After being dominated by rival Kailua Canoe Club to the tune of a 30-point loss in the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association’s season-opening regatta two weeks ago, Lanikai appeared to be a program in disarray.
But, following a confidence-boosting win at Kailua Beach on June 13, Lanikai came from behind to again beat defending OHCRA champion Kailua 87-85 and claim the AAA Division (27-39 crews entered) in yesterday’s Leeward Kai Father’s Day Regatta at Nanakuli Beach Park. Outrigger (67 points) and Hui Nalu (44 points) rounded out the large-club division in the regatta, which featured more than 2,500 paddlers competing in 39 races.
"It was real good, the club responded well to the coaches, said Lanikai head coach Jimmy Bruhn. "The coaches are taking their job seriously and getting the crews ready for all the races. Our coaching staff has a lot to do with us coming back from the 30-point loss in the first regatta. They’re doing a bang-up job."
Kailua held a 68-59 lead over Lanikai through the regatta’s first 29 races, but Lanikai chipped away at the deficit, cutting the margin to 85-83 with three races remaining, thanks in part to a victory in the men’s open four race.
Lanikai, which tied Kailua with nine victories for the day, then notched four points – one from a fourth-place finish in the mixed masters 55 race and three on a second-place finish in the regatta’s final event, the mixed open six. The four points, coupled with Kailua being shut out in the final three events, allowed Lanikai to swing the two-point lead in its favor.
"It’s going to be a dog fight all year, said Bruhn of the battle in the standings with Kailua and a talented Outrigger squad. "All the clubs are tough, but us and Kailua, we have the big numbers, so we have lots to work with."
Kailua could have bolstered its position had it not been disqualified in the senior men’s race, which Lanikai ended up winning. Kailua ran over the flag marking the turn at the 1-mile point of the 1 1/2 -mile race, and forfeited any possible points. Kailua steersman Brad Wong said Lanikai was comfortably ahead and would have won regardless of the disqualification. Lanikai’s senior men’s crew committed the same error in the season-opening regatta, and gave Kailua the victory.
Lanikai’s victorious crew in the senior men’s event provided a Father’s Day gift for Lanikai’s proud skipper as the group featured Kekoa and Ka’ai Bruhn – Jimmy’s sons. The crew, which also included Kahaku Aspelund, Aaron Creps, Matt Crowley and Jesse Hampton, wound up with a winning time of 11 minutes, 12.13 seconds and finished ahead of runner-up Outrigger by more than 3 seconds.
"We told the paddlers today to paddle for the fathers, said Bruhn, who noted that his sons are among his main inspirations to keep coaching and perpetuating the sport. "We told the fathers to paddle for their children, and everyone to paddle for their fathers, whether they are still here with us or deceased."
Hui Lanakila claimed the AA Division (14-26 crews entered) with 43 points. Keahiakahoe (31 points), Healani (21 points) and host club Leeward Kai (20 points) rounded out the medium-size division.
The A Division (1-13 crews entered) title went to Waimanalo, which earned nine points, and fended off Waikiki Surf Club and Keola O Ke Kai (five points apiece), Anuenue (four points) and Kai Oni (three points).
OHCRA heads to the Windward side on Sunday for its annual Waimanalo Beach Regatta. The Na ‘Ohana O Na Hui Waa organization, which held its fifth regatta of the season yesterday at Haleiwa Beach Park, returns to Keehi Lagoon on Sunday.
Manu O Ke Kai rebounds
A week after a heart-breaking loss at Keehi Lagoon, Manu O Ke Kai bounced back to win the Na Ohana O Na Hui Wa’a’s North Shore Regatta yesterday at Haleiwa Beach.
The crew won seven races to finish with 71 points, topping Na Keiki O Ka Mo’i in Division AAA (25-39 crews entered). Waikiki Beach Boys won Division AA (13-24 crews) with 61 points, and Ka Mamalahoe took Division A (6-12 crews) with 19.