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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 22, 2004

Lokahi hopes to unseat Kane'ohe

By Stanley Lee
Advertiser Staff Writer

Lokahi Canoe Club's first and only regatta win of the year could help the club build steam heading into Saturday's Na 'Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a Championship.

Kane'ohe will call on its youth paddlers — such as its boys' 18-and-under crew — to try and defend its Na 'Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a Championship in the AAA division Saturday at Ke'ehi Lagoon.

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Lokahi's win at this past Sunday's Waikiki Beachboys' Invitational Regatta prevented Kane'ohe from sweeping the league's regular season. Kane'ohe had won the first seven races of the summer until Lokahi edged Kane'ohe, 66-49.

"It gives us a little momentum going into the championship," Lokahi coach Robert Viernes acknowledged.

The day-long regatta will be held at Ke'ehi Lagoon with the youth races starting in the morning and the adult races in the afternoon.

"I think we'll just focus on our own crews and our own teams instead of looking at what everyone else is doing," Lokahi paddler Christina Clinton said. "We'll just look at how to blend as a crew."

Lokahi also has history in its favor as the club has won 15 of the past 17 league titles. However, membership in the club is down this year.

"We're maybe fourth (in the league) in membership," Viernes said. "We just don't have the numbers as we did last year. It's like a rebuilding year for us this year."

Na 'Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a Championship

When: Saturday, 8 a.m. Youth crews paddle in the morning and the adult crews race in the afternoon.

Where: Ke'ehi Lagoon

Format: There are 36 races, with points awarded to the top four finishers in each race. Canoe clubs compete in three divisions — AAA, AA and A — based on the number of races they compete in.

Kane'ohe, the defending champion, received strong performances from its youth paddlers this season. That could be a factor at Saturday's championships.

"We're a target," Kane'ohe coach Clint Anderson said. "A lot of canoe clubs are aiming for us. There are a good bunch of paddlers out there.

"Any given day, it can be taken away from anybody."

Manu O Ke Kai is also expected to contend for the title in the AAA division, which is for clubs competing in more than 25 races. Manu O Ke Kai lost by just two points to Kane'ohe at the Laulima Regatta on July 4.

"Manu is a strong club," Anderson said. "Lokahi is a good club. You never know when they'll come back."

Two clubs that went undefeated in the regular season will look to defend their titles. Koa Kai ran through the AA division unscathed while the Waikiki Beach Boys have dominated the A division behind its women's crews. (Clubs in AA compete in 13 to 24 events; clubs in A compete in 12 or less events).

"They know they can do it," Beach Boys coach Sean Monahan said. "It's just matter of putting it together, keeping their heads strong in the race and paddling as a crew and not as individuals."

The Beach Boys are undefeated in the women's freshmen and mixed open 6 races. Sue Brown, a paddler for the Beach Boys, said the women's crews have been successful because they have been "staying positive and as a cohesive group" the entire season.

"We're really one group this year and that has helped a lot," Brown said.

"They got a pretty good clique going on," Monahan added. "They train together outside the canoe and they're all good friends. That helps. It's not the most important thing but it definitely helps. There have been no attitudes this year."

Viernes said it will take hard work and the right combinations in the canoe for any club to come out on top.

Anderson feels the same. "Everybody pretty much knows what they're going to do already. We just got to train hard and see what's the outcome," he said. "The more you focus, train hard and pay attention to your coach, the outcome will be in your favor."

Reach Stanley Lee at slee@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-8533.