KALAPAKI — As the light winds blew gently across Kalapaki Bay, the racecourse to Kukui‘ula seemed a long way away. The long course entrants offloaded their seagoing racing equipment and enjoyed catching up with old friends in the new year as they registered, prepared boats and minds, and wished almost unanimously for more wind. At the same time, the short course format had been moved to a Kukui‘ula start with the size-changing to an out and back. Both races would finish at the small boat harbor.
The forecast indicated a 4-6 knot easterly, and at this time, it was almost spot on. Race Director Tyrus Siale held a safety briefing with the description of the course, escort boat protocol, and rescue protocol. All but three of the long course entrants had experienced the course, and along with the six new short course paddlers, the field total amounted to 48. A great turnout for the first race of the season, especially in light air. A special mention to the Na ‘Opi‘o who showed up to the race.
As the whistle blew, the racers began the arduous ‘race and chase’ for the finish line. The light conditions meant the exit from Kalapaki was slightly easier than usual but meant paddlers had to work hard after turning Carter’s point to keep on the small swells that help push them down the coastline. Choosing a line was not easy since unlike Indy 500 or Formula 1, there are no tracks, and each paddler must assess the conditions of the weather, himself, and his competition in determining the approach he will take to that leg of the race.
Over 13 miles, course changes are frequent, as was experienced by the jostle that played out between Jeff McBride, John Bresnahan, Leggs Yokotake, and Jack Edgehill, who were separated at the finish line, after the long slog south, by just 21 seconds. The hustling, the push, and the tenacity in a group like that are one of the attractions of the sport of offshore downwind paddling, whether you’re in an OC1, OC2, Surfski or Va‘a. Whether it is your first race or your last, sportsmanship, stories and seamanship all find their place in these character-building events.
The overall long course mens winners were:
1.) Abel Teriitemataua OC-1 18-39 1:29:27.6
2.) Christian Marston Jr. OC-1 18-39 1:34:15.8 +4:48.2
3.) Bronson Aiwohi OC-1 18-39 1:34:26.1 +4:58.5
Long course women’s winners
1. Lynnette Hazard OC-1 40-49 2:07:38.7
2.) Alicia Hedlesky OC-1 18-39 2:16:50.7 +9:12.0
3.) Ella Beck Under 18 2:21:41.1 +14:02.4
Short course men’s
1.) Ian Bolden OC-1 50-54 55:01.5
2.) Steve Kessler OC-1 55-59 1:00:18.9 +5:17.4
3.) Charles Smith OC-1 60-64 1:03:24.3 +8:22.8
Short course women’s
1.) Mitzi Coy OC-2 54:36.9 –
2.) Maylene Jackson OC-1 50-54 1:01:45.0 +7:08.1
3.) Darcy Attisani OC-2 1:05:21.5 +10:44.6