Lanikai opts out
of state regatta

After approval of its
canoes is delayed, the club
decides to stay home

Maui no ka oi?

For Lanikai Canoe Club, it is more like Maui not at all.

The Oahu paddling power will not be competing in next month's state championship at Hanaka'o'o Beach on Maui. At issue is the club's use of "fibrous materials" on the manus (stern and bow pieces) and gunwales of its koa racing canoes -- fiberglass that does not meet the current interpretation of rules pertaining to modification of the traditional canoe.

Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association officials this week received a letter from Lanikai president Judy Sangiuliano, clarifying the club's withdrawal from the Aug. 6 event, saying it was not being done in protest but based on a number of factors.

One is simply logistics. Although HCRA had given a waiver to Lanikai to compete at this year's state race, that decision was made in May -- two months after Lanikai officials told paddlers registering for the club that there would be no trip to Maui.

"It (the waiver) was offered too late for a club our size (450 members) to alter our plans for this year," Sangiuliano said.

In the letter to the HCRA, Sangiuliano wrote that "we decided to adhere to our decision because of the following reasons: 1) families had already planned their summer vacation schedules, 2) the short time frame within which to plan a trip to the outer island for a club our size, (price and availability of planes and hotel), and 3) the flexibility (and opportunity) to enable deserving members to paddle in races without the pressure of having to place every race to ensure a decent lane for the State Championships. Coaches could do the right things for the right reasons and not be swayed to win at all cost."

Coaches will often "stack" crews with different paddlers at the OHCRA championship in hopes of qualifying in events in which they had little success during the regular season or hadn't entered previously.

In order to compete at the state-championship regatta, clubs qualify crews through a point system over the course of the regatta season. There are five regattas that count toward the state race, as well as the OHCRA championship, that latter which awards an automatic berth into the state race to each event winner.

The LCC board decided to work toward changing the rule so that the club could compete next year. Any change would have to be approved at the HCRA's annual meeting Dec. 3.

Specifications of "legal" canoes differ among island paddling associations. While Lanikai's two koa canoes are fine under OHCRA specs, they aren't under HCRA's.

"I don't believe this has ever happened," said OHCRA president Hannie Anderson, who has been involved with paddling for more than 50 years. "But we do respect Lanikai's decision on this and I can understand where they're coming from."

"It was a very tough decision," Lanikai head coach Kalani Irvine said. "We revisited it a couple of times. In May, we did some research, looked at planes, cars, hotels. But to move a club our size ...

"Plus, we wouldn't have been at full strength. Families had already made plans. And we believe in what we did. We didn't gain any speed. It was to strengthen the canoe. It was about safety since we do use our koa in the Molokai race.

"We've been racing the Mokulua in states since 1991. The veneer is allowed on paddles, on the ama (outrigger). What has happened is the rule hasn't changed, but the interpretation has."

Several other clubs have koas with the same carbon fiber, including Outrigger, Honolulu Pearl and Leeward Kai. Those three clubs are still planning on competing at the state race.

Lanikai finished fourth in the AAA Division at last year's state regatta at Keehi Lagoon. The club's senior men's crew, the nucleus of the defending Molokai Hoe championship crew, has won the blue-ribbon event 12 of the past 13 years.

"The past few years, we've sent between 24-27 crews," Irvine said. "I don't know how many would have gone this year because we weren't looking at points to qualify.

"I'm sure we lost paddlers, but we grew as a club, made us more cohesive. It took a lot of pressure off during the season because no one was worried about being the No. 1 qualifier or the No. 2 qualifier. If you were racing junior men, you didn't have guys from the senior crew jump in trying to qualify your crew."

While the OHCRA championship is not the same as the state championship, Irvine said one thing hasn't changed.

"One of our goals this year was to win the Oahus," he said. "We'll do the best we can."

Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association
Lanikai Canoe Club

Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association

| | |
E-mail to Sports Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com