That, and its successful execution, is all that stood between Manu O Ke Kai and its first overall regatta victory in the outrigger canoe club’s 26-year history, which is laden with oh-so-close-but-not-quite finishes.
However, when the club’s senior men’s crew failed to successfully navigate the race’s final turn at the 1 1/4 mile mark of the 1 1/2-mile-long event, Manu O Ke Kai received a disqualification, lost any hope of earning points for the club and finished one point away from victory.
Kaneohe and the Waikiki Beach Boys capitalized on the error, each amassing 67 points to finish as co-overall champions of the Na Ohana O Na Hui Wa’a organization’s Lokahi Hoe regatta yesterday at Keehi Lagoon. Manu O Ke Kai finished with 66 points, good for second place in the AAA Division (25-39 crews entered) behind large-club leader Kaneohe and ahead of Na Keiki O Ka Mo’i (55 points).
We wanted to win (all the marquee men’s events), said Moku Sanborn, steersman for the victorious Manu O Ke Kai men’s 40 crew. "The kids did well in the morning, and that’s why we were up there (in the standings)."
The plan was working, as Manu O Ke Kai won the men’s freshman, sophomore and 40 events, and were on course for a top-three finish in the senior race until the gaffe nixed any opportunity to earn valuable points.
Sanborn also steered the club’s senior men crew, and expressed disappointment shortly after falling to eventual winner Waikiki — its main rival in that particular race. According to Sanborn, on the final turn, his canoe veered sharply, and before he could react, forced the boat into the flag.
"Our approach was good, but when I called for the uni (for the first two paddlers in the boat to dig deep and yank the front of the boat around the turn), the boat responded (too quickly) and we needed to correct," he said.
Seven-time defending Hui Wa’a champion Kaneohe won six races for the day, and relied on points earned early in the day from its youth paddlers to stay in the points race as the day went on. According to coach Clint Anderson, while the victory was important to the club, he and the paddlers are focused on qualifying the most crews possible for the state championship regatta in August.
"I’m stoked that we even got that close (in the end), we were surprised to come back," he said. "This is how the championship (regatta) will turn out; this (parity) is what canoe paddling is all about."
The Beach Boys were the epitome of efficiency as the medium-size club was able to tie Kaneohe despite entering 15 fewer races. Waikiki, which dominated the AA Division (13-24 crews entered) by finishing ahead of Koa Kai and Lokahi (24 points apiece) and Kalihi Kai (22 points), won a regatta-high nine races, finished second in six and third in its remaining two events.
"It really does show how all of our programs are progressing, said club president Dana Gorecki, also a paddler in two of Waikiki’s victorious crews. "Our men’s program has been building, and it’s evident by our doing well in regattas. Right now it’s about blending and technique, building endurance and trying to figure out the combinations (of crews) that work best.
Ka Mamalahoe captured the A Division (6-12 crews) with 21 points, and fended off North Shore (18 points), which mounted a late comeback that fell just short.
Hui Wa’a will hold its next regatta on Sunday at Haleiwa Beach Park.