Bartlett gets fifth win in tough conditions
By Cindy Luis
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Apr 18, 2011 http://www.staradvertiser.com/sports/20110418_Bartlett_gets_fifth_win_in_tough_conditions.html
So hard that veteran waterman Kai Bartlett considered calling it quits 2 hours into yesterday's Steinlager Kaiwi Channel Solo OC-1 World Championship.
"I told my (escort boat) captain, ‘OK, 2 hours in and if there's no bumps, I'm done, ice the beer.'
"But at 2 hours, I was stuck in the lead and stayed."
Bartlett's northerly line from Kaluakoi, Molokai, started to pay off. Bolstered by a school of dolphins that popped up in front of his bow midway across the channel, he crossed the finish line at Koko Marina in 4 hours, 15 minutes and 35 seconds — the Maui resident's fifth title in this 32-mile event and third when the conditions have been relatively flat.
Defending champion Danny Ching was more than 2 minutes back at 4:17:42. It was well off the Californian's 3:38:51 time last year, when he edged Honolulu's Jimmy Austin by 32 seconds; Austin was third yesterday in 4:19:05.
"Today was lots of paddling," said Ching, finishing his seventh "Molo Solo." "We saw the weather report, but we were just praying for something better.
"It was a much different race than last year. This one was really tough. You train for what you think you're going to get. We didn't get it."
Of the 88 entrants, 83 finished. The others pulled out because of the anticipated brutal conditions.
The Bartletts made it a family affair on the winner's podium. Lauren Spalding Bartlett successfully defended her women's title, crossing the finish line in 4:43:57, 33rd overall, and some 30 minutes off last year's time.
Honolulu's Rachel Bruntsch was the second female (4:54:24) and Claire Townsend, also of Honolulu, third (4:58:27).
The race drew entries from Hawaii, the mainland, Australia, Japan, Germany, France and Italy.
The race conditions were hard enough that one competitor, when asked about his time, said: "I'm just stoked that I'm in."
Added Ching: "I swear this sport is supposed to be fun.
"I had dreams of the fan man last night. He never came."
Next up on the PAA Hawaii calendar is the May 1 Kaiwi Relay for OC-1 and OC-2 teams. Entries are due by Tuesday, and late entries will be accepted through April 27.