TO WIN 50TH CROSSING OF BANK OF HAWAII HINANO MOLOKAI HOE 2001
Honolulu, HAWAII - Sunday, October 7, 2001 - A combination of New Zealand and Hawaii paddlers, favorable wind and ocean conditions, top-of-the-line equipment and neck-and-neck competition proved to be the unbeatable mix to take Team New Zealand/Hawaii to victory in today's 50th crossing of the Bank of Hawaii Hinano Molokai Hoe. Incredibly, 41 miles was not distance enough to break up the field with the top three finishing teams - Team NZ/Hawaii, Lanikai #1, and Pirae Va'a (Tahiti), jockeying for the lead throughout the race from Molokai's Hale O Lono Harbor, to Waikiki's Duke Kahanamoku Beach. In the end, just two seconds were the difference between Team NZ/Hawaii and defending champions and course record holders Lanikai #1. Team New Zealand/Hawaii finished in a time of 5 hours, 2 minutes and 57 seconds. Despite a crushingly close loss, Lanikai retained their record crossing time of 4:50:31, set last year.
Upon analysis, the two seconds between second and first place could have been lost or gained in a dozen different ways. Perhaps it was a single ride down one of the 10 to 15 foot wave faces, or a minor change in course. Even the photo finish was described in a variety of ways: two seconds, two seats, three feet, a single stroke. But the taste of victory for Team NZ/Hawaii was sweet, and the narrow miss for Lanikai was devastating.
"It was tight from the very beginning," explained Team NZ/Hawaii steersman Karel Tresnak Jr. "Lanikai took a slightly more northern course than us, then came down onto our line at around the two hour mark and they just took off. They got a good quarter mile up on us and we weren't making any ground at all. I knew then that we were going to have to step it up. We took it up a notch, caught up to them at Port Lock and then just tried to hammer it all the way home. They cut in close to Diamond Head while we played it safe on the outside and then the rest was the finish."
On the tight finish: "We held our line to the finish. There was no way I was going to give it up. I would have crashed the canoe or whatever it took to hold that line. We had a few little bumps (with Lanikai) on the way in, but nothing unusual.
"I was just amazed at how fast the race went. It was very fast given that we had the (outgoing) tide working against us. The conditions were excellent with the wind and swell at our backs the whole time. Had the tide been incoming, we would have been close to a record. It was amazing to see where the level of competition was at today."
Lanikai #1 steersman Jim Foti was visibly spent after the race, obviously having given his all throughout the race and having thrown in his last ounce of effort at the finish.
"That was so painful," said Foti, who steered his crew to victory and a record time last year. "But there's no question we put our all into it. We made our mistakes and I'm sure they (NZ/Hawaii) made theirs, too, but it didn't shake out for us in the end. At the finish, Karel just wouldn't let us get inside for the line and that was it."
One hundred and seven crews set out from Molokai this morning and 104 finished. Of the 107 to start, 81 were Hawaii entries, 10 were international - Tahiti (3), Canada (2), Hong Kong, New Zealand, Japan and Australia (2), and 16 came from the U.S. Mainland - California (12), Maryland (2), Illinois, and Connecticut. Of the first five to cross the finish line, Lanikai was the only full Hawaii team. This was the first year since Outrigger Australia won in 1997, that an overseas crew has won.
In a special day for the traditional Hawaiian koa canoe, Outrigger #1 team was the first koa entry to cross the line and did so in a highly credible 12th place. Known for their visible beauty, majesty on the water, and upholding of tradition, the koa canoes are far heavier in the water than the majority of fibreglass entries, and therefore, usually much slower. But today, Outrigger 1 crossed the line in a time of 5:34:50. In contrast, the next koa finisher was 59th place, almost an hour later in a time of 6:29:42. There were a total of four koa entries today.
In other divisions, Hui Lanakila Jr. Masters team took line honors in the 35+ division, crossing in 20th place overall with a finish time of 5:47:23. The 45+ Sr. Masters division was won by Manuiwa OCC in a time of 6:08:04 - 34th place overall.
In its inaugural year, the Golden Masters 55+ division was welcomed home in giant fashion by the thousands who lined the shore. Drawing huge applause and whistles, "Team Viagra", also known as Kailua-Golden, proved they were serious paddlers to take the honors in this Golden category. Of the 104 crews to complete the race, Team Viagra finished in 42nd place overall.
"We really were sponsored by Viagra," said Kailua-Golden paddler Mel Pauole, with a laugh. "And the guys have come up with every line in the book about our performance today."
With an average age of 56, including three paddlers in the mid-60's, the men of Team Viagra may have been a little tired after their six hours, 17 minutes and 38 seconds of paddling, but their sense of humor had outlasted the pack. A total of seven Golden Master teams entered today's race.
The 50th crossing of the Bank of Hawaii Hinano Molokai Hoe was sponsored as a community service by Bank of Hawaii and Hinano Tahiti.
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