This blog focuses on paddling locally here in Hawaii as well as elsewhere. As a long time paddler with Anuenue Canoe Club, there's lots of good fun talk story time with Nappy and others on our crew. We even get around to some issues that get a lot of comments from the paddling community and need attention to improve our sport.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Shell Vaʻa again - but not by much!

Molokaʻi Hoe 2012 was a far cry from the epic conditions two weeks earlier for the Na Wahine race. The week leading up to the race was marked by winds of any kind missing in action, and paddlers were hopeful that the weekend would bring some trades and swell. It was not to be as race day brought a relatively flat channel with haze and little surfing. Race favorite and 6-time defending champion Shell Vaʻa had a battle on their hands though as a younger and determined EDT crew led the race by 200 meters entering the channel after the sprint to Laʻau. However EDT veered a little south and shortly afterwards Shell  took off to the right and found a more favorable line. From that point on, EDT had to play catch up and slowly narrowed the gap approaching Oahu. Off Waikiki, EDT came within striking distance but just couldnʻt catch the Shell crew who went across the line one minute ahead of the challengers. No record this year as the winners finished in 5:15:49 as the conditions took their toll on all the crews. Shellʻs second crew was third, and their paddlers crossed the line standing up in celebration. The Big Islandʻs Livestrong was the first Hawaiian crew to finish followed by Team Primo. Tahitiʻs Team Tahaa Nui was next, and the Tahiti Ohana crew, including some members of the Raʻi winning crew from 2002 finished ninth overall and first in the Masterʻs Division.

Heading for the finish: Shell in the lead and EDT turning.

EDT thinks of what might have been as a small course mistake proved costly. They will have another chance soon in the upcoming Hawaiki Nui race.

For Hawaii crews once again, what will it take to break up the Tahitian domination. Age, sponsorship help, and training are working against the top Hawaiian crews. For example EDTʻs paddlers are mostly in the 19-20 age group. Of interest is their training schedule. Six days a week they prepared by training before work from approximately 5-7 AM, work for the electric company until 3-3:30 PM and then more training with cross training lifting and running as well. 

With their win, Shell Vaʻa broke the previous record for consecutive Molokaʻi victories which they shared with the Waikiki Surf Club powerhouse crews of the sixties. When asked what their goal was going to be, one comment was , "We wonʻt stop until we get ten in a row!" It may be that the crews like EDT may have something to say about that!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Waimanalo Blues

Senior men at the start

Almost predictably on a windy, sunny day, Waimānalo featured hulis galore and DQs as paddlers encountered challenging conditions. With the inevitable delays and the late hour, the race schedule questions resurfaced as the regatta had to be called with five events remaining. At that point, with chilly conditions especially on the beach, the remaining paddlers were more than ready to call it a day. Needless to say, deciding what to do next about the missing races will be a troublesome issue for OHCRA officials to resolve. Possibilities include running the events at the next regular regatta at Kāneʻohe Bay.

Still racing as 7pm approaches

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fatherʻs Day Regatta Redux

One year ago Honolulu Canoe Clubʻs Hōnaunau had a disastrous trip to the beach as the crew and canoe crashed to the sand after a big set came through lane 12. Honolulu Pearl is using a borrowed koa as Hōnaunau is still being repaired. Todayʻs conditions were much mellower, and the regatta went smoothly ending around 4 PM.

A lot of discussion about possible regatta changes besides those mentioned in last weekʻs blog:

Eliminating several races: Dropping the fours was frequently mentioned especially because there are sometimes two heats. So it comes down to popularity vs practicality as this option has been discussed before. Another idea would be to revise the age group divisions to correspond to those used in the World Sprints i.e. 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. Both changes would drop two races from the schedule. If this schedule were adopted and any events with three or less entries were combined with others, the end result would be a shorter day for all.

Regattas such as Nanakuli or MacFarlane that are out and back events are not subject to many delays such as we can see at Kailua and Waimanalo. The results of a 42-race schedule are really magnified at these two sites depending on conditions. Will OHCRA officials even be willing to discuss any significant changes remains to be seen! In the meantime the discussion continues....

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In the tube Tahitian style!

Some totally insane surfing at Teahupoo! Check it out!

Regatta 2012: Too much of a good thing?

Time for a change? Two regattas into the 2012 season and we've been hearing some continued commentary of what has become a very long day at the races. Currently there are a record 42 races on the schedule, and under the best of circumstances with no unforeseen delays, we are still competing late in the afternoon. At Ke'ehi, the last events of the day were being run close to 6 PM. Clubs were in various stages of packing up and some had exited already. The focus was not really on the last one or two races but more on leaving the area. The next weekend at Kailua saw an even longer day as there were some early hulls with some inevitable delays. At Ānuenue, we were pulling out at around 7 PM as we scrambled to load the canoe and clean up our area.

The open-4 crew gets ready to paddle out close to 6 PM.

What to do?

Reflecting on the contrast to regatta days past where the race schedule had only 16-18 races, our current line up may have reached the point where a strong case can be made to consider some other approaches. There are times when races with only a few entries could be combined in order to speed things up and take advantage of a number of empty lanes. For example, on Sunday at Kailua, the womenʻs 60s race had only two entries. Why not combine them with the menʻs 60s, a race that only has 4-5 entries? Another suggestion from Nappy: Have an on-call paddling "Swat Team" so that if there is a huli, the process of righting the canoe can be expedited by individuals who are veterans and experts about the process. If you go over, in this regatta setting, itʻs over. Why delay the process to see if perhaps the crew can get going fast enough to be awarded one point for participating for the State championship qualifying total.

Another more radical possibility would be to split up the regatta making it a two day event. For example, the first day on Saturday could be for the younger generation of paddlers say up to 18s. Plenty of time for the inexperienced keikis to enjoy the event and for teenagers to hang with their friends and compete. Letʻs face it, they would much rather have their own regatta time without a bunch of adults around except for their coaches. Parents could come and support their kids without having to spend the entire day at the beach. The flip side of course is the young paddlers are mostly long gone anyway leaving to enjoy the rest of their weekend with little interest in the adult competition.

Day two would be the adult events. The early races could be the older adults who tend to be early risers anyway. The climactic races should be the senior events with the other races being run earlier. The mixed races would also benefit as these paddlers would some interested spectators instead of the "letʻs get this over with so we can get out of here " feeling that understandably occurs as the hour gets later and later. With our current schedule, regattas run in this way would have a manageable 28 races.

To be sure, some major logistical challenges would have to be overcome with a 2-day event including probably the permitting process. Hauling canoes twice vs leaving them on the beach overnight?? Yet at this stage the regattas are now approaching marathon events that cry out for seriously considering some significant changes. Hopefully OHCRA will not be opposed to considering input to streamline our highlight summer events.

6:15 PM and weʻre still racing!

Friday, October 21, 2011

6 in a row!

Shell Va'a did it again, but it took a new record of 4:30:54 to hold off challenger EDT who also bested the old mark finishing in 4:36:45. Taking advantage of their familiarity with the Kaiwi Channel and some favorable surfing near Oahu, Shell won for the sixth consecutive time matching Waikiki Surf Club (1958-1963) for the record number of victories in a row. Two of their crew have been members of all six wins.

For the young EDT crew, it was a learning experience. With hopes of knocking off the defending champions as they had already done in the Tahiti Nui Va'a 3-day race in May, EDT jumped out to a 400-500 meter lead as the canoes raced along the coast of West Moloka'i. However once past La'au Point and into the channel itself, it was a different story as the crew took a while to adjust to the conditions and pick the best course. Shell remained in sight but they never relinquished their lead, and EDT had to settle for second place. Third place went to Team Primo/Wailea Canoe Club despite an early hull followed by Lanikai in fourth. The other two Tahitian crews were next including Team Livestrong Tahiti competing in the Masters 40+ division.

The stage is set then for next year's race and a possible new record of consecutive victories. EDT officials were high on their crew's performance and their Moloka'i Hoe experience and hopeful for a return in 2012. EDT will get another crack at their Shell rivals as well as as the two-time defending champion OPT crew in the upcoming Hawaiki Nui race coming up in three weeks. Due to work conflicts, this year there will not be a Team Hawaii crew competing in Tahiti but the crew will be racing there again in 2012.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Upside Down Dragons!

Dragon boat racing in Hawaii took a step forward this past weekend with new boats available for racing for the first time. Crews had been practicing in the old barge lead sled versions first brought here during Mayor Jeremy Harris's time. With practically no time to get used to the new boats, the result was predictable and amusing. It was an action packed dragon boat festival marked by hulis, missed flags, and other mishaps on the water. Anuenue paddlers have been helping out with practices for the crews since the event began, and this year, veteran steerers Nappy, Hardy and Baby Bell had some adventures trying to keep from going for a swim. The new boats with their different design are definitely tippy as everyone found out in a hurry! It got to the point where the decorative dragon heads were removed due to the frequent drenchings.

Of course dragon boat racing is serious business especially in Asia with world championships held every other year since 1995. In Hong Kong for example, dragon boat racing is the main event while outriggers are secondary for their paddling clubs. For more info on the cultural aspects and history:

Next year with practice time available there should be a big improvement! In the meantime, three old boats with their newly painted heads await their fate. Anyone need an old dragon boat to decorate their backyard and bring good luck?