KAHULUI - Eugene Vierra didn't poke the biggest tako, but still won the Larry Libres Fishing and Diving Tournament on Saturday at Kanaha Beach Park.
The 25th annual contest drew 359 tako divers and 334 oama fishermen.
Divers had to be at the scale by 10:30 a.m. - Vierra arrived with his catch and a big smile on his face at 10:20. The crowd gathered around the scale cheered when Vierra pulled his octopus from his dive bag and plopped it on the scale.
Eugene Vierra smiles Saturday as his tako weighs in at 6 pounds, 8 ounces.
MOMI BALL photo
His 6-pound, 8-ounce tako was the second biggest in tournament history. Richard Acain's 2000 winner was 8 pounds, 1-ounce.
"I got it right on the break in three feet of water, straight by white house, third reef," Vierra said. "It took me 20 minutes to get back in and I picked up two more coming in."
The 56-year-old Makawao resident added, "I saw this was the big one, I was happy already. I took my time, this one wasn't going away."
Vierra was second last year, seventh in 2010, and sixth in 2008.
"It's about time I came in first," Vierra said. "I dive here every chance I get, it's my backyard."
Vierra would have been runner-up again if Kendall Kealoha would have made it to the scale on time. When Kealoha put his dive bag on the ground in front of the official's table at 10:37, the scale had already been taken down.
An out-of-breath Kealoha pulled a huge tako out of his bag. Even though his octopus was disqualified for coming in late, contest judges weighed Kealoha's tako "unofficially." It would have been the biggest tako ever, weighing in at 9 pounds, 4 ounces.
"It took me a long time coming in," Kealoha said. "I couldn't swim fast enough."
Kealoha swam with his floater, three spears and two other takos besides his near-record catch.
"I was looking for the rescue ski to get a ride in," he said. "Look it even bent my spear."
Divers took advantage of the clean water and light wind. Seventy-four divers weighed in 130 tako.
The fishermen had a little tougher time finding oama. Only 30 fishermen had their catches measured.
Chris Kele of Kahului won the 13-and-over division with a 13-centimeter oama. Dylan Gomes of Makawao took the 12-and-under class with an 11.3-centimeter catch.
LARRY LIBRES FISHING/DIVING
At Kanaha Beach Park
Tako-1. Eugene Vierra, Makawao, 6 lbs., 8 oz.; 2. Harry Yoshioka, Wailuku, 4-13; 3. Tracy Ventura, Makawao, 4-4; 4. La'akea Day, Makawao, 4-3; t5. Julio Ramos, Haiku, 4-0; t5. Addison Teves, Makawao, 4-0; 7. Glen Santos, Pukalani, 3-12; 8. Alfred Balberdi, Kihei, 3-11; 9. Jeff Chong, Paia, 3-10; 10. Justin Acain-Wailuku, 3-7.5.
Oama 12-and-under-1. Dylan Gomes, Makawao, 11.3 cm; 2. Hanalei Akina, Haiku, 11.1; t3. A.J. Manuel, Kahului, 10.6; t3. Kapono Nakamoto, Haiku, 10.6; 5. Keelan Yagi, Kahului, 10.3.
Oama 13-and-over-1. Chris Kele, Kahului, 13; 2. Patrick Medeiros, Makawao, 12.5; 3. Robert Felipe, Wailuku, 11.1; 4. Lianne Kele, Kula, 11; 5. Donn Shigeta, Kahului, 10.8