by JACK WYATT
Special to the Honolulu StarBulletin
"I m sick and tired of the usual sprint to the finish, fighting off someone for first place," said Oscar Chalupsky, 32, who slowed his pace slightly so his younger brother could stay even.
"By crossing the finish together, Herman and I can go home to Durban happy as co-winners, each satisfied that we won the Moloka`i," he said.
Taking the lead two hours into the race, the Chalupsky brothers were pushed but never headed. They finished the 32-mile race in a relatively slow three hours, 53 minutes and 28 seconds.
Brett Pengelly, 24, followed his teammates to the Koko Marina finish, placing third one-minute later.
With its three-paddler sweep, South Africa easily won the Challenge's team title. Team USA placed second, followed by Team New Zealand. The team competition is calculated by each country's top three finishers.
Foreign paddlers have won the men's kayak division of the Bankoh Challenge for 17 consecutive years.
Because of calm channel conditions--waves too small and wind too gentle for a surfing advantage--times were slow, and paddling for most, was arduous.
"An incredibly difficult crossing -- my toughest race yet," said Oscar Chalupsky, who, before yesterday, won the race for seven consecutive years (l983 1989).
"The heat was terrible and the waves too small to ride. It was a hard paddle all the way," he said.
For Herman Chalupsky, 30, yesterday was his first victory after second-place finishes in 1987,1988 and 1993. "I'll take this win and be happy with it," he said. "Our training has been for big waves - the kind we expected here. So winning here in calm conditions was special."
The race drew approximately 65 surfski kayaks, including six women entries. Seventeen men paddling one-person outrigger canoes also took part.
As a result of injuries and equipment breakdowns, 11 contestants withdrew.
"I was in the lead pack and paddling strong when suddenly I couldn't use my left arm," said Australia's Dean Gardiner, who dropped out after two hours and 45 minutes.
As the men's kayak division winner the past three years, Gardiner was the event's heavy favorite.
Fey, 34, who set the women's record last year in 4:12:34, was disappointed that her finish yesterday was 22 minutes slower.
"I was hoping for some waves to surf but that didn't happen. The existing conditions, I felt, were not that bad," she said.
"I was lucky. I found a few bumps (waves) to ride," he said.
Fifth-place finisher Kala Judd 36, of Manoa Valley, was the first Hawai`i kayak finisher for the third consecutive year. "Don't get me wrong," Judd said, "I'm proud to be the first Hawai`i finisher, and I'm happy with my placings. But I think it's time for an Island paddler to win this race."
Kalai Handley was the Challenge's last Hawai`i winner (1978).
"My hardest race yet. It was brutal," said race veteran Kala Kukea, winner of the 50 - 59 age division in 4:16:58.
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