Kamanu goes channel surfing Kāne'ohe gets off to fast start
• Photo gallery: Molokai to Oahu paddleboard race
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Who knows? Fifty years from now, Team Kamanu could become one of those revered names in the sport of outrigger canoe paddling.
This much is certain — Team Kamanu became the first winner of the ingenious PA'A 'Eono Hoe canoe race yesterday.
"There's no question in my mind that this race could become huge," Team Kamanu steersman Jimmy Austin said. "Everybody had a lot of questions and concerns going into it, and it turned out phenomenal."
The 32-mile course started at Papohaku, Moloka'i, and finished at Maunalua Bay, O'ahu.
It featured six-person canoes, much like the Moloka'i Hoe or Na Wahine O Ke Kai races. But in the 'Eono Hoe, the same six paddlers were required to start and finish the race (in other long-distance races, each team is allowed to have three or four relief paddlers available in an escort boat).
In effect, it was a race of endurance and innovation.
In another unique race rule, teams were allowed to use canoes with "open" designs.
Team Kamanu, for example, unveiled a new canoe that featured a sleek design and weighed 200 pounds less than a standard Hawaiian racing canoe.
"The light canoe really made a difference," Austin said. "The first two hours, we were running down one (wave) after another, after another. It was so much fun."
Team Kamanu completed the course in 3 hours, 56 minutes, 40 seconds.
Members of the crew were Austin, Justin Watts, Bill Pratt, Luke Evslin, Travis Grant and Scott Hendricks. They dominated the race, finishing almost two miles ahead of the rest of the field.
Team Livestrong also used a new-design canoe and placed second in 4:09:10.
Team PA'A — paddling a traditional canoe — placed third in 4:12:36.
"I suppose you could asterisk this because we used a lighter boat," Team Kamanu's Pratt said. "But it shows that the sport is moving forward, and that's what I think is going to attract more teams in the future."
A total of 27 teams participated in yesterday's race, including eight women's teams.
Because of the no-relief rule, race director Manny Kulukulualani allowed only experienced paddlers and teams to enter the inaugural event. Sure enough, all 27 teams that entered the race were able to finish.
As Pratt put it: "There may not have been that many crews, but the quality of paddlers is certainly here."
The teams that did participate were treated to challenging conditions. Waves in the Kaiwi Channel were estimated to be in the 6- to 10-foot range.
"We got on some bombs," Austin said. "It was almost like canoe-surfing at Mākaha."
An outgoing tide off East O'ahu made the last half of the race difficult for the paddlers.
Team Livestrong, with paddlers from the Big Island, passed Team PA'A late in the course to take second place.
"The faster you go, the more fun it is," Team Livestrong's Bruce Ayau said. "That's what this race was about — trying something new to see how much faster you can go."
Mike Field, who steered the Team Livestrong canoe, added: "I just think this sport needed something fresh, and this is it."
Kulukulualani organized the race and also paddled on the third-place Team PA'A crew. Prior to the race, his biggest concern was the safety of the paddlers.
After yesterday's results, he is confident that the event can continue — and thrive.
"It was challenging, that's for sure," Kulukulualani said. "But I thought it was going to be harder, physically. Some of the (canoes) were going really fast."
Because of the success of the "open" designed canoes, Kulukulualani said he expects to see even more new canoes next year.
"I would think there's a better idea of what can be done now, so it'll be interesting to see what the builders come up with," he said. "I'd definitely like to try one next year."
In the women's division, Free Agents won with a time of 4:55:36. The crew featured paddlers from O'ahu and the Big Island.
Members of the crew were Arlene Holzman, Madisen Minkel, Claire Townsend, Michelle Arnold, Grace Emanuel and Sarah Van De Vanter.
"The water was the biggest I've seen in the Channel," said Van De Vanter, who steered the Free Agents canoe. "We had waves break over the entire canoe."
She noted that there was some hesitation among the female paddlers prior to the race, so to win it in arduous conditions was a bonus.
"We were all scared and nervous (on Saturday), so I think we went into it with our hearts in the right place — just wanting to finish safely," she said.
Waikīkī Beachboys placed second in the women's division with a time of 5:04:33.
Both Free Agents and Waikīkī Beachboys used standard canoes.
The Kailua Masters 50 crew used a new-design canoe and placed third in the women's division in 5:18:38. All the paddlers in that crew were 50 or older: Paula Crabb, Kathy Erwin, Lois Hewlett, Donna Meyer, Ann Farrell and Carleen Ornellas.
1, Team Kamanu, 3:56:40. 2, Team Livestrong, 4:09:10. 3, Team PA'A, 4:12:36. 4, OCP Mafia, 4:17:48. 5, Outrigger, 4:20:02. 6, Lanikai, 4:24:14. 7, Hawaiian Kanaktion, 4:30:08. 8, Na Molokama, 4:34:52. 9, Hui Lanakila, 4:37:10. 10, Kai Aniani, 4:38:45. 11, Kukui'ula, 4:39:52. 12, Kukui'ula Masters, 4:40:23. 13, Puna, 4:45:15. 14, Hawaiian, 4:53:25. 15, Kailua Masters 40, 4:54:39. 16, Team Lanikai Juice, 4:55:19. 17, Team Hawai'i/Kailua, 4:59:53. 18, Imua, 5:10:56. 19, Na Kai 'Ewalu, 5:20:50.
1, Free Agents, 4:55:36. 2, Waikīkī Beachboys, 5:04:33. 3, Kailua Masters 50, 5:18:38. 4, Iron Maidens, 5:21:51. 5, Bimm Bulls, 5:22:24. 6, Team BFL, 5:24:53. 7, Hawaiian Kanaktion, 5:38:26. 8, Team Ray, 5:46:31.
Men open canoe: 1, Team Kamanu, 3:56:40. 2, Team Livestrong, 4:09:10. 3, OCP Mafia, 4:17:48. Men specified canoe: 1, Team PA'A, 4:12:36. 2, Outrigger, 4:20:02. 3, Lanikai, 4:24:14. Men masters 40-older: 1, Kukui'ula, 4:40:23. 2, Kailua, 4:54:39. Men masters 50-older: 1, Team Hawai'i/Kailua, 4:59:53. 2, Imua, 5:10:56. Women open canoe: 1, Kailua Masters 50, 5:18:38. 2, Iron Maidens, 5:21:51. Women specified canoe: 1, Free Agents, 4:55:36. 2, Waikīkī Beachboys, 5:04:33. 3, Bimm Bulls, 5:22:24. Women masters 40-older: 1, Bimm Bulls, 5:22:24. Women masters 50-older: 1, Kailua Masters 50, 5:18:38. 2, Hawaiian Kanaktion, 5:38:26.