Bill Armer expects the members of the Keauhou Canoe Club to get quite a shock Sunday morning.
“Everybody when they read the paper tomorrow, they’re going to say, ‘We did what?’” said Armer, the club’s president, from Oahu, where the team had competed in the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association State Championships on Saturday.
Armer didn’t have the highest of expectations when Keauhou entered only 17 teams — three fewer than the Division AAA minimum — in the state meet. When one scratched and two more were disqualified Saturday, he was left wondering how he could put a positive spin on such a dismal meet for the powerhouse club that won titles in 2010, ’11 and ’12.
When the final results were announced, Armer realized he didn’t need any spin at all. Keauhou won the AAA championship with 141 points, edging out Na Keiki O Ka Moi by a single point.
“When they see that, they’re going to be totally shocked,” Armer said of the crew members. “I was shocked, and I was there the entire time.”
Keauhou won four gold medals and two silver. Kai Opua won two championships with three silver medals and three bronze. Keaukaha won a gold, a silver and a bronze medal; Kai Ehitu won a gold and a silver medal; and Puna won a gold medal and two bronze, giving the Big Island nine championships.
A late push lifted Keauhou to the top of the standings.
In the Sophomore Men’s division, Trey Cox III, Ikaika Hauanio, Kua Nolan, Kaeo Peterson, Kekoa Spoon and Kainoa Tanoai finished in 7:16.51 to edge Kihei Canoe Club, which was second at 7:16.97.
Chevise Conte joined Cox, Hauanio, Nolan, Peterson and Tanoai on the Keauhou crew that paddled a 7:26.37 to beat Kai Opua by more than six seconds in the Men’s Junior group.
Keauhou was golden again in the Men’s Golden Master’s division as Rupert Adarme, Hunter Anderson, Ned Burns, Paul Daugherty, Lambert Lee Loy and Forrest Wild finished in 3:50.10.
Keone Au, Bruce Ayau, Daniel Legler, Lyle Palakiko, Andy Witherspoon and Nue Youderian gave Keauhou another title in the Men’s Masters 40 with a winning time of 7:36.16.
“Our older crews tend to be our strength,” Armer said. “Where we came through today was with our men. Just solid performances by everyone else, but our men and older people delivered at the end of the day.”
With the team championship decided by a single point, almost every Keauhou crew member played a role in the victory.
“It truly is a statement of every team doing the best that they can,” he said. “One point can make a difference.”
The Kai Ehitu Boys 13 found that practice also can make a big difference. The team was set to race in Lane 13, which was regarded as being particularly unlucky, not because of the number but because of the water conditions it forced paddlers to overcome.
“The wind is so strong out there,” Kai Ehitu coach Richard Kimitete said. “From Lane 8 and out … (to) Lane 13, it can really blow in hard out there. There are some dead spots there because the shelf is real shallow. When it’s low tide, there are dead spots. That’s why they say the outside lanes are so difficult. There is no running water, no current whatsoever.”
Rather than complain about their position, Kai Ehitu’s Hiram Anakalea Jr., Iokepa Aponte, Swope Conn, Malosi Laasaga, Bronson Leslie and Baba Weza simply went to work on how to deal with it. They did it so well that they captured the state championship Saturday.
“They went a day early and tried that lane out,” Kimitete said. “They got an idea for how to work that lane. That’s how they pulled that off.”
Assistant coach Hiram Anakalea Sr., who coaches the younger teams, had his paddlers try out the lane over and over again in practice rounds and tried to come up with solutions on how to improve their times. Kimitete said the team members stayed positive throughout the practice sessions.
“They really wanted to keep on going,” Kimitete said. “They went out about three times. They went out and came in and he analyzed it.”
Keaukaha Canoe Club won the Boys 12 championship. Crew members Keone Agpoon, Kekoa Denne Kimi, Nalu Lewis, Honu Longley-Kaaumoana, Kaleoalii Macanas and Kahiau Walker won it in 2:08.63.
Puna Canoe Club, which finished second in Division AA overall standings, won the Men’s Open Four, with Jona Kalima, Jeremy Padayao, Kekoa Sumera-Lee and Keola Sumera-Lee paddling a 3:45.03 to beat Kawaihae by more than six seconds.
Kai Opua Canoe Club won the Men’s Novice A division, as Brian Cornel, Bobby Galdones, Shannon Hardy, Gregory Payton, Chris Sundstrom and Jimmer Tan finished in 7:57.95 to edge Waikiki Beach Boys.
“Several of those guys won the Novice B last year on Kauai,” Kai Opua co-coach Mike Atwood said. “They had some Novice A paddlers that complemented them well. They had a really good season on our island and were able to carry that into the state championship.”
Kai Opua also won the Women’s Freshmen division, where Melanie Kelekolio, Nicki Lacey-Enos, Maile Leslie, Alisa Prendergast, Tiapepe Ulufaleilupe and Cheryl Villegas recorded a time of 8:37.87.
Keaukaha finished second in the Boys 16-and-Under division.
Kai Opua Canoe Club was second in the Girls 14, Men’s Junior and Women’s 65 while Keauhou was second in Men’s 65 and Mixed Masters 55.
The Kai Ehitu Girls 12 crew, which was undefeated going into Saturday’s race, finished second.