Kailua finally ended rival Lanikai’s three-year championship streak by claiming the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association title last summer, and annexed bragging rights from what had been a dominant sister club based just miles down Kailua Beach.
It appears Kailua has adjusted well to its new role of dominant sibling, as it bullied the competition en route to capturing the 20th annual Clement D. Pai’aina Regatta yesterday at Ke’ehi Lagoon to open the OHCRA regatta season.
Kailua won a regatta-best 12 races and amassed 114 points to lead the AAA Division (27-39 crews entered). They were followed in the large-club category by Lanikai (84 points), Outrigger (56 points) and Hui Nalu (48 points).
"It’s wonderful," said Kailua coach Kathy Erwin as she admired both her club’s dominant performance and the perfectly timed rainbow forming overhead. "We didn’t expect (the wide margin of victory). Lanikai is a powerhouse, so even if they appeared to struggle, they’ll bounce back."
Erwin noted that the club carried an enhanced sense of pride and unity after a recent anonymous donation provided a microfiber T-shirt and sweatshirt for each member of the club. The blue-and-yellow attire drew praise from numerous club members throughout the regatta.
"Who knows? Maybe that was the difference," she said.
More than 2,500 paddlers representing the organization’s 17 clubs competed in age divisions ranging from 12 and under to 60 and above. The regatta featured 39 races, with the top four crews in each event earning points toward the club standings based on the tiered 5-3-2-1 point system.
Kailua benefited from a costly miscue by Lanikai in one of the day’s marquee events, the mile-long senior men’s race. While Lanikai initially won the race by a comfortable 5-second margin, the green-clad crew was disqualified after officials deemed they ran over the flag at the first of three turns throughout the race.
The hiccup allowed Kailua, which originally finished behind Lanikai, to claim the victory, and the all-important five points that come with the win. Couple those points with Lanikai’s forfeiture of five points, and the error resulted in a big 10-point swing in Kailua’s favor.
"We could tell they were paddling angry," said Jordan Wong, steersman for Kailua’s victorious crew. "We got lucky. We didn’t know (they hit the flag) until they told us after the race when we were congratulating them."
Wong’s fellow winning crewmates who posted a winning time of 11 minutes, 12.67 seconds were: Julian Wicker, Justin Watts, C.J. Day, Alika Guillaume and Donovan Leandro.
"That’s a big swing right there," said Lanikai coach Jimmy Bruhn. "I doubt if it would have made a difference (in narrowing the eventual 30-point deficit), but we need to eliminate those kinds of mistakes. It’s nobody’s fault, we just need to get better and make strides to be a contender to win regattas instead of chasing."
Hui Lanakila edged Keahiakahoe, 31-30, to claim the AA Division (14-26 crews entered). Healani and Leeward Kai each scored 20 points in the medium-club division.
Keola O Ke Kai took the A Division (1-13 crews entered), finishing with six points and topping Waikiki Surf Club (five points) and Waimanalo (three points).
This week, OHCRA heads to Kailua Beach on Sunday for its annual King Kamehameha Regatta.
The Na ‘Ohana O Na Hui Wa’a organization, which held its third regatta of the season yesterday at Kailua Beach, returns to Ke’ehi Lagoon on Sunday.
Ka Mo’i wins Hui Wa’a
Yesterday at Kailua Beach, Na Keiki O Ka Mo’i won six races for its second consecutive Hui Wa’a regatta title. Ka Mo’i finished with 71 points in winning the AAA Division (25-plus crews) ahead of Manu O Ke Kai and Kaneohe, which tied with 58 points.
Waikiki Beach Boys, winning seven consecutive adult races, easily won the AA Division (12-24 crews), while Ka Mamalahoe and North Shore tied for the A Division (6-12 crews) with 19 points.