Tresnak, Bartlett paddle to record wins
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dayton Morinaga
The best of one-person canoe paddling got better yesterday.
Karel Tresnak Jr. of Kailua and Lauren Bartlett of Kula, Maui, added to their already-impressive collections of paddling records with record-breaking victories yesterday.
Tresnak was the overall winner and Bartlett won the women's division of the Steinlager Kaiwi Channel Solo OC1 World Championships.
The 32-mile race from Kaluako'i Beach, Moloka'i, to Koko Marina, O'ahu, is considered the world championship of long-distance paddling for one-person canoes (also known as OC1s).
"It was hard — conditions weren't that great," said Tresnak, 27. "It felt like a lot of work. I'm really shocked at how fast we were moving."
Tresnak finished in a record time of 3 hours, 38 minutes, 3 seconds, to win the race for a record seventh time. It topped the previous fastest time of 3:42:24, which he set in 2006.
"It just seemed like everything was working for me," Tresnak said. "And I think the competition being what it is now, it makes everybody faster."
Maui's Kai Bartlett led for the first hour of the race, but finished in a distant second with a time of 3:45:50.
Tresnak and Kai Bartlett have combined to win the last 10 OC1 Moloka'i-to-O'ahu world titles. Bartlett won it in 2002, '05 and '07, and yesterday was his third runner-up finish to Tresnak.
"I was really impressed with (Tresnak) today," Bartlett said. "He caught me and then he took off. And I mean he took off like a bat out of hell."
Bartlett won last year's race under grueling conditions, and Tresnak said he thought it was headed that way yesterday.
"An hour into the race, Kai came up to us and went by like we were standing still," Tresnak said. "It kind of reminded me of last year. I was like 'Oh no, Kai's going to run away with it again.' "
But unlike last year's flat Kaiwi Channel, yesterday's ocean provided some 2- to 4-foot swells.
"Every now and then you could connect the (wave) bumps and go for 100 to 200 yards," Tresnak said. "The hard part was working to get on the bumps."
In short, Bartlett led after the first hour, it was close between him and Tresnak after the second hour, then Tresnak broke away in the third hour.
"I was having a really good surf run early, then I don't know ... the wheels fell off," Bartlett said. "After that, it was survival mode for me. I was happy to hang on to second."
Danny Ching of California stayed near Tresnak and Bartlett for the first two hours, and eventually finished third in 3:48:42.
Maui Kjeldsen from Kaua'i was fourth in 3:50:16, and Australia's Greg Long was fifth in 3:51:40.
Rounding out the top 10 were, in order, Peter Konohia, Thibert Lussiaa, Tapaarii Worthington, Aaron Creps and Mael Carey.
Tresnak won on a "Zephyr" model canoe created by his father.
"It got me into every (wave) bump I wanted," Tresnak said. "I was really happy with the performance."
Tresnak hinted that he may take a break from competitive paddling next season, although he has also said that in past years.
"There's so much work that goes into it," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if this is the last one for me for a while. But we'll see."
Manny Kulukulualani of Kuli'ou'ou placed 14th overall in 4:00:17. He also served as the race director for the event.
This year marked the first time that the OC1 paddlers held their own world championship race. In previous years, it was held in conjunction with the surfski world championships.
"It was kind of weird not to have the surfskis out there," Tresnak said. "But at the same time, it really felt like our own race. In past years, we could gauge off the surfskis, but this year, when you were in the lead, you were in the lead. It was awesome, actually. Hat's off to Manny for pulling this off."
Lauren Bartlett, who is Kai's wife, won the women's division for a record fifth time in a record time of 4:20:47. It shattered the previous women's mark of 4:28:31, which she set in 2002.
"I was actually around a couple guys that I normally don't see, so I figured I must be having a good day," said Bartlett, 28. "I kept asking where my (women's) competition was, and nobody really knew."
That's because the rest of the women were way behind.
Emili Janchevis of Maui was second in 4:38:57 — more than two miles behind Bartlett. Alana Goo-Frazier of Kaua'i was third in 4:42:00.
Bartlett has won the women's division in convincing fashion in five of the last seven years, and she did not participate in 2005 (maternity break) and 2006 (training with the USA national kayak team).
Australia's Lisa Curry-Kenny, who placed second last year, did not participate this year.
Bartlett placed 34th overall, beating more than 40 male entries. More than 90 paddlers participated in the race.
Tresnak and Bartlett each received $5,000.
"I'll probably pay off some of the expenses for this race, then throw a party with what ever is left," Tresnak said.
Bartlett added: "I think giving that much prize money, and running a race just for (OC1s) is huge for the sport. It shows how much it has grown."
John Foti of Lanikai finished 15th overall and won the masters 40-older division with a time of 4:00:57.
Grant Hughes of Australia was first in the masters 50-older division in 4:38:09.
Puni Freitas of the Big Island was first in the 17-younger division in 4:33:20. At 16, he was the youngest paddler in the field.
Most of the paddlers from yesterday's race will do another Moloka'i-to-O'ahu race this weekend.
The Rhino Kaiwi Channel Relay World Championship race on Sunday will feature two-person teams paddling in OC1s, but using a relay format. While one paddler is in the canoe, the other follows in an escort boat. They switch positions every 10 to 20 minutes.
The Epic Kayaks Moloka'i World Championships — the world championship race for solo surfskis — is May 18.
Reach Dayton Morinaga at firstname.lastname@example.org.