Tresnak rides rough waters to championship
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dayton Morinaga
With the competition out of sight, Karel Tresnak Jr. went out of his way to win the one-person canoe division of the Kanaka Ikaika O'ahu Championships yesterday.
More than 170 paddlers participated in the race, with most of the entries in the one-person canoe division.
Tresnak completed the 16-mile course from Makai Pier to Kaimana Beach in 1 hour, 46 minutes, 58 seconds, for his second consecutive O'ahu title.
"It was pretty exciting out there — a lot of waves that could definitely hurt you or help you," he said.
Strong trade winds and an east-shore swell helped push the paddlers along the course.
The conditions also made it difficult for the paddlers to see each other, so Tresnak said he took "a little course gamble" early in the race.
"I went like a mile outside of everybody," he said. "And after Hawai'i Kai, it seemed like the tide turned and the current started running with me."
By the time the conditions mellowed off of Diamond Head, Tresnak had a slight lead over Manny Kulukulualani.
"We couldn't see each other; we had no visual because the conditions were kind of big," Kulukulualani said. "But it was close. I was happy with my race. To be that close to (Tresnak) is always a good sign."
Kulukulualani placed second in 1:47:20, and Maryknoll High School senior Patrick Dolan was third in 1:50:12.
Tresnak is widely considered the favorite in races when the conditions are rough.
"Last year, he was beating us by minutes, so it's getting closer," Kulukulualani said. "The field is getting better."
Nalu Kukea won the men's surfski division and was the first overall finisher in 1:43:52. Like Tresnak, Kukea said he was not aware of his closest pursuers until the stretch run.
"I try not to look around too much and I find I do better," he said. "I kind of just focus on the waves and what they're doing."
Kukea has not been racing competitively for the past few years because of a shoulder injury. However, he said yesterday's victory may inspire him to start a serious training regimen.
"I've just been doing races when it's windy and rough," said Kukea, 35. "Now that I've been doing decent in the last couple (races), I probably should start training a little harder."
Mark Sandvold placed second in 1:44:54, and Stuart Gaessner was third in 1:47:37.
Dane Ward won the women's one-person canoe division in 2:15:11 for her second island championship in as many weeks. Last week, she won her division in the Maui Championships.
Arlene Holzman was second yesterday in 2:17:30, and Jane McKee was third in 2:18:38.
Most of the elite paddlers raced along the 16-mile "long course," but there was also an 8-mile "short course."
Yesterday's race was the first of several key events for solo paddlers over the next few weeks.
Among the races coming up are: a Maui-to-Moloka'i solo race on April 29; the Kanaka Ikaika State Championships on April 30; the Moloka'i-to-O'ahu relay race on May 7; the Kaua'i relay race on May 13; and the Moloka'i-to-O'ahu solo race on May 21.
Reach Dayton Morinaga at email@example.com.