Riders on the storm
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Jimmy Austin and Manny Kulukulualani weathered a storm — and a pair of Australians — to win the Kaiwi Channel Relay paddling race yesterday.
Austin and Kulukulualani completed the 40.2-mile course from Kaluako'i, Moloka'i, to Magic Island, O'ahu, in 5 hours, 33 minutes, 39 seconds.
Maui paddlers Lauren Bartlett and Andrea Moller won the women's division with a time of 6:25:49.
Stormy conditions and an unfavorable current contributed to the relatively slow crossing of the Kaiwi Channel. The winning time was nearly an hour off the course record.
"At the start, it was good," Austin said. "Then all of a sudden there was this huge rain squall and you couldn't see anything, and the swells were going two different directions. It was tough."
The race requires two paddlers to alternate in a one-person canoe (also known as OC-1). When one teammate paddles, the other follows in an escort boat. They can switch positions anytime throughout the course.
Austin and Kulukulualani are both from Honolulu and started training together this year. They used a "Pueo" model canoe by Kamanu Composites yesterday.
"We know each other's speed so we knew what to expect," Austin said. "But we were screaming at each other the whole way because it was so close."
Austin noted that Tahitians have dominated the Moloka'i Hoe for the past few years, and California's Danny Ching won the OC-1 solo world championship two weeks ago.
"We wanted to keep something in Hawai'i," Austin said. "We were telling each other we can't let the Aussies get the relay."
The Australian duo of Travis Grant and Mike Murray placed second with a time of 5:34:51. It is the best finish by an Australian team in the 21-year history of the race.
"We're stoked with this," Murray said. "We trained hard for it, but we know the Hawaiians have the advantage in the Channel. We were stoked to be as close as we were."
Austin and Kulukulualani had the early lead, but got sidetracked in the rain storm.
"You couldn't even see (O'ahu), so we just turned down thinking we were on the right line," Austin said. "But when the squall cleared, we saw that we were too far in and so we had to get back out."
By then, Grant and Murray made ground.
As Kulukulualani put it: "When the rain started coming down, I would say we were in front by about 200 yards. When the sun came out and the clouds parted, they were right next to us. After that, it was a race to the finish."
Austin and Kulukulualani were alternating every 20 minutes at the start of the race. By the stretch run, they were alternating every eight minutes.
"It was such a long race, you just got more and more exhausted," Kulukulualani said.
The Australians also expressed fatigue, noting that they had a team they were trying to catch and another they were trying to hold off.
The Hawai'i team of Luke Evslin and Simeon Ke-Paloma stayed near the lead pack the entire race and placed third with a time of 5:36:14.
"Every time we'd get up close to Manny and Jimmy, they'd get away," the Australian Murray said. "But we could never let up because Luke and Simeon were battling behind us at the same time."
Mael Carey and Tapa Worthington placed fourth, and Aaron Napoleon/Mike Mills-Thom were fifth.
Napoleon and Mills-Thom are both over 40, so they were first in the masters 40-older division.
Maui's Kai Bartlett, who won the relay race last year with Mike Judd, placed eighth yesterday with new partner Matt DuBrule.
It is the first relay title for Austin and Kulukulualani.
In the women's division, Bartlett and Moller won for the third time.
"It was a tough race, very hard conditions," Moller said. "It was like paddling into the storm. We were just trying to stay near the guys around us."
Bartlett has won a record seven relay titles — three with Moller and four with different partners.
"When ever you paddle with Lauren, she makes it fun," Moller said. "That was our goal today — have fun. Of course, we wanted to win, too, but we had fun, so that was the main thing."
Bartlett and Moller used a "Pegasus" model canoe built by Kai Bartlett, who is Lauren's husband.
The team of Madisen Minkel and Claire Townsend placed second in the women's division in 6:36:25.
There was also a division for two-person canoes (also known as OC-2). In that division, each team could have four paddlers, but only two could paddle in the canoe at any given time.
The team of Raven Aipa, Carlton Helm, Bill Pratt and Evan Rhodes actually crossed the finish line first — ahead of Austin and Kulukulualani — with a time of 5:32:30.
More than 100 teams entered the race, equating to more than 200 paddlers. For complete results visit www.paahawaii.com.
OC-1 Men Overall
1, Jimmy Austin/Manny Kulukulualani, 5:32:30. 2, Mike Murray/Travis Grant, 5:34:51. 3, Luke Evslin/Simeon Ke-Paloma, 5:36:14. 4, Tapa Worthington/Mael Carey, 5:40:16. 5, Mike Mills-Thom/Aaron Napoleon, 5:41:02. 6, Sean Kaawa/Kaeo Abbey, 5:41:32. 7, Thibert Lussiaa/Ikaika Hauanio, 5:42:15. 8, Kai Bartlett/Matt DuBrule, 5:42:58. 9, Kea Pa'iaina/Aaron Creps, 5:43:23. 10, Justin Watts/Makana Denton, 5:43:36. 11, Peter Dorries/Matt Carter, 5:45:13. 12, Kekoa Cramer/JB Guard, 5:45:49. 14, Jay Griffin/Adam Treinen-Aea, 5:52:02. 15, Kelly Foster/Kalei Kahookele, 5:53:17. 16, Blayne Fujita/Sepa Napoleon, 5:53:29. 17, Keola Wright/Kekoa Kau, 5:54:42. 18, C.J. Day/Alfred Van Gieson, 5:56:12. 19, Jeremy Cole/Alan Goto, 5:56:43. 20, Michael Pedersen/Tim Twigg-Smith, 5:56:57. 21, Justin Banfield/Mike Gomes, 5:57:03. 22, John Foti/Nick Foti, 5:58:23. 23, Gavin Hanoa/Franco Arango, 5:59:14. 24, Julian Wicker/Chris Tanaka, 6:04:57. 25, Nathan Purll/Jeremy Miller, 6:06:10. 26, Eli Hedani/Keku Nae'ole, 6:06:18. 27, Bryan Mack/Byron Ho, 6:07:02. 28, Kirk Ziegler/Matt Neal, 6:09:18. 29, Grant Hughes/Kenny Denton, 6:10:11. 30, Brett Fillmore/Eckhardt Diestel, 6:10:41. 31, Chris Tseu/Donovan Leandro, 6:11:08. 32, Chad Lima/Asa Ward, 6:11:20. 33, Chris Kelly/Marty Strecker, 6:13:15. 34, Ryan Van Gieson/Dayne Van Gieson, 6:15:23. 35, Deane Salter/Kealakai Hussey, 6:16:32. 36, Bobby Yoza/Chris Caldeira, 6:17:01. 37, Sam Alama/Tomas Schlotman, 6:19:46. 38, Justin Akana/Nahina Lee Loy, 6:20:03. 39, Gary Samura/Harold Akeo, 6:22:52. 40, Brian Amantiao/Charlie Tantog, 6:23:35.
OC-1 Women Overall
1, Lauren Bartlett/Andrea Moller, 6:25:49. 2, Madisen Minkel/Claire Townsend, 6:36:25. 3, Tania Moohin/Kylee Muldoon, 6:37:22. 4, Lisa Curry/Linda Dow, 6:47:19. 5, Jane McKee/Paula Crabb, 6:49:15. 6, Lori Nakamura/Savannah McCue, 6:50:14. 7, Tayte Brock/Nikki Radford, 6:53:25. 8, Andrea Messer/Dana Gorecki, 6:56:08. 9, Lindsey Shank/Jennifer Polcer, 6:58:53. 10, Jessie Mills-Thom/Talia Gangini, 7:04:22.
OC-1 Men Masters 40-older
1, Mike Mills-Thom/Aaron Napoleon, 5:41:02. 2, Michael Pedersen/Tim Twigg-Smith, 5:56:57. 3, Bryan Mack/Byron Ho, 6:07:02. 4, Brett Fillmore/Eckhardt Diestel, 6:10:41. 5, Chris Kelly/Marty Strecker, 6:13:15.
OC-1 Men Masters 50-older
1, Grant Hughes/Kenny Denton, 6:10:11. 2, Sam Alama/Tomas Schlotman, 6:19:46. 3, Grant Kojima/Scott Ferry, 6:25:53. 4, Bob Rocheleau/Billy Robello, 6:25:56. 5, Bruce Blankenfeld/Greg Poole, 6:27:59.
OC-1 Men Masters 60-older
1, Gary Samura/Harold Akeo, 6:22:52. 2, Greg Davis/Biggie Laura, 6:37:00. 3, Nappy Napoleon/Gaylord Wilcox, 6:57:34.
1, Arlene Holzman/Fred Delos Santos, 6:22:48. 2, Mikiala Ramler/Hayden Ramler, 6:22:56. 3, Andy Cummings/Anna Mathisen, 6:28:05.
1, Raven Aipa/Evan Rhodes/Carlton Helm/Bill Pratt, 5:32:30. 2, Junya McGurn/Dave Kalama/Tyson Kubo/Peter Konohia, 5:39:36. 3, Kyle Morikawa/Joe/Mike Hangai/Kai Chong, 5:45:19.