The Hoe Lokahi Canoe Club's men and women's outrigger crews arose victorious in the group's September race series held last Saturday in the waters of Kilili Beach.
The host club's men's team is composed of Steven Beyer, Kraig Church, Grafton Howard, Ed Johnson, Jack Kabiriel, James Lee, and Frank Villagomez. The women's squad has Rita Bonici, Elizabeth Church, Melia Johnson, Kaity Mattos, Shelli Neal, Leilani Nielsen, Maria Ortez, and Rebecca Skeele.
The Saipan Paddlers Club's men's and women's squads also turned out for the event, which consisted of a trio of race heats in both the open 500-meter sprint and open 1,500-meter distance trek categories. The Saipan Outrigger Canoe Club's men's crew also appeared over the weekend, but competed only in the 500-meter sprint.
The Hoe Lokahi lady paddlers swept SPC in all three open 500-meter heats with respective times of 3:11, 2:55, and 2:55. The SPC women put up a good fight, however, and settled for second by an average of just over 10-seconds. SPC's post times read at 3:06, 3:15, and 3:08.
The Hoe Lokahi women kicked it up a notch in the 1,500-meter distance event and crossed the finish line, on average, about a minute ahead of its SPC rivals. The host team clocked in at 9:57 on the first run, which went down as its fastest time of the day. It slowed down a little in the second heat, finishing in 10:50, but still held off its opponents in the final heat with a burly 10:07 in the final run.
The SPC ladies also turned in their fastest time on the first leg with a 10:45, and although they came up a little short in the last two heats, they did a good job maintaining their individual pace. SPC slowed things down just a hair and finished up the day with an 11:15 and 11:16.
The Hoe Lokahi men bested their SPC counterparts in their 500-meter sprint event and clinched the win after the first two heats. Hoe Lokahi timed in at 2:32 and 2:38, before dropping the last set to its rival. SPC clocked in at 2:37 and 2:44 in the first two runs, about five or six seconds behind the former, but managed to finish the day on a high note with its 2:39 mark, a nose ahead of Hoe Lokahi (2:40), while SOCC (2:47/2:58/2:54) played the caboose in all three sets.
SPC may have managed a moral victory early in the day, but the Hoe Lokahi guys bit down and pulled off the sweep in the 1,500-meter event. Hoe Lokahi turned in a 9:06 and a 9:08 and easily took the first two sets and saved enough fuel in the tank to run the table.
SPC came in well over a half-minute behind the host crew in the first two heats with times of 9:44 and 9:55 and was denied the checkered flag in the final trek, as Hoe Lokahi's steady 9:10 mark in the final heat bested SPC by six seconds.
The Hoe Lokahi Canoe Club is a non-profit organization and has been organizing monthly canoe races with other local paddling clubs as part of its training regiment for the 14th Annual Micronesian Cup outrigger series, which will be held on Saipan at the Kanoa Resort on Oct. 27 and 28.
Between 25 to 30 teams or over 200 participants from Japan, Hong Kong, Palau, Guam, and the CNMI are expected to turn out for the event.
For more information about the Micro Cup, contact event coordinator Richard Sikkel at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.microcup2012.blogspot.com.
For more information about the Hoe Lokahi Canoe Club, contact Leilani Nielsen at email@example.com or visit their Facebook page.