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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Oct. 2) – The 2002 winner of Hawaii’s famous Molokai-to-Oahu outrigger canoe race - Tahiti’s Rai Club - will join two other clubs from French Polynesia in the 53rd Annual Molokai Race on Oct. 10.

Those are the Shell and Fareara from Huahine.

The Rai Club from Tahiti’s Commune of Faa’a is managed by Lewis Laughlin, who hopes his team can recapture the prestigious international title that was won last year by Team Hawaii-New Zealand with a time of five hours and one minute, defeating the Hawaiian club Lanikai.

"With Rai’s current team, I’m leaving untroubled," Laughlin said of his weekend departure for Honolulu. This will be the fifth time that a Rai Club from Faa’a has participated in the 92-kilometer (57-mile) race between the two islands. This year’s organizers are expecting 130 outrigger canoes at the starting line, with clubs coming from Australia, New Zealand, California and Tahiti, but mostly from throughout Hawaii.

"Molokai is a race that excites me and which is, to some extent, a family history since the victory" of the Te Oropaa Club’s Tere Matai outrigger canoe in the 1976 competition, Laughlin said. Hugh Laughlin managed the Te Oropaa Club.

The Rai Club won the 1993 and 1994 Molokai races. But Rai did not win again until 2002.

"All that says that we’re attached to Molokai, which is a prestigious race, a very tactical, real open sea race," Lewis Laughlin said.

Shell’s club also ready for Molokai 2004

Another big favorite for this year’s race is Tahiti’s Shell Club, which was crowned world champion in outrigger canoe racing in August following competitions held in Hawaii. Georges Cronsteadt has rejoined Shell’s first team.

Richel Moux, the Shell Club’s manager, said before leaving for Honolulu, "We certainly have an excellent team, but let’s not shout victory. Shell doesn’t have Molokai experience like Rai." The Shell delegation that leaves for Hawaii totals 17 persons.

Winner of French Polynesia’s Hawaiki Nui outrigger canoe race last year, Huahine’s Fareara Club, is headed for Honolulu thanks to Huahine Mayor Marcelin Lisan. He promised the club a ticket to Molokai if it won the 2003 Hawaiki Nui Race. And he kept his word, said Peter Owen, one of the club’s managers.

"Out club doesn’t have much means and our paddlers must sleep on mattresses in a house that is being loaned to us," Owen said. "We are the outrigger canoe cowboys. Our talent is navigating in heavy seas and our ability to surf" the waves. "That’s what makes the difference."

October 4, 2004

Tahitipresse: http://www.tahitipresse.pf/index.cfm?lang=2


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