HONOLULU (Oct. 12, 1997) -- For the second time in two weeks an Australian outrigger canoe crew has conquered the Molokai Channel -- only this time it was the men’s Outrigger Australia 2 crew who raced to first in the 46th annual Bankoh Molokai Hoe outrigger canoe championship. Their crossing time of four hours, 57 minutes 45 seconds was not a record but was the third fastest ever posted in the race.

Conditions for today’s event were radically different from the women’s "windy with waves" competition two weeks ago. Today the channel was flat and still, forcing paddlers to stroke all the way. Australia got off to a good start and after the first 15 minutes crept up to the lead next to Tahiti and held it all the way.

"We went through a period there where we were really hurting," said steersman Chris Maynard. "We sort of went through that patch where we were struggling a little bit, and Lanikai must have had a good combination because they were coming up on us. It was a scary moment but in the end we got away."

The Lanikai Maynard was referring to was Hawaii’s two-time championship crew, Lanikai Canoe Club 4, hoping for a third consecutive win. In third place was Hinano Hoe from Papeete, Tahiti. Lanikai’s time was 5:01.07 and Hinano Hoe posted a 5:02.58.

"We haven’t won since 1992 but we’ve been back a few times since then," said Maynard. "We gave it everything we had to try and get a lead out at the start and we were really happy with our course. We just crawled in that last half an hour, we had nothing left I’m just glad Lanikai wasn’t next to us."

According to Maynard, 35, from Currumbin, Queensland, the odds were "pretty amazing" that the Australian women would win the Wahine championship only to be followed by the Australian men. But the gauntlet had been thrown down.

"The girls did a special job winning that race and the pressure was on us a little bit back at home," Maynard said. "Everyone said ‘listen, you gotta do it, you gotta take it out.’ We felt the pressure a little bit but it’s just special to win the women’s and the men’s." Paddling with Maynard were: Ian Rolling, Rob Dorrough, Brad Kane, Peter Evans, Matthew Jones, Heath Brown, Robert Pade, and Todd Murray .

An obviously disappointed Jim Foti, of Lanikai’s record holding crew, was brief saying: "Hard race. Hard conditions, and Australia earned it, every stroke.

"The water was flat, then it seemed to be quartering into our face so there was really no surf at all," Foti said. "The current was in our favor, at least. Australia just owned it. We kept trying to push on them but couldn’t quite pull it off." Paddlers with the Lanikai crew included: Michael Smith, Michael Pedersen, Rich Lambert, Rocky Owens, Kalani Irvine, John Foti, Bo Eastabrook, Peter Binny and Jim Foti.

Of the top ten slots, French Polynesia swept the standings, from third to seventh, with Hinano Hoe third overall followed by: Fare Ara, Tapeatia, Reva Nui and Faaa.

Paddling for Hinano Hoe were: Gilles Tching, Marc Barff, Conrad Van Bastolaer, Karl Salmon, Jimmy Pirato, Jean Wong, Guy Temauri, Jean Pierre Barff and Yannick Haama.

Lanakila Canoe Club from Redondo Beach, Calif., the first US Mainland crew to finish, was 11th overall in 5:17.59. "For us it was really nice, it was flat and we had a blast," said Josh Crayton. Crew members were: Norm Meidl, Brad Gill, Nathan Shore, Bryce Nygaard, Andrew Leitz, Mike Beyers, Konrad Bright, Matt Van Whardenburg and Crayton.

Only three teams entered in a traditional koa canoe. Winning the koa division was Lanikai II in 5:26.11.

International teams included paddlers from Canada, Germany, Hungary and Switzerland.

False Creek paddlers from Vancouver, B.C. included Mike Flesher, Cam Fagrie, Terry Lewis, Russ Plume, Tony Van Buuren, Dale Wiedman, Pete Heever, Dave Tafbell and Maui steersman Archie Kalepa.

After an absence of several years, New Zealand sent two crews to compete. Outrigger New Zealand finished in 5:28.31 and Moana Pacific, the second Kiwi crew with paddlers from Gisborne, Tauranga, Hamilton and Wellington finished in 6:33.14.

"It was an awesome experience," said Tamati Paul "We had a few little difficulties across the channel, for a number of us it was our first crossing although we had a few experienced members in the crew, but overall it was an awesome, wonderful experience, the ultimate challenge. We’re definitely coming back.

"One other thing I’d like to mention is one of the main reasons we’re here is to support Hawaii’s Nappy Napoleon, he’s a great fried of ours and we traveled all the way from New Zealand to honor Nappy’s 40th crossing," Paul said. Other Moana Kai crew members were: Hoturoa Kerr, Malcolm Whatai, Hugh Greening, Jason Porter, Frank Bankoh Molokai Hoe 3-3-3

Kawe, Lyle Krecky, Andy Williams, Justin Te Tau and Paul. Members of the Outrigger New Zealand Crew were Richard Nuu, Geoff Hunter, Andrew Penny, Rob Kaiwai, Shane Petite-Smith, Hamden Parker, Dave Kenedy, Gavin Clark and Enoki, from Napoleon’s Anuenue Canoe Club.

Of the 110 teams who started, two were disqualified because, according to race officials they used more than nine paddlers in their crew..

"Waikiki Yacht Club 2 and Kaiola 2 were disqualified," said Joan Malama, race coordinator and head of the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association, organizers of the event. "The officials very carefully observed it and noted it."

Race officials also expressed concern because some of the crews were observed making a false start. Others followed them.

"These crews were honestly over the line but there were also many other crews whose numbers could not be picked up," Malama said. "When the committee had a chance to get together and discuss it they decided that part of the fault was the line which was not as clear as it was last year, the floaters were not keeping the rope up where it could be seen. People were bunched up together so clubs could not move back. Crews who were not called for the penalty admitted to us that they were over the line." Kamehameha Oahu was assessed a ten minute penalty for not moving back.

"We’re going to go back to square one and work again on the line and how we can keep it straight and keep everyone behind it.

Both the Bankoh Molokai Hoe and the Bankoh Na Wahine O Ke Kai are sponsored by Bank of Hawaii, which is celebrating its 100th year of service to the people of Hawaii and the Pacific this year.

For more information, please contact Linda Chinn, Bank of Hawaii, 808-537-8658.

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Last Modified: Sunday 10/12/97 1519 HST
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