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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, May 19, 2008

Tahiti paddler on top again

Photo gallery: Epic Kayaks World Championships

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Lewis Laughlin of Tahiti said the "comfortable" conditions light winds, small ocean swells and hot weather probably contributed to his victory in the Epic Kayaks Moloka'i World Championships.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Lauren Bartlett

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It was a Tahiti piti for Lewis Laughlin yesterday.

Piti is the Tahitian word for two, and Laughlin made it two victories in a row in the Epic Kayaks Moloka'i World Championships yesterday.

He completed the 32-mile course from Kaluako'i Beach, Moloka'i, to Maunalua Bay, O'ahu, in 3 hours, 40 minutes, 26 seconds.

Light winds, small ocean swells, and a sweltering sun contributed to a relatively slow crossing of the Kaiwi Channel. It also contributed to Laughlin's victory.

"The wind was fine, but it kind of dropped a little bit at the end," said Laughlin, 38. "So it was a bit hot, and it suited me very well, I think. It's probably similar to what I'm used to back home. That makes a difference in long distance be comfortable."

The Moloka'i event is considered the world championship of long-distance ocean racing for solo surfskis. Last year, Laughlin became the first Tahitian competitor to win it.

"It's always good to win anywhere in the world," he said. "Especially this one. This is the biggest one."

Last year's course covered a record 37 miles, and Laughlin won by a convincing margin. It was reverted to 32 miles this year, and the top four finishers crossed within 2 minutes, 5 seconds of each other.

Hank McGregor of South Africa placed runner-up to Laughlin for a second consecutive year. His time yesterday was 3:41:05.

Just like last year, McGregor was in the lead as he approached East O'ahu.

"I was pretty much in front the whole way until the last five (kilometers), and I hit sort of a bad patch," McGregor said. "I was pretty far north, maybe a bit too far. But that's the way it goes. This is my second crossing, and to get second (place) again is not so bad."

Tim Jacobs of Australia placed third in 3:41:44. Nine-time former champion Dean Gardiner of Australia finished fourth in 3:42:11.

South Africa's Oscar Chalupsky, who owns a record 11 Moloka'i World Championships, placed seventh in 3:49:11.

"It wasn't the big wind and swell everybody wanted," Chalupsky said. "And I said before, if it's a flat race, watch for Lewis again."

A record 133 paddlers participated in the race.

Laughlin said he trains for the Moloka'i race by completing three-hour solo practices in Tahiti.

"I train by myself at home, I never train with anybody," he said. "So when I'm alone, it doesn't bother me."

From 1997 through 2006, Laughlin placed in the top 10 of every Moloka'i World Championships. If last year's victory was his breakthrough, yesterday was his affirmation.

"I think I'm training less," he said. "But maybe I am smarter."

Kailua's Stuart Gaessner placed 17th overall and was the first finisher from Hawai'i with a time of 4:07:30.

"Not bad for a 46-year-old," he said.

Gaessner said moderate swells in the middle of the Kaiwi Channel provided rides of 50 to 100 yards, but the start and the finish featured grueling conditions.

Mark Sandvold was second from Hawai'i in 4:10:24, and Steve Kelly was third in 4:13:13.

The last paddler from Hawai'i to win the Moloka'i World Championships was Kalai Handley in 1978.

"The international competition is unreal," Gaessner said. "Those guys are pros. Mark, Sean (Monahan) and I are weekend warriors, so we do the best we can."


Lauren Bartlett of Kula, Maui, is now the undisputed queen of long-distance paddling.

She won the women's division yesterday, just three weeks after winning the women's division of the one-person canoe (OC1) world championship race.

Her winning time yesterday was 4:21:28.

Making it more impressive, she started practicing for the surfski race a week ago, and only because a friend allowed her to borrow a new surfski.

"I got the (surfski) on Sunday," she said. "I paddled it Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. By Wednesday ... I didn't think I was going to do (the race)."

Bartlett said she was still asking other paddlers for advice about the surfski 10 minutes before the race. She said she flipped into the water once during the race while trying to adjust the seat.

"My first goal was to finish because I haven't spent that much time on this (surfski) or kayaking in the last three years," said Bartlett, 28.

Bartlett represented the United States in flat-water kayaking during the 2004 Olympics, but has since focused on canoe paddling.

Yesterday, she became the second person to win Moloka'i world championships on both a surfski and OC1, and the first to win it both in the same year. Kelly Fey won the female surfski title from 1994 through '99, then won the OC1 title in 2000 and '01.

Alexa Cole of South Africa placed second yesterday in 4:31:09 nearly 10 minutes behind Bartlett.


Although the OC1 world championship race was held three weeks ago, there was an OC1 division in yesterday's race.

California's Danny Ching placed first in 4:17:16. He placed third at the OC1 world championship race.

"As far as prestige, the other race (three weeks ago) was the race for the OC1 guys," Ching said. "But any time you cross that channel it's a prestigious race, and I've never won a Moloka'i race before so I'll take it."

Aaron Abbey placed second in 4:19:14, and Jack Roney was third in 4:23:30.

Karel Tresnak Jr., who won the OC1 world championship race, did not enter yesterday's event.

Andrea Moller was the first female to finish on an OC1 in 5:19:32.



1, Lewis Laughlin, 3:40:26. 2, Hank McGregor, 3:41:05. 3, Tim Jacobs, 3:41:44. 4, Dean Gardiner, 3:42:11. 5, Dawid Mocke, 3:46:26. 6, Herman Chalupsky, 3:47:36. 7, Oscar Chalupsky, 3:47:36. 8, Martin Kenny, 3:50:02. 9, Dave Kissane, 3:50:40. 10, Kirk Jarrott, 3:51:27. 11, Steve Woods, 3:52:19. 12, Brett Monghan, 3:56:31. 13, Kane Heussner, 3:58:05. 14, Damien Daley, 4:02:33. 15, Brad Stokes, 4:03:23. 16, Steve Coulter, 4:07:15. 17, Stu Gaessner, 4:07:30. 18, David Provan, 4:08:19. 20, Trent Robinson, 4:09:38. 21, Barry Lewin, 4:09:48. 22, Mark Sandvold, 4:10:24. 23, Paul Wilford, 4:11:16. 24, Jeff LeMarseny, 4:12:03. 25, Steve Kelly, 4:13:13.

26, Mark Anderson, 4:13:35. 27, Gilles Guedikian, 4:14:38. 28, Haydn Holmes, 4:15:39. 29, Greg Barton, 4:16:12. 30, Dave Beament, 4:16:44. 31, Peter Cole, 4:17:32. 32, Charles Judd, 4:18:29. 33, Barry Franks, 4:18:58. 34, Sean Monahan, 4:20:35. 35, Matt Thistlethwaite, 4:22:18. 36, Andrew Paul, 4:22:34. 37, Paul Navarro, 4:22:35. 38, Carter Johnson, 4:22:47. 39, Pierre Ferrand, 4:22:54. 40, Patrick Moore, 4:23:01. 41, Cameron Marshall, 4:23:01. 42, Michael Murphy, 4:26:22. 43, John Hoogsteden, 4:27:16. 44, Andrew Dunstan, 4:27:38. 45, Adam McKane, 4:27:51. 46, Julien Torregrossa, 4:28:02. 47, Jean Luc Eycshenne, 4:29:23. 48, Geoff Graf, 4:29:49. 49, Noah Hawk, 4:30:19. 50, Karl Treacher, 4:30:45.


1, Lauren Bartlett, 4:21:28. 2, Alexa Cole, 4:31:09. 3, Katie Pocock, 4:32:10. 4, Maggie Twigg-Smith, 4:43:29. 5, Sue Dorries, 5:07:28. 6, Mary Gumbert, 5:42:20. 7, Frey Hoffmeister, 6:15:50. 8, Itsuko Oda, 7:02:28.


1, Danny Ching, 4:17:16. 2, Aaron Abbey, 4:19:14. 3, Jack Roney, 4:23:30. 4, Mark Frazier, 4:24:42. 5, Lucas Gamble, 4:29:13. 6, Kamehameha Tanarii, 4:32:17. 7, Florian Teaurai, 4:32:34. 8, Steven Blyth, 4:36:36. 9, Patrick Erwin, 4:38:06. 10, Carlos Gomes, 4:41:43. 11, Adrian Hybner, 4:43:17. 12, Derek Schrotter, 4:47:08. 13, Takuji Araki, 4:48:15. 14, Justin Banfield, 4:50:04. 15, Tyson Kubo, 4:50:12. 16, Jonathon Hollins, 4:50:38. 17, Bastien Hginana, 4:54:51. 18, Michael Delima, 4:56:53. 19, Larry Cain, 5:08:54. 20, Hiroaki Takahashi, 5:11:39.


1, Andrea Moller, 5:19:32. 2, Tomoe Yasu, 7:41:17.

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com.