Protocol, a canoe racing team from U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, made their debut May 7 when they paddled their way to third place during the 2011 All Military Canoe Regatta at the Rainbow Bay Marina, here.
Protocol, composed of Marines assigned to the Office of the Staff Secretary, started off strong during the first heat of the men’s division. They were neck and neck early in the heat, but lost their momentum down the stretch, losing to one of two teams comprised of Hawaii Air National Guardsmen, HIANG 1, by four seconds.
Although the Marines took second place in the first heat, they were bumped to third in the division after team HIANG 2 dominated the second heat with a time of 2:07:20.
“We started off slow at the beginning, but we hung in there and gave it our all,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Bigelow, administration chief for the Office of the Staff Secretary. “We won’t make the same mistake during the next race.”
During the men’s finals, Protocol started off strong, giving HIANG 1 a run for their money, but neither team was able to keep up with HIANG 2’s experienced paddlers. HIANG 2 destroyed the competition with a time of 2:03:93. Meanwhile, Protocol and HIANG 1 continued to fight for second, but HIANG 1 edged out Protocol by a fraction of a second with a time of 2:12:43, to Protocol’s 2:12:75.
“They did a good job, but their biggest weakness was staying together,” said Henry Ayat, an instructor at the marina and the team’s coach. “Marines always try to out-do each other. But when you paddle, it’s all about staying together and paddling at the same pace. But they have only been paddling for a month, so this was really good.”
Despite coming in third, Protocol was satisfied with the outcome.
“I feel good,” said Sgt. Luis SosaGuerrero, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of MarForPac’s protocol section. “This was the first time we were together as a team. We started practicing about a month ago and we were never able to get everyone together at the same time, so coming out and working together the way we did, I have no regrets. And hey, there’s always next year.”