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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, April 30, 2001

Gusty winds, consistent swells boost state canoe winners

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Proof that paddling is indeed a sport for all ages, Kala Judd and Karel Tresnak Jr. were the top finishers in the Eyecatcher/Hurricane Kanaka I Kai Ka State Championships yesterday.

Judd, 42, was the first to finish on a kayak; Tresnak, 20, was first on a one-person canoe. A record 237 entries participated in the event, which was for one-person kayaks, one-person canoes and two-person canoes.

Gusty trade winds, a favorable current and consistent swells contributed to fast finishes.

"Primarily, the surfing conditions were so incredible, it made it exciting," Judd said. "It was pretty much a matter of connecting the (waves) from start to finish."

Judd was clearly the best at doing that yesterday in the kayak division. He completed the 23-mile course from Hawai'i Kai to 'Ewa Beach in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 46 seconds. Wyatt Jones was second at 2:07:25, followed by James Beaton in 2:08:03.

"Kala has always been a master in the surf," said Jones, 31. "I could see him the whole way, but I just couldn't catch up."

Judd pulled about 100 yards ahead of Jones off Kewalo Basin, and maintained that advantage the rest of the way.

"Every time I caught a good wave, I'd turn around to see how far ahead it got me, but Wyatt would still be right there," Judd said. "I was fortunate there was surf the whole way. If there was flat water at the end, he would have caught me, no question."

Judd led last week's O'ahu Championships before being passed by Jones and Beaton in the flat water at the end of the course.

"This is big for me," Judd said. "I just wanted to see if I could compete with these younger guys."

The women's kayak division wasn't quite as dramatic, with Megan Harrington topping the field by more than six minutes with a winning time of 2:27:09. Mary Smolenski was second at 2:33:12.

"It has not been better all season and it could not have been any better," Harrington said of the conditions. "I just had fun riding down the whole way."

Tresnak shared a similar strategy in repeating as the men's canoe champ. He broke free from a pack of contenders off Kewalo Basin by relying on his surfing ability.

"Once I got the lead, I started surfing like crazy," he said.

Tresnak's winning time of 2:10:49 was 10 seconds better than Aaron Napoleon's 2:10:59. Kai Bartlett was third at 2:13:17.

John Foti (2:13:36) and Mike Judd (2:13:44) were also in the lead pack most of the way, but Tresnak pulled away from all of them by charting his own course.

Napoleon and Judd actually led off Kewalo Basin, but they were riding swells close to the shoreline. Tresnak, who practiced on the course last week, opted to paddle further out.

"That's when it paid off," Tresnak said. "The other guys were way inside, but I knew I wanted to be outside. I got into better wind and better waves and just got into a good rhythm."

Napoleon was an impressive second, considering this is his first season of one-person canoe paddling. He is the son of legendary canoe paddler Joseph "Nappy" Napoleon.

"If you ask anybody, the best bet is usually to follow Karel," Napoleon said. "I saw his line moving, but I was 200 yards inside and I didn't want to paddle out just to get on that line. I gambled by staying inside, but that's what I had to do. I still got second, so I'm happy with that."

Kelly Fey dominated the women's canoe race, just like she did last year. Her winning time of 2:38:59 was nearly 10 minutes ahead of Megan Clark (2:48:57). It was the eighth consecutive year that Fey has been the state's top female paddler. From 1994-99, she was the top kayak paddler; last year, she started paddling on a canoe and has now won two consecutive state titles.

Pat Von and Greg Edwards were the first to finish on a two-person canoe in 2:15:44. A 15-mile "short" course was also held: Ric Deane (1:18:37) was first among the kayakers; Barry Tantog (1:24:01) was first on a canoe.