy Minor.

"Everyone in this sport is more than winning to lend an extra hand," said Carter. "It worked out fine. As I told the women, they may have come in third, but their boat came in first."

Kaiser and Minor took up the sport this season.

"It's nice to be out on the water with somebody," said Minor. "You might as well be in the same boat."

"Being novices, we needed all the help we could get," said Kaiser. "I'd definitely recommend the sport."

The next event is the Starbucks Kaiwi Channel Relay on May 5. The Outrigger-Eyecatcher Molokai World Championship is May 19.

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