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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 21, 2002

Lokahi Canoe Club makes it three in a row

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

The yearlong improvement project of the Lokahi Canoe Club came to fruition yesterday.

The Lokahi sophomore women's team won its race to lead the club to its third consecutive Na 'Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a Championship.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

Lokahi won its third consecutive Na 'Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a Championship Regatta yesterday at Ke'ehi Lagoon, edging Kane'ohe Canoe Club, 66-60. It was the 15th Hui Wa'a title in the last 16 years for the Ala Wai-based club.

"It went better than I expected," said Lokahi head coach Robert Viernes. "We got better as the season went along and today was definitely a good day."

Indeed, Lokahi's 66 points yesterday was a season-high. Lokahi also led the regatta with eight race victories: mixed 12-and-younger, men novice B, girls 18-and-younger, men novice A, women freshman, women sophomore, women senior, and women 55-and-older.

"I remember the first regatta of the season, we won just three races," Viernes said. "So for us to come out with a performance like this is a nice surprise."

As expected, the bulk of Lokahi's points came from its adult paddlers. In particular, the Lokahi women continued their dominance of the Hui Wa'a competition.

Lokahi won the women's freshman, sophomore and senior races, all by relatively comfortable margins. For good measure, they also won a women's junior race that did not count toward the overall point total.

The crew of Theresa Gerry, Kini Neal, Kanesa Duncan, Jennifer Thompson, Nalyne Harada and Iwa Bush won the 1 1/2-mile senior women's race with a time of 13 minutes, 27.20 seconds. The Waikiki Beach Boys placed second, 25 seconds later.

It was the 46th consecutive victory for the Lokahi senior women against Hui Wa'a competition. The women's senior race is considered the top division for females in regattas, and Lokahi has not lost in that race since 1997.

"We all know what we need to do for the club," Duncan said. "We have some awesome, experienced women in our group who lead us every week and remind us what's at stake."

Duncan, Bush, Harada and Thompson paddled on three winning crews yesterday.

The victory by the women's senior crew gave Lokahi a 48-44 lead over Kane'ohe it would not relinquish the rest of the day.

As it has all season, Kane'ohe relied primarily on its youth paddlers. Of Kane'ohe's six race victories, five came from its youth crews (boys 12-and-younger, girls 13-and-younger, boys 13-and-younger, girls 14-and-younger, and boys 14-and-younger).

"Our kids did the job again," Kane'ohe head coach Clint Anderson said. "But we still made some mistakes and we made some maneuvers that might have cost us a little bit."

Anderson said he moved several of his youth paddlers into different crews yesterday in an effort to qualify more crews for the Aug. 3 state championship regatta at Hilo Bay. Yesterday's regatta was the last chance for Hui Wa'a crews to qualify for the state regatta, and only the top two or three crews in each division will be selected to compete.

"Some of our kids (crews) were were already qualified, so those kids, we moved them to the weaker crews that needed to do good today to get into states," he explained. "But no excuses. Lokahi is so tough in the adults. They won this championship, we didn't lose it."

Of Kane'ohe's 60 total points, 39 came from its youth paddlers.

Somewhat surprisingly, Lokahi countered with 17 youth points, including a stunning victory in the girls 18-and-younger race.

Until yesterday, Lokahi had never placed higher than fourth in a girls 18 race all season.

Kevin Mokuahi, coach of the crew, said he moved several of his 15- and 16-year-old girls into the 18 crew yesterday.

"We put a young group out there, but it worked out," Mokuahi said. "They weren't going to qualify for states no matter what, so I told them just go out and treat this like their big championship."

None of the girls in the winning crew is even 18: Po'omaikelani Keola (15), Anya Klattenhoff (15), Kerrie Lee (15), Sarah Tanuvasa (17), Noelani Infiel (14) and Pikake Mokuahi (17).

Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i placed third in the overall team standings with 44 points.

The crew of Jason Bellefeuille, Greg Pavao, Rolly Padello, Kahele Anderson, Danny Sanchez and Fats Kahoalii paddled Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i to victory in the prestigious men's senior race.

Bellefeuille, Pavao and Anderson also teamed with B.J. Bagood to win the men's open-4 race. That combination went undefeated this season.

"We practice just with these four guys all year," Bellefeuille said. "Everything was geared toward building ourselves for the state race."

Two other Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i crews capped undefeated seasons yesterday: boys 16-and-younger and boys 18-and-younger.

"Hopefully those boys come up and paddle with the men in the next couple years so we can be even stronger," Bellefeuille said.

Eight crews, including the three from Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i, went undefeated against Hui Wa'a competition this year: Kane'ohe boys 12-and-younger, Manu O Ke Kai mixed 55-and-older, Lokahi senior women, Kalihi Kai women 45-and-older, and Kai Poha men 55-and-older.

Koa Kai went undefeated as a club this season, winning the A division for smaller clubs every week. Yesterday, Koa Kai scored 41 points to top Windward Kai (28).

"We're real happy with how the season went," Koa Kai head coach Joe Kim said. "We just wanted to make sure we didn't come out flat today, or the rest of the season would have been for nothing."

The O'ahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association Championship Regatta will be held today at Ke'ehi Lagoon.