Team New Zealand/Hawai'i back in front
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Wide awake after an unexpected wake-up call last week, Team New Zealand/Hawai'i paddled to an impressive victory in the Kailua Bay Men's Iron Challenge yesterday.
New Zealand/Hawai'i completed the 9 1/2-mile course around Kailua Bay in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 35 seconds. Lanikai's first-string crew placed second at 1:11:12. Lanikai's masters crew (paddlers age 35 and older) was third at 1:11:21.
Each team had to complete the course "iron" style, meaning there were no relief changes for the six-man crews (most long-distance races allow teams to use nine paddlers, with three available at any time for relief changes).
The victorious New Zealand/ Hawai'i crew was comprised of two paddlers from New Zealand (Maui Kjeldsen and Andrew Penny) and four from O'ahu (Raven Aipa, Kea Pa'iaina, Bill Pratt and Karel Tresnak Jr.).
"Basically, we're trying to get better with every race leading up to (the Moloka'i Hoe)," Tresnak said. "We're still working on some things, but we'll definitely take this over last week."
Last week, New Zealand/Hawai'i the defending Moloka'i Hoe champion placed second to Outrigger in the Duke Kahanamoku Long Distance Race. Outrigger placed sixth yesterday.
"We were kind of bummed out after that one," Tresnak said. "But at the same time, it showed us that we have to be ready every week."
Yesterday's race followed a triangular course, from the shore at Kailua Beach out to Mokolea island, then to the Mokulua islands, and then back to the shoreline.
By the time the fleet reached Mokolea, New Zealand/Hawai'i already had the lead. Against the wind headed to the Mokulua islands, New Zealand/Hawai'i increased it to an insurmountable margin.
"We tried to go long and strong on the upwind leg," Pratt said. "That seemed to open it up for us. There was a little less surf than normal, so once we saw we had a decent lead, we just concentrated on keeping strong to the finish."
Lanikai, experimenting with new roles for some of its paddlers, was satisfied with its performance.
"Basically, we wanted to put together a strong masters crew and a strong open crew," said paddler/ coach Mike Judd. "We pretty much split up our best guys into those two crews, so we didn't think either one of us would win. Considering that, we're happy with second and third."
What's more, several of the Lanikai paddlers sat in new positions in the canoe yesterday. Judd, for example, steered the open crew. It was the first time he steered a canoe in a long-distance race.
"We're not trying to play games," he said. "We're just trying to figure our own team out. Norhing's set. We still have no idea who's going to be in our first crew for Moloka'i."
Kailua Canoe Club placed fourth overall at 1:11:39, while Hui Nalu was fifth at 1:12:02.
Forty-five crews completed the race. The event was open only to men's crews.
The Dad Center Long Distance Race for Women is today. The course will travel from Kailua Beach to the Outrigger Canoe Club in Waikiki.
The state's top teams men and women compete again next weekend during the Queen Lili'uokalani Long Distance Races at Kailua, Kona.