Star-Bulletin Sports


Ryan Leong of the Kailua Canoe Club went through the victory tunnel after his team won the men's novice A race in OHCRA competition yesterday at Waimanalo Beach Park. Outrigger won the last three races to beat Lanikai by two points.

Outrigger oulasts 2 rivals

The club captures the Waimanalo
regatta with a victory in the day's final race

By Cindy Luis

It harkened back to the days when the final event of the regatta -- the senior men's race -- was the most prestigious and, very often, decided the overall championship.

The order of events has been changed, putting the men's masters-35 at the end of the 36-race slate. But at yesterday's Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association regatta at Waimanalo Beach, the last race again was the blue-ribbon event and again decided the outcome.

The Outrigger Canoe Club won its first regatta of the season, thanks to the five points earned by the men's masters-35. Outrigger, winning four of the final five events, finished with 67 points to Lanikai's 65 and Kailua's 62 in the AA Division (18-plus crews).

In the A Division, the Waikiki Surf Club extended its winning streak to four with 23 points. Anuenue was second with 13.

Going into the final race, just two points separated the top three clubs. Lanikai, which had led most of the day, had 63, Outrigger 62 and Kailua 61.

Healani, stroked by Georgina Lillich, beat Lanikai by four seconds in the women's novice A race.

"We knew it was close," said Mark Rigg, the Outrigger stroke. "But we didn't know we would decide the regatta. Our crew actually hadn't practiced together for three weeks, but most of us have been paddling together forever. We've won Molokai together. We know each other real well."

With that familiarity comes trust, something that was very much needed coming out of the final turn at the 3/4-mile flag. Outrigger angled in first, caught a little bit of a backwash in the choppy conditions, and needed a hard une (the stroker acting as a front rudder) from Rigg to bring the canoe around.

"We thought we were going to hit Kailua, who had come into their turn as we were coming out," said Rigg. "Todd (steersman Todd Bradley) called for me to pull out the une and the canoe jumped. We probably missed Kailua by less than a foot."

Outrigger found another gear in the final 50 yards, pulling away to finish in 8 minutes, 5.92 seconds. Hui Lanakila was less than three seconds back at 8:08.82 with Lanikai third at 8:09.72.

"It's very competitive ... again," said Kailua coach Kalani Irvine. "There is so much parity. This is where everyone starts to play games, trying to qualify crews for the state race (Aug. 3) in Hilo. Sometimes the goal is not to win the regatta but to put together crews that will help you qualify for more races."

What hurt Lanikai yesterday were two disqualifications -- in the mixed 12 and men's novice B -- which cost the windward-side club four points.

Six crews remained undefeated after four regattas: Hui Nalu's boys 14 and sophomore women, Lanikai's boys 12, Waikiki Surf Club's girls 18 and Healani's women's novice A.

Several crews won for the third time, including Hui Nalu's freshmen women. It was their convincing seven-second victory during rough conditions that had those from other clubs applauding.

"We were out to prove today that Hui Nalu could win in all kinds of conditions and not just on flat water," said steersman Melissa Totherow. "We wanted to prove people wrong."

Hui Nalu swept the upper division women's races (freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior) to threaten to pull out its third regatta titles in four weeks. But Hui Nalu could only manage 12 points in the final 10 races -- all via second places -- to finish fourth with 56 points.

Perhaps overcoming the most obstacles for their third victory was Surf Club's women's masters-45, who won by 10 seconds. The race had been held up for 10 minutes, with crews on the water due to an equipment repair, followed by a rain storm during the first quarter mile.

Kaneohe victorious again: At Keehi Lagoon, Kaneohe won for the fourth time in five Hui Wa'a regattas, scoring 65 points to Lokahi's 59.

In the A division, Koa Kai scored 41 points to easily outdistance Kalihi Kai (21).

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