BIG ISLAND'S KAI O PUA VICTORIOUS
The Results -|- Finish Line Pix
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Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Waikiki, Hawai`i (9/24/2000) -- True to early
Big Island's Kai O Pua Open team, from Kona, took first place today in the
41-mile, 22nd annual Bank of Hawaii Na Wahine O Ke Kai Outrigger Canoe
Championship. Kai O Pua won in a time of 5 hours, 56 minutes and 45 seconds
32 minutes outside of the record and less than two minutes clear of Oahu's
Hui Nalu yellow open team.
Kai O Pua triumphed in what were labeled as Kona conditions': intense heat, light winds and very flat ocean, winning over Hui Nalu and defending champions Wailua Kayak and Canoe, of Kaua`i, to become the first Big Island team to take the title in the 22-year history of the race.
While tipped as the favorites after their recent win of the Queen Liliuokalani race, at no point did Kai O Pua run away with the lead. In fact, their win came after a hard fought duel with Hui Nalu yellow that began at the starting line at Hale O Lono, Moloka`i, and saw the lead change hands six times by the finish.
"We were literally neck-and-neck the whole way, from beginning to end," said Kai O Pua's Dondi Dawson, who co-steered with Jackie Taylor. "Hui Nalu was with us the whole way. But we had the strength. Our spirits were strong and we bonded well as a team throughout the race. Most of all, we really wanted it."
Organizers were calling for a slow race after checking on conditions this morning, but the absence of chop and lack of wind actually assisted the glide of the canoes and saw the winning team finish just one minute outside of the 1999 leader's time.
"I have to say that we kept up with the leading crews today and while both Kai O Pua and Hui Nalu were neck-and-neck, you could just see the physical strength that Kai O Pua had," said Race Director Hannie Anderson.
Second placed Hui Nalu yellow team were pleased with their performance and arrived home to a rousing local welcome.
"I think this is the hottest crossing of the Channel I've ever made," said nine-time Bank of Hawaii Na Wahine O Ke Kai veteran Tammy Kaneaiakala. "Hot and flat are the hardest conditions of all, but our steersman got us on just about anything there was to ride. The difference just came when we hit Koko Head and Kai O Pua chose to stay outside and we chose to come inside (closer to shore)."
Hui Nalu's second place time was 5:58:25. Kauai's Wailua Kayak and Canoe's third place finish came in a time of 6:03:19.
While not successfully defending their title, Wailua Kayak and Canoe were totally satisfied with their performance today. Carrying five members from last year's Molokai lineup, along with five new additions to the team, Wailua Kayak and Canoe looked tight despite having only trained once as a team.
"It took us a little while to start blending," explained steerswoman Noelani Sawyer, who steered iron across the channel. "But we were doing pretty well toward the end. We had a great race and a lot of fun."
Wailua Kayak and Canoe is a collection of paddlers from around the state, the country, and the world. A truly international group, they race under the banner of their headquarter home town of Wailua, Kauai, despite coming from Maui, Kauai, the Big Island, California, Wisconsin, New Zealand and Tahiti.
The first and only koa canoe was that of Hilo's Kamehameha, which finished 39th out of a field of 62 finishers in a time of 6:59:37. First in the Master 35 division was Californian Kai Elua ninth overall in a time of 6:21:22. First in the Master 45 division was Kai O Pua, 6:39:32.
The 22nd annual Bank Of Hawaii Na Wahine O Ke Kai set a new pace moving into the new millennium, culminating with a strongly supported finish at Duke Kahanamoku Beach, in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Greeted with a winner's canoe paddle tunnel, a sea of flowers and the sounds of cheers and live, local music, today's finishing crews received the warmest of welcomes.
While today's race signaled the end of an arduous paddling season for the wahine, the men will take to the Kaiwi Channel in just two week's time for the 49th annual Bank of Hawaii Hinano Molokai Hoe , Sunday, October 8.
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Last Modified:Monday - 20000925.15:17 EDT
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