Kaneohe is keeping
an eye on Lokahi
KCC enters tomorrow’s Hui Wa'a
Championships having won all but
one regatta this season
By Kyle Galdeira
Special to the Star-Bulletin
The Kaneohe Canoe Club is looking to cap a near-perfect season with a victory in the Na Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a Championships tomorrow at Keehi Lagoon. The club will attempt to defend the title it won last year by one point over Manu O Ke Kai.
"In order to win, we need to go hard in every race," Kaneohe head coach Clint Anderson said. "Everybody else is going to come out with new tricks, so we just need to focus and take it race by race. We have to go for it without taking anybody lightly."
Kaneohe has won every regatta it has entered this season except for the Windward Kai Regatta on June 26 at Kailua Beach. The club finished second to Lokahi by one point in the AAA Division (25-plus crews).
"We can't take anything for granted," said Anderson. "Lokahi is right there, so we must respect them. They are a competitive club who are champions themselves, so any given day they can pull it off."
According to Anderson, the club did not participate in last week's Waikiki Beach Boys Regatta, which Lokahi won, because the event did not count toward state championship standings. Also, one of the club's canoes was damaged during a collision in the same regatta last season, which is the only surf race of the year.
The time off allowed club members to do some fund-raising and spend some time having fun on the sandbars that encompass the club's practice site.
"(The break) gave us a few extra days of practice, and some time to focus on what we have to get done," Anderson said.
Koa Kai has dominated the AA Division (13-24 crews), winning all but one regatta. The club came in fourth in the AAA Division at the season's first event, and has since entered fewer crews to qualify in the middle division.
The Waikiki Beach Boys are favored to claim the A Division (6-12 crews) title after winning it every regatta, usually by a double-digit margin, and often surpassing opponents in the AA Division.
In addition to racing toward an overall club title, there are 10 crews aiming for perfect seasons. The crews that have gone undefeated throughout the regular season are: Na Keiki O Na Ka Mo'i's boys 14; Koa Kai men's senior masters; Lokahi men's novice B; Kaneohe's women's senior masters and boys 16; Waikiki Beach Boys women's freshmen and seniors; and Manu O Ke Kai's women's golden 55, men's golden 55 and men's senior.
This will be the first Hui Wa'a regatta held at Keehi since May 29. Subsequent races were relocated to Kailua, Waimanalo and Ma'ili after an influx of tiny, stinging jellyfish made the water in the lagoon unsafe.
According to Hui Wa'a vice president Tambry Young, the clubs currently practicing in the lagoon have encountered no problems with the creatures during their training. However, if the jellyfish do return, officials will have the option of enforcing a "buffer zone" start, which would allow canoes to hold back away from the starting line, and then creep up together, rather than being steadied at the line by boat holders.
The decision will be made tomorrow after a final survey of the water.
Last week, the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association held its John D. Kaupiko Regatta at Keehi, and there were only a few reports of jellyfish stings. Boat holders used a special lotion to combat both stings and sunburn as they treaded water while steadying the boats at the starting line, and waiting for the crews to finish.
"We heard that the water was clear, probably because of less activity in the lagoon since we stopped paddling there for a while," said Young, who pointed out that the moon is in the same cycle now as it was when the jellyfish first became a problem. "(OHCRA) stirred the water up a bit last week, so we're going to stir it up a little more, and hope things are OK."