The Kailua Canoe Club is taking the "every point matters" mentality this paddling season.
It helped pay off Sunday at Keehi Lagoon when Kailua won the Clement D. Pa‘aina Regatta, the season opener of the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association.
Kailua won the 42-event regatta with 89 points. Hui Nalu finished second with 76, Lanikai placed third with 73 and Outrigger fourth with 67. All four teams compete in the AAA division for large clubs.
The last time Kailua competed as a team was at last August’s Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association state championship at Keehi Lagoon, it lost the title by a single point.
"We finished one point behind Lanikai at the state meet, 342-341," said Kailua head coach Kathy Erwin. "The paddlers came in this year knowing every point matters."
Kailua won three youth races, two novice and four masters Sunday. Outrigger won eight races overall, Hui Nalu took seven and Lanikai claimed six. Sixteen clubs competed in the regatta with points awarded on a 5-3-2-1 basis.
"I was really proud of our strong showing, but you’ll notice all of the Triple-A clubs came out really strong and fairly even across the board," Erwin said. "I was real proud of our consistent effort throughout the day.
"I credit it to our coaching staff. We have experienced mentors and a whole bunch of new, enthusiastic, passionate, young coaches. The combination of the two has really helped us."
Hui Lanakila won the AA division with 38 points, followed by Keahiakahoe with 26 and Leeward Kai with 22.
Waikiki Surf Club took the A division with 14 points, followed by Waimanalo with seven and Keola O Ke Kai with five.
For the first time, OHCRA held official points races in the men’s and women’s masters 65 divisions. Last year, the 65 masters participated in exhibition races during the regattas.
There were seven crews entered Sunday in the men’s masters 65 race and two in the women’s masters 65. Both events were a half mile.
Outrigger won a tightly contested men’s masters 65 race in 4:27.44, Keahiakahoe was second in 4:28.40 and Lanikai third in 4:28.99.
"It’s a good thing the rest of the crews put up with the old guys and gave them a chance to paddle," said John Finney of the Outrigger men’s masters 65 crew. "We like to mix it up like everybody else. We train hard and do our best just like everybody else.
"It gives us something to do on Sundays and keeps us out of bars."
Finney, who has paddled for Outrigger for 35 years, said the addition of the men’s masters 65 division allows old friends to continue to paddle together. Finney paddled in the men’s 55 and 60 divisions last year.
Kailua won the women’s masters 65 race in 5:14.59 and Lanikai finished second in 6:05.17.
Lanikai won the prestigious 1½-mile men’s senior race in 11:09.93. Hui Lanakila finished second in 11:23.42 and Outrigger came in third in 11:26.60. Members of the winning Lanikai crew were Kahaku Aspelund, John Foti, Kekoa Bruhn, Jesse Hampton, Aaron Creps and Brett Fillmore.
Lanikai redeemed itself after a runner-up finish in the 1-mile men’s sophomore race. Five of the six paddlers from the Lanikai sophomore race competed in the senior race.
"It was a good race. It was an improvement on our sophomore race," Creps said. "It’s good to start off the season on a good note."
Hui Nalu won the 1½-mile women’s senior race in 12:48.67. Hui Lanakila placed second in 12:52.63 and Outrigger was third in 13:06.25.
Members of the winning Hui Nalu crew were Claire Townsend, Traci Yamada, Jaimie Kinard, Brenan Guyol, Leslie Fabish and Denise Darval-Chang.
"We have a lot of experience in the boat. That carried us for a large part of it," said Darval-Chang, who also is the head coach.
OHCRA’s next event is the King Kamehameha Regatta on Sunday at Kailua Beach Park.