After winning the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association’s season-opening regatta June 6, Kailua Canoe Club endured a frustrating six-week winless drought.
However, defending OHCRA champion Kailua put an end to that streak yesterday with a convincing 99-83 victory over Windward-side rival Lanikai in the annual John D. Kaupiko Regatta at Keehi Lagoon. Kailua claimed both the overall and AAA division (27-39 crews entered) titles thanks in part to 10 race victories as it held off Lanikai, Outrigger (61 points) and Hui Nalu (46 points).
For Lanikai, yesterday’s result was its second runner-up finish of the season, and comes on the heels of the club winning four consecutive regattas. Lanikai’s first second-place finish came in the season opener when it fell to Kailua.
"Everybody’s been stepping forward to do whatever they can, and that makes a big difference," said Kailua coach Kathy Erwin. "We were struggling a bit, and Lanikai’s been doing really well. Both clubs are outstanding, and Outrigger came on late, too."
Kailua pulled away late in the day by winning five of the regatta’s final 11 races, and added two runner-up finishes to earn valuable points. Four of the five wins were notched by veteran crews with paddlers age 50 and older.
"We’ve been fortunate to win most of the flat-water races," said Kamoa Kalama, crew member and coach of Kailua’s victorious senior men’s masters 50 crew. "As we expected, other crews came out with a lot of reputable paddlers. The clubs are all in such good shape, it comes down to a matter of seconds. The difference is technique and focus."
Lanikai fell victim to a clerical error early in the day, which likely cost the club two victories.
The club mistakenly switched its boys 15 and 16 crews’ registration cards — an OHCRA rule violation that results in a disqualification and a monetary fine. The miscue was discovered as race officials were scanning the cards — which are bar-coded to provide the official recorder with information about each paddler for age and eligibility purposes — and since the club was given ample time prior to submitting its cards to correct the error, both crews were disqualified.
Since the error was found between the two races, Lanikai’s boys 15 crew — which would have won its race — was disqualified, making Kailua the winner, and Lanikai’s boys 16 crew — which was previously undefeated and likely would have won again — was scratched.
"I don’t know exactly what the point spread would have been, but those DQs made a difference," said Lanikai coach Jimmy Bruhn. "But, it was an honest mistake, and the kids are a good bunch. They handled it like adults, no moping around or blaming anyone. I’m very proud of them. They taught me something today."
Hui Lanakila fended off Keahiakahoe, 39-36, to claim the AA division (14-26 crews entered). Waikiki Surf Club finished atop a logjam in the race for the A division (1-13 crews entered) crown, amassing eight points to best four teams tied for second with five points each — Waimanalo, Keola O Ke Kai, Anuenue and Kai Oni.
The OHCRA clubs now must prepare for the organization’s championship regatta on Sunday at Keehi Lagoon. The race is important not just for OHCRA bragging rights, but also because the top four crews from each race according to the season-long cumulative point standings will earn berths into the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association’s state championship regatta scheduled for Aug. 7, also at Keehi Lagoon.
"Clubs are trying to switch crews around to qualify for the state race," Erwin said. "Next week is going to be really fun."
Na Keiki edges Koa Kai
Na Keiki O Ka Moi defeated Koa Kai by one point, 62-61, to take the overall title in Na Ohana O Na Hui Wa’a’s Waikiki Beach Boys Invitational yesterday at Waikiki Beach.
Na Keiki O Ka Moi was the only club entered in the AAA division (25-39 crews).
Koa Kai took the AA (13-24 crews) crown and Lokahi took second with 53 points.
Kumulokahi-Elks topped Ka Mamalahoe 25-20 for the A (6-12 crews) title.
Hui Wa’a returns to Keehi Lagoon on Saturday for its organization’s championship regatta.