Kane'ohe wins watered down Hui Wa'a regatta
|Adam Ahai Memorial Regatta photo gallery|
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dayton Morinaga
Numbers were down but spirits were up at the opening regatta of the Na 'Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a season yesterday.
Kane'ohe Canoe Club once again appears to be the team to beat, as it scored 81 points to win the Adam Ahai Memorial Regatta at Ke'ehi Lagoon. Kane'ohe is the three-time defending Hui Wa'a champion.
"I had no idea what to expect because everybody had questions," Kane'ohe head coach Clint Anderson said. "This is the first showing of the year, so everybody is going to make their moves after this. But I'm happy we got this first one."
Much of the talk at yesterday's regatta focused on the reduced number of paddlers.
Several clubs on O'ahu lost paddlers because of heavy rain and subsequent contaminated water conditions in March.
"This is the worst I've ever seen it," Anderson said. "We lost quite a bit of paddlers and we had a late start because of the (contaminated) water. But you can see it's not just us. It's everybody."
Hui Wa'a president Tambry Young said around 1,100 paddlers are registered to participate in Hui Wa'a regattas this summer.
"There's a big drop-off in kids," she said. "But we're seeing more adults this year."
Kane'ohe is once again expected to have a strong youth program, despite a drop in paddlers. Kane'ohe won 10 of the 38 races yesterday, including six victories in the youth races.
"We brought in a lot of new kids, some who got to paddle for the first time today," Kane'ohe assistant coach Bobby Perreira said. "And they did a little better than we expected. It's about making the most of what you have."
Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i won three races and placed second with 55 points.
Koa Kai won seven races to win the AA Division (for medium-sized clubs) with 47 points.
The Koa Kai crew of Andrew Gomes, Irwin Ross, Paul Amoy, Steve Holbrook, Douglas Holdt and Dave Randall won the prestigious men's senior race.
Koa Kai is one of the clubs that had to relocate after 48 million gallons of untreated sewage was diverted into the Ala Wai Canal in late March.
Club president Joe Kim said Koa Kai will return to practicing at Magic Island this week in an effort to gain more paddlers. Warning signs of contaminated water at Magic Island were removed by the state last week.
The club had been practicing at Ke'ehi Lagoon for the past two months.
"Hopefully a lot of the people who couldn't make it out (to Ke'ehi Lagoon) will come back," Kim said.
Waikiki Beachboys won five races to win the A Division (for small clubs). Included in the victories was a dominating performance in the women's senior race.
The crew of Kelsa Teeters, Erin Offenhauser, Dana Gorecki, Sue Brown, Andrea Messer and Cherie Lee completed the 1 1/2-mile course in 13 minutes, 2.49 seconds. The second-place crew came in more than a minute later.
"We try to race the clock and just improve with every race," said Sean Monahan, who coaches the Waikiki Beachboys women.
According to Hui Wa'a rules, each club must field at least six crews to participate in the regattas. Kamehameha and Kumulokahi Elks each entered the minimum six crews yesterday.
"The big clubs can lose paddlers and still be OK," Kumulokahi Elks head coach Hiram Mano'i Jr. said. "But the small clubs like us, where do we go? We're balancing just to survive."
If a club cannot field at least six crews in a Hui Wa'a regatta, it is placed on a three-year probation. If it cannot increase its paddler roster within those three years, the club is then considered inactive.
"We made it, barely," Kamehameha head coach Sam Ahai said. "This first (regatta) was the one we were worried about the most. A lot of our kids are finishing up school, graduating. We're counting on more of them coming out."
There are 16 clubs in the Hui Wa'a organization this year, but several races yesterday featured fewer than five canoes.
"It's kind of sad because you want to see the participation," Koa Kai's Kim said. "And you want to challenge the best, so hopefully all the clubs can pick up more paddlers."
Yesterday was the first of nine Hui Wa'a regattas. The next is scheduled for Sunday at Hale'iwa Beach Park.
The O'ahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association will open its season Sunday at Ke'ehi Lagoon.
Lei Endo is the contact person to join I Mua Canoe Club. She can be reached at 258-1269 or email@example.com. An incorrect phone number was listed in the May 17 Advertiser.
Reach Dayton Morinaga at firstname.lastname@example.org.