POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 5, 2010
Something about the holidays brings out the best in the Lanikai Canoe Club.
The club picked up its first win of the season on the Sunday following King Kamehameha Day, won again on Father's Day, and yesterday, the club added Independence Day to that list.
Lanikai came from behind to defeat host club Outrigger, 98-93, and claimed its fourth consecutive Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association regatta victory at the 68th annual Walter J. Macfarlane Regatta at Waikiki Beach -- a July 4 tradition for OHCRA -- in the waters fronting the iconic Royal Hawaiian and Outrigger hotels. Lanikai and Outrigger have combined to win the past 17 Macfarlane regattas, while Lanikai has now claimed 10 victories in that time span.
"We have a good training program and we're sticking to it," said Lanikai head coach Jimmy Bruhn. "We have topnotch steersmen, and they went all out to help us win this regatta. To win this race is quite an achievement for our club."
The regatta was an exhibition and had no bearing on the organization's cumulative point standings which determine state championship berths. The Macfarlane is traditionally a favorite of many paddlers as the course is set up perpendicular to the shore, and allows crews to catch ocean bumps as they race toward the finish line.
Races are often won and lost based on catching the right wave at the right time, and crews used the open steering exemption which allows experienced steersmen to paddle in as many races necessary to help the club keep its paddlers and boats safe.
"It comes down to getting the right steersmen in the right boat at the right time," said Bruhn, whose club won a regatta-best 13 races.
The mixed masters 55 event provided the crowd with some drama as three canoes all took off on a wave. Hui Nalu and New Hope both flipped like dominoes knocking into one another, and a throng of onlookers gathered on the porch in front of Duke's as the boats slowly tipped over into the crashing surf. Outrigger survived the melee and rode the wave to victory, finishing the half-mile race in 4 minutes, 7.26 seconds.
"We were lucky, we had a little backwash (pushing us), and we didn't get to see all the excitement," said victorious crew member Maile Ostrem. "We haven't won yet this season so it's kind of like winning (the) state (championship race) for us. It means a lot because it's our regatta."
The perpetual Walter Macfarlane Memorial Trophy and Muriel Macfarlane Flanders Cup were awarded to the victorious crews in the men's and women's senior races. The respective winners from Outrigger and Lanikai were awarded the trophies in a post-race ceremony fronting Duke's as Henry Kapono played a live set. Following tradition, the winning crew members took sips of champagne from the cups topping both trophies.
The final race of the day featured members of the armed forces competing in a special Independence Day competition for bragging rights. Paddlers from various clubs got together in teams to represent their branch of service in the half-mile race. The Navy crew, which was sponsored by and raced in Lanikai's canoe, won the event while the ocean-savvy Coast Guard crew ended up flipping over.
"It's pretty special to me to serve, so it's fun to be able to paddle and do something I love," said Erik Moroles, a first-year canoe paddler with New Hope, who helped the Navy crew to victory. "It's a beautiful day and I feel blessed to live here and be a part of outrigger canoe paddling."
Following Lanikai and Outrigger in the AAA Division (27-39 crews entered) were Kailua (49 points) and Hui Nalu (27 points). Keahiakahoe held off Hui Lanakila 31-29 to claim the AA Division (14-26 crews entered) while Leeward Kai took the A Division (1-13 crews entered) with 29 points.
The OHCRA clubs now have a bye week and return to action on July 18 at Ke'ehi Lagoon for the annual John D. Kaupiko Regatta. The Na 'Ohana O Na Hui Waa organization, which had a bye last week, returns to action at Ma'ili Beach Park on Sunday.