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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, July 17, 2006

Kailua paddles to fourth win

John D. Kaupiko Regatta photo gallery

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Waikiki Surf Club's Elizabeth Leong, left, is congratulated by novice coach Al Streck after competing in the girls 15 half-mile race.

Photos by DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Kailua Canoe Club cruised to the finish line to capture the men's novice B half-mile race yesterday in the John D. Kaupiko Regatta at Ke'ehi Lagoon. Kailua won its fourth regatta of the O'ahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association season, with Hui Nalu finishing second.

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Tina Roque cheers on Hui Nalu's boys 15 crew, which won its race at the John D. Kaupiko Regatta at Ke'ehi Lagoon.

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The Kailua Canoe Club has quietly emerged as the team to beat in the O'ahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association.

Barely, though.

On a day when it didn't expect to win, Kailua won the John D. Kaupiko Regatta yesterday at Ke'ehi Lagoon.

"We were moving some paddlers around, trying to qualify other crews," Kailua head coach Kawai Mahoe said. "So if we didn't win this regatta, that was fine. But we still ended up winning, so everything worked out perfect."

Kailua scored 77 points to win its fourth regatta of the season.

Host club Hui Nalu was second with 70, Lanikai was third with 65, and Outrigger fourth with 64.

Kailua raced to an early lead in the youth races, and then held off the other big clubs the rest of the day.

"Our kids did an exceptional job again," Mahoe said. "They might not win every race, but they score a lot of points for us, that's the main thing."

Kailua won eight races, including three in the youth divisions. The Kailua girls 12-younger and girls 18-younger crews remained undefeated this season with victories yesterday.

Chrystal Hogue, coach of the girls 12-younger crew, said discipline is a key for the Kailua kids.

"They all come to practice ready to work," Hogue said. "And in the 12s, we have girls who have never paddled before this year. They somehow come together on race day and do a fantastic job."

Kailua amassed 33 points in the 13 youth races.

"I try to teach the girls that they are an important part of this club, and they seem to respond to it," Hogue said.

Hui Nalu had its best showing of the season by finishing just seven points behind Kailua.

"We really focus on this regatta because it is our regatta," Hui Nalu head coach Reney Ching said. "So our energy level was really high today, and we got great efforts from everybody from our kids all the way to our masters."

The battle for second place was close all day, and it came down to the final two races of the regatta.

After 37 races, Lanikai had 63 points, Hui Nalu had 62, and Outrigger 61.

Hui Nalu edged ahead by placing second in the women's 40-older race, and then winning the final race of the day, the men's 40-older.

"Awesome finish to the day," Ching said. "We had a refocusing as a club on Friday. We brought all the adults together and talked about what it meant to be a part of Hui Nalu. I think it paid off today."

Lanikai's 65 points was its lowest total of the season. However, many of Lanikai's best crews were split up yesterday to help strengthen other crews.

Yesterday was the last regular-season regatta of the season, so many clubs shuffled paddlers around in an effort qualify crews that are "on the bubble" for the upcoming state championship regatta on Aug. 5.

The OHCRA Championship Regatta will be held Sunday at Ke'ehi Lagoon, and that will be the final opportunity for crews to qualify for the state championship regatta.

In any case, the 15 points separating the first and fourth place clubs yesterday was noted by those four clubs.

"At the beginning of the day, I was keeping track of our points and Lanikai's," Mahoe said. "Then somebody told me Hui Nalu was right there, so I started tracking them. Then Outrigger came into the picture. I said this is going to be a lot of work for us."

Hui Nalu's Ching said: "I think Kailua is strong and steady, but it's still up for grabs. It's exciting for the clubs to see it so close."

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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