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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, June 25, 2001

Lokahi overtakes Kane'ohe in regatta at Waimanalo Beach

By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Talk about a strong return on investment.

Lokahi's men's masters (35-older) crew took advantage of its new quick-turning canoe to break away from Kane'ohe and Manu O Ke Kai in the decisive final race of yesterday's Na 'Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a Windward Kai Canoe Club Regatta at Ke'ehi Lagoon.

The late win, worth five points, gave Lokahi (76) a one-point victory over Kane'ohe (75) in the AA Division. Kane'ohe could have tied Lokahi with a second-place finish in the race but was edged out by Manu O Ke Kai down the stretch.

Manu O Ke Kai finished third in the regatta with 35 points.

Koa Kai won the A Division with 32 points, followed by Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i (29) and Imua (21).

"Every point counts in these races," said Kane'ohe head coach Clint Anderson, who had predicted early on that the regatta would be decided in the last race. "It's been like this all season."

Lokahi and Kane'ohe were tied at 52 points after 23 races and remained within four points of each other through three lead changes in the last 13 events.

Lokahi, Kane'ohe and Manu O Ke Kai were virtually even heading into the turnaround in the one-mile final race. That's when Lokahi's new canoe, acquired just two weeks ago, proved its worth.

"It's really good on the turns," said Lokahi steersman Ropati Hebenstreit. "I noticed how windy it was out there in my earlier race so we eased up on the power as we approached (the turn) and let the boat go with the wind."

Lokahi picked up half a boat-length on the turn. Lokahi extended the lead to three boat-lengths heading into the final quarter mile and finished the race in 7 minutes and 41.84 seconds. Manu O Ke Kai (7:51.71) and Kane'ohe (7:56.87) were even coming out of the turn, but Manu O Ke Kai pulled away in the final 200 yards.

"That was the largest margin we've won by all year," said Lokahi masters paddler Mark McConnell, whose crew has won the event four weeks in a row after losing to Kane'ohe in the season opener.

The rest of the winning crew included Robert Viernes, Davis Aki, Eddie Davis and Kevin Mokuahi.

In what has been an intense back-at-ya battle so far this season, Lokahi and Kane'ohe had split the previous four regattas with three decided by six points or fewer.

"We felt (the pressure) but it's like this every week," said McConnell. "It always comes down to our race."

Lokahi and Kane'ohe each competed in 27 of the 36 events yesterday, and each won nine races. Kane'ohe lost two crucial points early in the day when its boys' 15-and-under crew saw its third-place finish nullified by a disqualification for drifting past the finish line before the race was over. That was one of two Kane'ohe disqualifications for the day.

"It happens to every club," Anderson said. "We try to minimize the mistakes we make, but that's part of racing."

As expected, Lokahi also got strong performances from its women's crews, with the freshman, sophomore, senior and golden 55-older teams each winning to stay unbeaten on the season.

• • •


• Bob Meyer Keiki Program Regatta: Lanikai won nine of 36 races and earned points in 16 others en route to a convincing victory in the O'ahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association event at Waimanalo Beach Park.

Lanikai amassed 99 points to beat Hui Nalu (72) and Kailua (65) in the AA Division.

Keahiakahoe won the A Division with 13 points, followed by Waikiki Surf (12) and Anuenue (5).