Star-Bulletin Sports


Theresa Gerry and Nalyne Harada of Lokahi's senior women crew celebrated after the 1 1/2-mile race at Keehi Lagoon.

Lokahi hottest heading
into championships

The canoe club rallies for its
second consecutive victory

By Grace Wen

Clean and smooth.

Coaches in the Na Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a racing association couldn't have asked for a better day for paddling.

With the music of IZ (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole) blaring in the background at Keehi Lagoon, the Lokahi Canoe Club stayed calm and rallied to win for the second consecutive week.

Lokahi trailed Kaneohe 50-49 through 29 races, but won two more (women's golden 55 and men's masters 35) and placed in three others to edge Kaneohe 65-59.

Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i (51) and Manu O Ke Kai (36) finished third and fourth, respectively.

The regatta was decided in the water and not by penalties for late paperwork. Disqualifications were minimal, with none having an impact on the final score.

"No mistakes. I guess our whole club had no mistakes," Lokahi coach Robert Viernes said.

"We just came out. We're feeling very confident. We did pretty good in the senior men. We got third. We don't practice senior men together and we found a good combination.

"We did pretty good today. (Kaneohe) made their points. And then we started to make our points. Other than that, there wasn't much difference. We just paddled better. We cut the mistakes today. It's so close between us two. We just got lucky."

Na Keiki O Ka Moi, including Eric Soo and Jason Bellefuielle, won the senior men's 1 1/2-mile race yesterday.

Lokahi's win was aided by Kaneohe's less-than-dominating performance in the youth races. In four previous wins, the youth gave the club enough of a lead to withstand the challenge of Lokahi's adults, but not yesterday.

"We weren't doing too good with our kids. Some of our kids didn't do how they normally do," Kaneohe coach Clint Anderson said. "Today was a bummer. I felt it from the beginning. Other clubs are doing awesome.

"(Lokahi's) senior women were very good, very tough. They got guaranteed points from them."

Despite the loss, Kaneohe is still optimistic for the upcoming Hui Wa'a championship.

"The competition was unreal today," Anderson said.

"Of course you like first (place), but this is good for us. Now we know what we got to work for. We know what we did wrong. We have to correct it in practice. We're going to try our best in the Oahu championships."

In the A division for smaller clubs, Koa Kai coach Joe Kim couldn't suppress the grin on his face as his club finished with a 7-0 record for the season.

Koa Kai hosted yesterday's regatta and needed points from some of the final races to put away Windward Kai.

The senior men of the Koa Kai Canoe Club -- David Randall, Jayson Corrales, Jon Shubert, Ben Ancheta, Brian Arzadon and Andrew Gomes -- chased Na Keiki O Ka Moi in the 1 1/2-mile race.

Kim said that his club was distracted with running the event, but Koa Kai managed to keep its record unblemished, scoring 32 points to defeat Windward Kai by four.

Kim attributes the success this season to having the same solid skill level among the paddlers.

"We have more quality, better paddlers," Kim said. "We have a lot of experience, a lot of good B's to pick from, a lot of good novices. This year I'm not coaching any crews ... so it's really easy."

Kim said this season was one of the least stressful for him. He pointed to his salt-and-pepper goatee as an indication, saying that he had gotten fewer gray hairs from this season compared to previous ones.

Hui Wa'a returns to Keehi Lagoon on July 20 for the season championship. The Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association championship follows the day after.

Next Sunday's regatta at Waikiki Beach was canceled. Hui Wa'a recorder Suzanne King said that permits to hold the regatta at Waikiki were not granted.

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