Jim Foti, left, and George Leslie were a part of the Lanikai senior men's crew that won the 1 1/2 mile event yesterday.

Lanikai pulls away
at Macfarlane

The club wins its seventh title
at the event after claiming eight
victories in a span of nine races

Tides. Swamping.


Collisions. Hulis.


The luck of the lane draw. The luck of the steersman.


All the elements that can make the Walter J. Macfarlane Memorial Regatta unpredictable and exciting came into play yesterday at Waikiki Beach. The standings in the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association's only surf event were close until midway through the 37-event schedule.

Then, just like the surging afternoon tide, Lanikai Canoe Club rode a wave of success with eight victories in a span of nine adults races to pull away. Lanikai won 12 events overall to claim its seventh Macfarlane trophy with 87 points.

Host Outrigger, the defending champion, finished second in the 63rd running of its own event with 60 points.

Kamu Lau steered three of Keahiakahoe's four winning crews to lead the club to the A Division (17 or fewer entries) title with 32 points. Waikiki Surf Club was second at 20.

The regatta allows open steering, meaning the clubs can use their best steersmen in as many races as needed.

"This is a random luck race," said Outrigger steersman Jimmy Austin, who had two victories and another win taken away for an interference call. "We won in Lane 6, won in Lane 1. It's anybody's race. It's all about getting out there, doing the best you can and hope that luck is on your side.

"It's all about what's happening (with the waves) going out and what's happening coming in."

Hui Lanakila, foreground, was rammed by Kailua after rounding the 1-mile marker during the senior women's 1 1/2 mile event yesterday.

The only major collision of the day came during the 1 1/2-mile senior women's race as leader Hui Lanakila, in Lane 1, was going back out after making the mile turn and Kailua, in Lane 2, was coming in to make the turn. Kailua rammed Hui Lanakila, splitting Hui Lanakila's ama (outrigger) in half and flipping Kailua's canoe over.

No one was seriously injured, but neither crew finished the race, which was eventually won by Outrigger. Hui Lanakila competed in nine more events in a canoe borrowed from Lanikai.

"It was ugly," Kailua steersman Kamoa Kalama said of the collision. "The good thing is that everybody is OK. The unfortunate thing is that Hui Lanakila was leading.

"I was coming in wide on our turn and caught a wave. I had hoped they (Hui Lanakila) would come out of their turn tight, get clear and that we'd just miss their tail (on the overlap). He (steersman Adam Treinen-Aea) went wide, too. We were coming in fast and there was nothing that could be done."

Four of the Hui Lanakila crew came back later in the day to take a gold medal in the women's 40 1-mile event.

"We had some backwash (in Lane 4) that helped us on the way out," said Gail Grabowsky, who stroked the winning crew and sat No. 2 in the senior race. "I was thinking, 'Oh, maybe the gods will be with us this time.' We had the perfect wave coming in."

Hui Lanakila won in 7 minutes, 52.95 seconds, easily outdistancing Outrigger by 23 seconds.

One of the more impressive victories came in the men's Novice A 1-mile event where Anuenue won in Lane 6, traditionally a poor lane. (Only three canoes won in Lane 6 yesterday, compared to 11 in Lane 3, 10 in Lane 4 and nine in Lane 5).

David Napoleon caught a wave about 30 feet above the quarter-mile flag and "I guess I got lucky," he said. "It's usually tough to win out there."

Anuenue finished in 6:53.27, some 24 seconds ahead of Lanikai. It was the third consecutive year that Napoleon steered this crew to a win at Waikiki; the crew also won in 2003 as novice Bs and last year in their first novice A season.

"When we turned at the flag, I knew we just needed to catch a wave to do it," said Andy Cochran, the usual steersman who moved up to No. 5 yesterday. "David is a great steersman."

Napoleon's father, Nappy, and his two brothers, twins Aaron and Darren, also steered yesterday. Aaron and Darren had leads in their youth races, but hulied before the finish line.

Nappy Napoleon steered the boys 14 to a win. He had his victory in the mixed 55 thrown out due to a false start in the choppy conditions in Lane 1.

Of all the finishes, Lanikai's men's open 4 was the most entertaining. The crew crossed the line second with the canoe filled with water to the gunwales. The canoe swamped when the wave that steersman John Foti tried to stay on doubled up and broke on the canoe some 20 yards from the finish. The crew continued to paddle and finished 11 seconds behind Keahiakahoe and four seconds ahead of Leeward Kai.

"That was a first for me," Foti said. "I've come to the conclusion that it is probably not the best way to finish a race but we did it with pretty good style.

"You try to stay ahead of the white water but sometimes the waves are hard to predict. Today, you take it seriously but it's all about good fun."

Foti and brother Jim were part of the winning sophomore and senior men's crews. The senior event is considered the blue-ribbon race and the victors are toasted with a champagne poured into the Macfarlane Trophy, a silver loving cup.

"And champagne never tastes as good as when it comes in that silver cup," John Foti said.

Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association

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