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Kanu Culture 1997 - 11-2-10

Kanu Culture 1997 - 11-2-10

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STEVE WEST Steve West has had a love of paddle sports Since he was nine, paddling primarily sea

kayaks. Dunng the lale seveoces and early eighties he became an early pioneer of professional s.l'lboarding In Europe, mvolved ~1Ith '<clng. demonstrating, designing and promotion, lead,ng to requests for freelance pho:ographc and ",ntlen contrbutiocs to magazines worldWide.

Mam'.ainlng a love of paddle sports. he became ;nvof,ed '111m outngger canoe paddling In Australia In 1989 becoming a founding member of Mooloo',lba OJtrigger Caroe Cub and past Vice PreSident and has nvovernent Wlth the Austrahan O.tngger Canoe Racrng A,s<xytlo't SIeve 15 an artNe padd'er and researches the sport and all Its clements, on a full time bass. travelling extenSIVely each ~'ear to gati",er In'om1at:on for Ka'nu Cuture.

FOOTNOTE K.I'~U Cc'tcre Vol, u m~ I, 1995 art,('e ent;';ed, "The Padd':ng Stroke", was credited in 115 entirety to Jason Somerville· Kim I,".

We have s:rce d!s!(c'lcred th~ article was in faa based 0.' a feature written by jenny Rudquist a leading American C I and C2 paddler ard p~\J'isr,ed m a magazine 'M! are unatie to Identify. We apologise for th,s error as the article was pUbl:shed In good fa·th on the u!1den.tand'ng from the contnbutor that II was indeed their wol1<, Ccntnbuto!~ p'ease erscre art~!es fOf cons'~era\Jon are cred ted appropnately, Theft of Intellectual property is a serious rratter a."d often ,n br->..ach of copynght.

Apart!rom lIlY laif PufllOSe' QI privlte ,tudy, Qf mcarch u permitted under tho copyright aCI, no pan of this publica~on may be ~uted, ucred in a mneval l)"ten\, er InIIsmitted in any fann or by any means, electronic, mechanical, pholO<op)'ing. recording or ~ wltiIout written pemUssion. !nquiri~ Wluld be addressed to the publishers, All logo's remain lite propert)' 01 clubs, businesses

or orpniSlOonI.

BIBUOGRAPHY Haddon AC. Homeil}, Canoes of Oceania. Honolulu Bishop Museum Press 1991. T oro "Andras" />, unoe;ng - An Olympc Sport. 1986.

KaiJl/oCufture is fJliblished on an annual basis at the beginning of each year, Cm!tributicns in !he fonn of rype written articles and photJJgraphs (ar considerotion are most welcome, Please address all ccrrespondence to:

PO Box 506, MAROOCHYDORE SUNSHINE COAST, AUSTRALIA, QLD 4558 TELEPHONE & FAX (07) 5479 1327 INTERNATIONAL ## 61 7 5479 1327 INTERNET email: kanu@ozemail.com.au WE8Sm http:l{www.ozemail.com.aul-kanu

Copyrlght@ Steve West 1997 West,S,R.

Ka'nu • Culture 1997 ISSN l3l8-t 80 I


Steve West (Batim Books) EDITORS

Steve & Rose West COpy EDITOR RoSie West

CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS Kns Kjeldsen (New Zealand)

Maui KJeldsen (New Zealand)

AI Ch,ng (u,(om a USA)

Carol Hogan (Illg 'sland- Hawaii)

Nolan Hendncks I Peter Melran (Guam USA) Jo Anne Van T,'burg (UCLA ulfoml' USA) Ted Ralston (Cal.fomIJ USA)

Suzy Homby (rngland)

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Kns Kjeldsen. Sue Neli Suzy Homby, Calvm Chow Daphne Houghard, Ted Rl:ston

jo A'1ne V?'1 T,ibcrg. Johanres Van Tllburg Tito Paoa, Mike Roberts. Katie Benedict

Ben Enfield, Nlko Haoa, Peter Mciya/l, Moloka', !'hotOI Ccu'tcsy of ear,roh Hawa"1



PRINTING, FILM AND SEPARATIONS PH Productions Pte Ltd, Singapore


Torey Brown and the girls from Columbia River Outngger, Walter GUild, Todd Bradley, Suzy Homby, John Gnffrths, Ker:h Robinson, "The POI Boys" wnh special thanks to Bnan Mulv,1ney.

COVER PHOTOGRAPH: Daphne Houghard. Olympic kayak paddler Sheila Conover strokes for OflShore In the '96 Catahna race.

We live ill exciting times! Witll regard to tile development of outrigger calloe paddlillg worldwide, so mud: is goillg on ill so many different places, on so mallY differellt levels, tllat it is difficllit to keep "1', eud: one of liS is contriouting. 10 tllis growth si"'l'ly by being illl'o/z'ed.

At the illdit'idllallet,e/, amongst tile IIY1'e of training and taking 011 trigger canoe racing so st'Tiollsly, it toould seem that there is, in some places, a lIeed to consider takillg the time to nurture filii and frietldsllil' - to appreciate this element of canoe paddling and to recognise wllat it offers at dllll, grass roots Ieoei.

Time 10 experience the non-racing aspects of outrigger calloe paddlillg is vital to a fillfilillg inooltemen! willi the sport. Create social «ctioities centred «round l1flddling, share blOwledge willi oiher«, iear» abtlllt and resl'ect the heritage of tire outrigger calloe. In tI,is way tlu' trill' spirit of 011 trigger canoe paddling - 11101111 and ohan« - will be ul/rtured locally, allll, as tile sport grows, spread globally,

III this book .'1011 will meet many people w"ose love of and respect for till! outrigger canoe shine« tlrrollgll their desire to slmre witll other« Mallalo to then: for their SIII'I'(lrl alld Cl",trilJIIliollS wllich assist ill sllTeadillg the spirit of canoe culture arolllllltile pume).

Tllallk .'1011 too for yOllr support of this aim by bllying our third tlOll/llle of Kn'nu Culture. We trl/st tllat YOI; will be illspired by wl,al you read alld see withill,

Mahalo 1111; loa

Stetle West and Rosie West

r '~·"·"""'-""'''_'·····"7·'''''.7C .. C·-C~=,~"T,;C=,·~''~-


We receive a great deal of correspondence, so we thought to share some with you. E-mail Is proving to be a particularly useful asset for our sport which Is spread so far and wide.

Mahalo to every one of our supporters and to those who took the time to send us words of encouragement and praise from all over the planet We trust that with your continued support, Ka'nu Culture will play an important role in the growth of outrigger canoe paddling. Send email to: kanu@ozemall.com.au

Mlme·Version: 1.0

Date: Thu. 5 Sep 199614:15:16 ·1000 To: kanu@ozemail.com.au (Steve West)

From: mberwind@maui.com (Michael W. Berwind) Subject KA'NU CULTURE




Aloha from Maui

I wanted to write and let you know how much I have enjoyed your two volumes of Katnu Culture. Volume 1 was good but Volume 2 was great. If you top it with Volume 3, I will need a Valium to come down off the high! Rarely have I seen a sports publication that delivers this kind of quality and value.

For those of us who are lust getting started with paddling, your two volumes are a gift from the Gods.

Regards, Michael W. Berwind

(Mahalo nui loa for your hearl·warming words.)

Date: Wed, 10 JuI199619:23:59 ·0500

From: Barry Thomas <bazzat@ozemail.com.au MIME·Version: 1.0

To: Steve West <kanu@ozemail.com.au> Subject: KANU CULTURE, VOLUME 2


Just purchased Kanu Culture Volume 2. My knowledge of the sport and its cultural heritage has lust tripled In the past hour of reading. As outrigger canoeing spreads to ever more distant places, the sort of knowledge contained in Ka'nu Culture will be critical to maintaining the sport's unique and addictive feel. Thankyou.

Regards, Barry Thomas.

(So pleased to know Kanu Culture is really making a difference)

Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 07:54:59 -0700 From: Ibie@lx.netcom.com (LISA BIE) Subject: 1995 ISSUE

To: kanu@ozemail.com.au (Steve West)





, ~


Hi Steve!

After I had sent you email. I attended the second annual Hokule'a Celebration at Chrissy Fields, San Francisco. At a booth selling her pictures along with your 1995 issue, was Daphne Houghard.

I immediately purchased Ka'nu Culture along with my long distance race pictures.

I have told all my teamates how beneficial your books are and also recommended that they purchase both Issues. In tact, my sister has not yet returned my 1996 issuel I really appreciate the attention you and your staff has given to the sport and your customers. Thanks again and we will be waiting for the next issue!

Aloha, Lori-Ann Saguindel

(Mahalo from Rosie and myself as the "staff' at Batinl Books.)

Date: Mon, 28 Oct 199610:52:11 +0800 (HKT) From: Dr Anne Lytle <mnlytle@usthk.ust.hk> To: Steve West <kanu@ozemail.com.au> Subject: USED CANOEI

X-X-Sender: mnly1le@ustcc3.ust.hk MIME-Version: 1.0

Hons KonS



Dear Steve Wowl I am so excited to have discovered this great community of people passionate about outrigging. Myself and several others have only been paddling outriggers (here in Asia, dragon boats tend to take the spotlight) for a litUe more than a year now, and we are totally hooked.

There Is nothing I would like more than to really spread enthusiasm for the sport across Hong Kong, and potentially Into southern China. Of course, starting off such an endeavour is a bit difficuh, which is why we want to find a used canoe to conserve on finances a bit until we get a larger base of people. I would so much appreciate any assistance that you could provide in helping us find one! My contacts in the outrigger world now are zero, but hopefully will grow with timel

So please, we would value any assistance that you could provide to us In locating a canoe. Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you againl

Regards, Anne Lytle

(I am pleased to say we managed to purchase and send an OC6 to Hong Kong)

Hi Steve I first want to say your book Is "Biblical" to the outrigger community, particularly In such outrigger desolate areas as New York City (but where this desolation is now changing). The first Hawaiian outrigger canoe to hit the shores of NYC is now at the 79th Street Boat Basin on the Westside, nine blocks from my apartment. With the (surprisingly enthusiastic) support of New York City Parks & Recreation, the Hawaiian Class Racer was hauled in on 10 May 1996.

This marks the first year the East coast has enjoyed formal six person outrigger races. Virginia has a regatta as well as a Massachusetts. In 1997, races will be popping up in New York, New Jersey and Florida, as more athletes and supporters get involved. Presently there are eight canoes I know of on the East coast. Teams vary from top national and olympic paddlers, to strong club teams, to total novices.

For those who love outrigger canoe paddling, it is a very exciting time as the sport explodes onto the East coast. Even with all the newness of outrigger paddling, much of the sense of unity and tradition remains connected to the sport. Outrigger canoe paddling in the East, I feel, is not a trend but a beginning of something more permanent in our lives. As the captain of New York Outrigger, I have trained and organised a team of nationally ranked paddlers. We have garnished trophies in every race competed in on the East coast. Better yet, with the canoe in the heart of New York City, we are able to draw from a ten million population to cultivate a grassroots team of top local athletes, a team that will grow, train hard together and have strength, heart and commitment. New York Outrigger has a women's team captained by Unda Santos a former coach from Guam.

So here it is In Its infancy. Every link to technique, strategy and philosophy of outrigger paddling is vital to us. The season comes to a close around the beginning of December. For three months thereafter, it is cross training and Concept 2 time trials. I will be busy also at that time with finding sponsors. I would be happy to share my sponsor proposals with others as well as learn how others have handled sponsorship, a possible topic for Volume3?

I am truly happy to be a part of the family of outrigger canoe paddlersl Thank you for Ka'nu Culture, It Is Indispensable.

From: NYOUTRIG@aol.com

Date: Mon, 7 Oct 199614:52:49 ·0400 To: kanu@ozemail.com.au

cc: NYOUTRIG@aol.com



Roger Meyer

OffShore California Women's Crew

Interview with JoJo Toeppner, Mindy Clarke, Sheila Conover BY STEVE WEST PHOTOS SUE NEIL AND DAPHNE HOUGHARD

E mbraci,~g the "" best in attitude towards the s1'ort, whilst at the salll!' time possesslIIg COllllllltlllt'llt and a lote of the ocean, ti,e OffSirore Califomia Open Women's team utilises their skills togetlrer with a dedication to be the very best tlley can be. In short tlrey represent all that can be achieved in canoe paddling.

At the 1996 Bankoli Na Walrine 0 Ke Kai Moloka'i Clmmlei race, Offshore California women's crew tVOII - for ti,e telltl! time. In terms of world ranking, no other women's team comes close to /rar'ing dominated outrigger canoe racing in the sallie fashioll. III tllis sense ti,e OffShore Californ;a Open WornI'll'S crew lias created a status wliicll is legelldary in proportions. Ti,e record books documen: unrivalled successes in not only tire Molaka'i races but in all other major international events to wlriclr they Itave cared to commit their minds alld bodies.

I met ti,e crew for this illterview, on Hamilton Island after tlleir record breaking 1996 victory witll only nine paddlers instead of the permitted ten. The most striking quality which grew clearer as tire interview progressed, is that despite strong individuality, ti,e group's foms on calloe paddling and tlleir full commitment to eacll other as team mates is what sets them apart. Wllat;s 1II0re, tI,e prevailing attitude is one of pure mjoyment.

Their training, to some degree, goes against the grain of wlmt outrigger canoe paddling is fundamentally based all - time in ti,e canoe togetller - as tlley tend ollly to come togetller on race days. There ;s complete faitll ill one another's commitment to training and to the sport. There is undeniable athleticism, technical skill and ability. There is love for ti,e sport alld each other. All tlris coming with tile absellce of destructive ego. Theee are the elements wlricll combine to make this crew an awesome force.

I want to get your impressions of why women I,ave been attracted to outrigger calloe paddling in such large numbers?

/0/0: In Australia it seems to have taken off in a big way, whereas in California the growth seems to have levelled off. In Australia five years ago, there were a few women's teams but now there are probably ten times that and the number of women in each club is way more. Before, each club had one tearn of women. It is great to see the sport expanding and in talking to them the excitement just rubs off on you. Outrigging is a sport which is a great community gatherer. You build friendships all over the world while learning a lot about different people.

Are there as many female participa1lts as there are male in Califonlia?

Mindy: At a regatta there might be five or six canoes left on the beach for a women's race and none for the men. We have about thirty-five to forty women's crews right now and about forty to forty-eight men's crews - it is pretty close. During the ironman season, the girls' participation drops off a little.

Does this mean there aren't so mallY women doing the distance races?

Mindy: Not so many but then again the Moloka'i event has grown bigger and bigger as far as women's participation goes, which amazes me, It was climbing, then it took a dive for a while and now women's numbers are climbing all the time.

10Jo, you've paddled one more Moloka'i than Mindy?

Mindy wasn't with me for the first crossing in 1979 because she was in Australia.

To what extent do you think that the foullding of tl,e Na Wahine 0 Ke Kai (the women'« Moloka'i) kick-started WOtllellS participaHolI in the sport?

/0/0: A lot. In fact the original women who did the crossing had to sneak in to the finish behind the men. They are the ones who run the race now. You have to have so much respect for what they achieved. It doesn't matter if you come first, if you can just get your canoe from Moloka'i to Oahu that is a feat in itself. The number of


Ka'11u Cultu'll! - OltSho'le Cali~o'l11ia Women

people who could actually achieve this is so small, that it makes the crossing an achievement in itself and if you have good showings in terms of competitors, you are just that much more excited about the race.

SIleila: I was part of that '79 crew and I was only sixteen at the time. Outrigger Canoe Club was first and we were second, and I think that what seemed to happen was that for the Hawaiians, canoe racing had been about culture and tradition but then here was this California team, year after year coming over and finishing first, second or third. Now that we have had this long streak of good results, people have started to say, "Hey these paddlers are coming over and winning in our backyard!"

Offshore Canoe Club and Outrigger Canoe Club Hawaii, have played a huge part in raising the level of competition in women's outrigger canoe paddling. Over time people saw us, trained athletes, coming over, jumping in a canoe and winning. Paddlers began thinking, we had better start putting out our cigarettes and quitting the junk food. It is no longer good enough to paddle just for the sake of culture and tradition. Now we should train and practice hard. As a result the level of women's paddling skills has jumped out of sight.

1010: I would say our first team would be middle of the pack today which indicates how the level of skill and fitness has improved in the sport. OffShore has had to get better with each year to stay where we are.

Milldy: To stay on top, we have to evolve our training, our technique and so on. SIleila: At the moment in Hawaii there is a huge resurgence of going back to their roots and the culture; teaching Hawaiian in schools and the old way. I think that an awareness of other facets such as health and fitness and competitiveness has helped


increase the numbers as Mindy was saying. Now we have all these women thinking, "I want to cross that channel too!"

It seems to be venj much the perceptitm of OffShore - that it is comprised of a "dial~a~crewlf made up of Olympic kayak paddlers. Was the first OffS',ore crew made up of kayak paddlers?

/0/0: Not the first year. What happened was that as the crew evolved I was the on1y kayak paddler (although I was mainly a gymnast). Then Billy Whitford started encouraging paddlers to back-up their training with kayak paddling and asked if I would help coach Sheila. I had so much fun doing it that I thought I might as well do it again. A lot of our team has gotten into kayaking through starting with outrigging. So kayaking is our back-up sport. You can paddle on your own and it is sports specific. That is how we have evolved so we find it funny when people say, "Oh, they're just a bunch of kayakers." We know the truth, we are outrigger paddlers first.

Sheila: They can us "ringers", but the truth is we started out as outrigger paddlers. You would consider yourselves outrigger paddlers first alld foremost?

Mindy: Yes and we always have been.

Sheila: One of our girls was a rower and then she paddled outriggers for many years and now she just made the Olympic kayak team. So when people meet her in the future they are going to say, "Another Olympic kayaker". But she was paddling outrigger canoes years before she paddled kayaks. I suppose now you could say that kayaking is her bigger sport being in the Olympic team. She would be on this trip if she hadn't made it.

So what we are seeing now, as a result of outrigger racing expanding, is a greater cross~flow between paddle sports, especially kayaks. Maybe that simply is because kayak paddling is an Olympic sport which attracts top outrigger paddlers?

/oJo: Yeah, each Olympic year some of us jump into a kayak and try out.

Mindy: I think the thing is, most of us started with outrigger paddling and then went into kayak paddling. Along the way we have met kayak paddlers who then wanted to try outrigger paddling as it's more of a team sport.

from your perspective, how is team selection achieved with particular reference to Moloka'i?

Mindy: Every year is different in terms of how we select crews. Depending on who is available. Right now we find it better not to do team trials but just select a team. It is simpler and we avoid opening a can of worms caused by having people in competition with each other.

SlreiIa: Mindy looks at attitude. How well are you going to match with the core. Milldy: There is a core which tends to remain the same, generally made up of all the girls from the year before, less the few who can't make it. Others come in and out


every year. Sheila was in for a couple of years then went out kayaking for a couple of years. So you look around to see who is available to paddle with the core.

We don't do single outriggers over and over trying to find the strongest paddlers because we are looking for girls to mesh with. A few years ago Sharon and Vicki were just starting out in firefighting and couldn't make the Moloka'i team, so we picked up Julie. Some years we don't have as many core paddlers. This year for example, it will be hard, as it will be right after the Olympics, lots of our paddlers will be trained up and ready to paddle back in the outriggers. Instead of having eight paddlers and looking for two, we are going to have fourteen who could all sit in the number one canoe.

Sneil«: Also I remember after one of our workouts, drinking coffee and eating muffins, we all decided that it was getting tough for everyone to come down and make every single outrigger workout on top of our individual training schedules. So we agreed that each do their own thing. We trust that each one of us is training and having that faith in each other allows us to get together and just go. That is what has


happened ever since.

Milldy: That is our key and it works for us, but I don't think that it would work for most others, as we have the experience plus the excitement of new people. That seems to be the key to the whole structure of OffShore. We have evolved so much. Back in '86 we were doing two workouts a day, one seven to eleven am and one four to six pm and everybody made practice. Now we have gone our own ways. We realise that to get great athletes we have to throw it open and say, "You come down when you can make it, we're not going to put a time restriction on you." We understand that outrigger paddling means a big time commitment and to get six or twelve people together at one time is not easy. We do have times when the club works out, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and whoever makes that, makes it.

/010: What we do at the beginning of the season is to decide which of the races we can all tum up to.

Sheila: We also mix up first, second, third crew paddlers in different canoes and it's not until race day that we all get together. In a way race days become our practice days to see how we are going!

It seems tl,at there are always certain common threads. Jolo has always bee" til ere, Mindy steering aud Billy Wllitford as coacll, How important is it to you 1010 that Mi"dy has always been a part of tire core?

/010: If Mindy was not at the back it would be a hard thing. Billy is our Dumbo's Feather, he makes the magic and we go. We have total faith in him. He can do the weirdest off-the-wall things - like leave you in for hours - because he has the unique ability to read athletes. That is where our faith rests with him.

It is not a question of plillillg paddlers out just because their time ;s lip?

Mindy: Yeah and that is important. I know they are doing their job and they know I am doing my job so we can focus on the task at hand. I don't have to worry about anything except steering while Billy takes care of the rest. The level of trust in each other is very high. We are not distracted thinking about whether the others are


working hard enough or whatever. We all know that we will work hard to pull one another out and we all trust Billy to make sure that we have the right combinations. /0/0: It is amazing we can be out paddling through major traffic and unless Mindy says to look, I won't be looking up at all - just staring at the manu. If you can keep your head in the canoe, nine tenths of the battle is won.

Of course we see tile sallie trend with tire top men'« cretos - steerers wlro remain tire same year iff year out, like Tommy Connors witlr Outrigger for marry years, unti! recentls:

Sheila: One thing I have spoken about in the past, in regard to how to select a women's team, was not to rank them. If we ranked our team it would be detrimental. Going out and doing solo canoe time trials, run time trials, pull up contests every Monday or whenever, might destroy the uniqueness and respect that we have for each other. That is what I have told people about our team. We don't rank ourselves. Men maybe need ranking because of the nature of their egos. (A guy thing? Ed.) Giving each women a responsibility and making each equally important encourages respect for each other. We can sit in any seat. Every person on our team can steer, can sit at stroke or four. We know our responsibilities if the canoe flips. And of course we have practised a lot. I really think it is important for women, because of their nature, not to rank them as best, second best and so on.

So if you're ra"ked fifth paddler iff a canoe, you don't feel comfortable?

Mindy: Everyone knows that you could be pushed out at any time, which probably doesn't help either.

A"d tile paddler ra"ked number one ill the canoe may get a little nonchalant?

Sheila: It creates problems. In our club, because Mindy makes the final selection, it is done on the basis of attitude. A stronger paddler may not get selected because she


does not mesh with the rest of the team. We take the weaker paddler who has potential and a great attitude over the paddler who is quicker but whose attitude is a problem.

Mindy: If we had someone we didn't get along with, would we have any fun? We

do this for fun. We want to win sure, but we also have stressful jobs and we have to do this for fun. It must be convenient, not too difficult and not unpleasant. Otherwise we may as well be doing something else.

It seems it Oldy takes one person to spoil a wl,ole road trip away. I ',ave seen it happen Oil support boats where maybe the challgeovers arell't goillg to pIau because the coad, has decided to alter tllings atld then tl,is one paddler just gets really down atld starts to pull evenJ0tle else dow" too.

/010: We have been in workouts where we have this one girl who has a temper every now and then. If you put her in the fastest boat and she is in a temper, the boat will just not go. Everyone feels tentative.

Getting back to womell being attracted to outrigger canoe radng; perl,aps we could talk some more about tl,is.

SI,eila: If we could talk about women in sport in general I think we can understand better why we have so many women now attracted to outrigger paddling. Women are really breaking new grounds, going faster, further, higher. Like Janet Evans in 1988 beat Mark Spitz's record for example. With women in sport just getting faster and better there is increased awareness of women's participation. In the past, sports commentary was always about how graceful or petite a woman was, now the commentary runs along the lines of women's athleticism or strength which portrays us in a very different light.

/0/0: There arc now more female commentators. That is really important because only females have empathy as to what it is like to be a top woman athlete. These women are also better at understanding what it takes to perform at a high level - you don't limit yourself to being concerned about a broken fingernail for example. You have to set new goals. We are only just scratching the surface. We don't know how far we can go yet.

In parts of the world where a strong beaclt culture exists, females I,ave ge"erally been seen to sit on the beach whilst the guys did their thing, wl,ctl,cr it was surfi"g, wi"dsurfi"g or wltatever. Outrigger paddling is providillg a fantastic opportunity lor women to be involved in all open oceall sport.

/0/0: I remember our first year in Australia. We brought the canoes with us by cutting them in thirds to get them in the plane, then the guys put them together. We (Newport Beach, California) raced against Newport Beach, Australia. They used every angle to promote it - men against women; they were in surf boats and we were in an outrigger canoe.


When we were practising and getting our bronze medallions in order to compete against the men, we asked if the guys would let us out in the surf boats. There had never been women in the boats, and they had only just begun to allow women in surf dubs six months before. The girls on the beach told us that we could not ask to do that! But we couldn't see why not, after all they were going to get in our canoe! So that was our mind set right from the start. Since then things here have developed out of sight.

TI,ere is a fair share of women sports stars involved wit" outriggers in Australia, a cOImtry whicl, has relied 0" sport to make its mark Oil the rest of the world. For example, Lisa Curry-Ke""y I,as done a lot to encourage women to take lip olltrigger canoe radllg ;11 0:. Has thi» been the case wit" individuals ill America?

/oJo: Outrigging is such a small obscure sport within America given the country's size and population. You can do well and your neighbour won't even know you!

5/11'iln: Lisa is a household name in Australia because of her achievements in swimming. It does seem that Australian athletes are promoted as role models and ambassadors - and put on the back of cereal packets! Whilst in the States it is the all male, major league sports stars (baseball, basketball and football) who arc treated that way. To be recognised as a women athlete in USA you might do it as a gymnast or figure skater.

/0/0: All short term sports.

Milldy: Janet Evans is a good example of a women athlete who got recognition, but she would never come and paddle because the sport is too small. Whilst in Australia having the ironmen participating in outrigger canoe racing lifts the profile of the sport. In America most people wouldn't even know what an ironman was.


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Available via Mail Order $135 + $5 freight Ph/Fax 07 5479 1327 email - kanu@ozemail.com.au o.un ORDE1I.5 http://www.ozemail.com.aul-kanu PO Box 506 Maroochydore Austra.lia Q4558



Top American ironmen are more popular in Australia than they are in their own country!

So you must get a buzz whell you travel to Hawaii, wl,ere you're well knoum ... from obscurity to ti,e brigllt ligllts?

/0/0: It's fun! Everyone knows us. When we go home people ask "What do you do?" Mindy: "Outrigger canoeing? What's that? You row?"

Have you done allY exhibitioll paddlillg?

/0/0: In Montreal, Canada at the Kayak Worlds but that's all.

Wllat about jUllior paddling, do you fi"d there are many girls takillg part?

/0/0: Billy Whitford started the Aquatic Centre in Newport Beach and we all helped him with that. It is how we have got young girls outrigger paddling. When they paddle their kayaks in the mornings we talk with them and Mindy helps coach them with Sheila and Sharon. They have come across to outrigger paddling from there. So we have a good junior team. It is a kick to see them paddling.

Your training conditions in California are in relatively calm waters, yet your Moloka'i results prove that you have the ability to Ilalldle rough, large seas. What is the secret?

/0/0: We go to Moloka'i to get the big water. When Billy was living in California, he did what he could to simulate rough water by loading down the motor boat and flying past us so as the water hit the ama. If there is ever a swell inside the jetties we always go and ride them. It has been hard, but with the team having been together for so long, we have become used to the Moloka'i conditions and we have hit it on and off a few times. Now I think it has ended up being our forte - catching and


riding waves - which does seem weird as we come from a flat water area.

M;IIdy: We scratch around to find anything to ride at home. When we get to Moloka'i there is so much to ride and it is like "Wow this is easy!" I don't think that living where we do, we are at any disadvantage. I have steered that race as much as any other girl has and it is not as if crews actually paddle across the channel for practice. The majority probably paddle away from big waves. I think I have probably paddled it more than most other girls and I have certainly done it in all conditions.

Do you feel that other crews hope for rough water ill the hope that OffShore may bomb out because of it?

/0/0: Well maybe tlley do but we know that we would not bomb out.

Slreila: One year it was a glass-off. Outrigger went down to the ocean, they threw rocks in, beat it around and cursed it because they wanted big seas. We did get big seas. And we still beat them!

M;IIdy: It has so much to do with experience on the water. The first seven years we did not win a race. As each year passed we chalked it down - gathered experience - "We can't do this because this is what happens". We had to fine tune our racing in order that we would win, whether it was changeovers, technique, equipment or whatever, we learned what it takes to win. Having won, we know how to keep going back and winning.

10/0: It is definitely a case of those who make the least mistakes overall will tend to finish better. And we all make mistakes out there. We have had luck with some things we have pulled off. I remember one time Billy had his hands over his eyes as Mindy was coming down this wave in big water. There were three of us in the


water and I ended up on the wrong side. The two others were getting in and J knew if I was fast enough I wouldn't flip it by being on the wrong side. In the meantime number five got flipped up in the air and by chance landed in her seat too. When Billy looked to see us all in our seats, he did not know how we did it. We didn't get to find out how until after the race. We definitely have had some luck!

You also create your own luck. If you uieren't strong enough, fit enough, fast eJlough, experienced enough, some "luck" would neuer happen! Do you haoe a best and a worst Moloka'i?

/0/0: Well the worst is easy. That is when we flipped the ama under and lost ten feet of the canoe. It took fourteen hours to tow us in. That was in 1982, paddling a Koa canoe. Mindy and I were just getting out and climbing the steps of the support boat when we saw this huge thing come out of the water. I thought it was whale, but what we were actually seeing was the canoe up in the air. A rogue wave, sucked them up and spat them out!

Mindy: The only thing we didn't know, being inexperienced, was that Koa canoes don't have flotation tanks.

/0/0: You need to get the water out and re-float it with scuba tanks. When did the front ten feet break away?

Mindy: Not right away. When they decided to lift the front up onto the escort boat to get the water out, a wave smacked it and just broke the front end off and it was over. It was a sickening feeling.

How far into the race were you?

Sheila: About three hours - and we were ahead.

/0/0: The saddest part for Mindy and me in the runner boat, was circling around picking up all the little bits of Koa. It was sad.

Mindy: The runner boat took us back and the big boat towed the canoe. We didn't get in until after dark. It was a shame as that would have been the first year we would have won.

S/Ieila: What is your favourite one?

/010: It is hard to pick a favourite one. The last one is always the freshest in your mind. In '95 we broke the record and had everything going for us - current and seas. It was just a ripper with swells to ride the whole way. Not big, just jump on and go swells, so we would get fifteen or twenty feet of free ride every time. That was definitely a lot of fun. I just love it when the water is big - even huge. You are out in the middle of the channel and there are no rocks to bang your head.

Some of the races I've been in you are underwater and you can still move your paddle! You just have to flare it and away you go. The girls can't believe that when you come back up from under, you are still in time. The more exciting races have been when the water is big, when you are way up high and having to lean out over


the gunwales to grab any water, then the next time you are submarined. There are different flavours to each race.

S/,eila: Do you remember when we paddled through that school of dolphins!

1010: Oh yeah! On the Governors wall in Hawaii there is this picture of us paddling with dolphins jumping right off our bow!

Sheila: It was awesome!

1010: Everyone's heart rate shot up. Billy came up alongside and asked me what I was doing. "Dolphins Billy, dolphins!" I screamed out. He shouted that it was a ninety-tllree and I would have to bring it down. It was so funny. No one had realised because we were just so stoked with the dolphins. To get focussed after that was a major feat.

Sheila: That was the first year we won.

1010: A photographer got in the water and took the photo which then became a painting hanging in the Governor's office. It couldn't have been staged better. In the photo, there's the canoe, two dolphins jumping and me. In the background, there is a valley and a bird. You would not believe it!

Sheila: We live a charmed life. We often ask each other if there is anything else better we could be doing.

Many paddlers would find it hard to ullderstand tl,e number of times OffSllOre ha« "ow won Moloka'i. I" particular illdividual paddlers like 1010 m,d Mindy.

Milldy: I don't think they realise how difficult it is to come back year after year to defend your title. The few times that we have lost, it has been a big deal.

Billy said after last year's Moloka'i that you could not and would not go on winning - and of course time and the law of averages will take care of that.

10/0: Billy says that usually you cannot keep the ability to stay on top indefinitely and I guess time, as you say, will take care of that.

Mindy: One thing we never do is go into a race thinking we are going to win. Never! Jolo: The Outrigger guys laugh at us about the way we talk. They say it sounds like we are always fifth, sixth or tenth!

Is that the way Billy has taught you to tl,ink?

Milldy: Never to think it is a done deal. Anything may and can happen with nature, even though it has paid off for us over most of the years.

10/0: We had one race in our sixth year when we were about half way across and saying to ourselves "We're gonna do it! We're gonna do it!" Mother nature decided differently and one huge wave flipped us, ama under. That's when the nose broke off and we floated around watching the rest of the canoes go by.

SlIeila: One really good thing about our club, is that we believe whether we win, lose or draw, we are gonna race hard and we are gonna have fun. If we win. that is great. If we don't, that's OK.


JoJo: In this way, we make sure it is always a good race. It soullds to me like a positive alld ellcouragillg attitude.

Milldy: We always think that we are going to be behind at the start. We do not expect to be in the lead right away so we don't panic and just do our best.

1010: We are behind at the start quite often. It seems we take a while to warm up! You know I would say that the main strength existing in our canoe is the faith that we have in each other - you just know that we are all pulling our guts out. You focus on pulling just a little harder than anyone else!

/0/0 you sit at stroke for most of th« time?

/010: Because I am the tallest - 5'4" - ha, hal

Milldy: In this crew each one thinks that the others are better than they are. There is not one person who thinks that they are the best paddler. This comes from having so much respect for each other - knowing and believing that the other paddlers are such good athletes. Egos can pull a crew apart.

1010: Mindy and I usually go to the men's Moloka'i and it is interesting to sec the difference in Aloha between the women and the men. Before the women's race, after the prayers, we walk around to hug others and wish them a safe crossing. There is a genuine concern for others. The men are giving each other stink eye and would say nothing to another crew unless it was rude. It is neat to see the difference. I am sure glad I paddle with the women!

Perl,aps it brillgs out the warrior ill IIIe,,?

10/0: Yeah, they figure they are gonna attack. For us, it is "Have a safe crossing and we will sec if we can go all out to get there before you."


Heilig women the mind set is softer alld more compassionate ...

Milldy: We can be that outside of the canoe on land, but not ill the canoe!

You are puttillg yourself ill this situation whereby, to a greater or lesser extent, you must experiellce dellial of some female qualities in order to deal witl, the challetlge to overcome it?

/0/0: To see us on the beach before a race compared with in the canoe on the start line - phew, completely different!

Sheil«: You mentioned the warrior in men, weill don't think women are given enough credit for the warrior in them. We can be soft and compassionate and also strong and powerful.

Milldy: The 1996 Hamilton Cup has been amazing for us as it is the first time we have raced with men. It was great! We were ahead of guys and we were racing with the men's crews all the time, jostling with some for the whole race. They would come up on us and we would pull up on them. Some of the stuff they were saying to us was just terrible! Ordinarily we might be with one or two canoes only, but in this event, there were canoes everywhere. We amazed ourselves by passing men's teams coming around Pentecost,

S/leila: It was huge! It really kept everyone honest. How many guys thought they were going to be beaten by a girls crew? Everyone in our crew has said, "Are we gonna train hard for next year. We are gonna race those guys and beat them!"

You ',ave gailled the respect of many of those men that you beat. Some came ill saying, "Have we got some work to do!"

/0/0: We just don't give up!

Milldy: We came into the finish at the Coke bottle with two men's crews, one on either side, going all out - and we beat them. They were going full throttle and we were going full throttle. And we beat them! It was the most exhilarating experience. 10/0: They just did not think that we would stick at it and finish hard like that.

SlJeila: Because we are women does not mean that we are happy to finish as the first women over the line. No way! We wanted to beat those guys and we did.

10/0: Billy always laughs because it takes us about an hour, or an hour and a half, just to warm up. So by the time we were coming up to Pentecost the canoe began to get up and move. A little late huh? After that it didn't matter who was in the canoe, it just came screaming back to Hamilton Island and the finish. That leg was the fastest that we had gone in the whole race.

SIIeila: We kept thinking, "This race should be longer". It went so fast. I only made two changes. From before we rounded Dent Island to the open stretch to Pentecost, then in again at Pentecost to Plumb Pudding Island. We asked Sue in the support boat if we were half way when we were nearly finished!

TIre Hamilton Cup could be a regular event for you then? The prize money should


help make it an easier choice?

/010: We would love to. We also sell sweat shirts and t-shirts to raise money.

Mindy: The prize money is a big incentive. To come and win pays for our tickets in combination with the sweat shirt and t-shirt sales. We covered about $400 for each person and our cost each to get here was around $795, so with the A$6000 prize money, we are fully covered.

Sheila: We are so excited to be in Australia. Everyday I have heard Julie say, "Wow we're in Australia! Can you believe it?"

Can we expect a lotlg winning streak from OffShore girls at Hamilton Island?

/010: They have done tests on men which show that once they win they produce more testosterone which in tum helps to keep the winning streak happening. We are definitely going to get in better shape for next year. People were saying that we were hot - wait till we are in better shape!

Sheila: That is exactly what I was thinking. I am gonna increase my mileage, do this, do that, to get in shape for Moloka'i. I also want to get a really good picture of the Hamilton Island race to stick on the wall and when I look at it, I will be thinking, "One more run before I go to bed!"

There are obviously many other strong tuomen's crews arouttd the Pacific. Whicl, ones do you have the most respect for?

/010: First off, you have to respect any women's crew out there. We have most respect for the ones we are going to have the battles with, Panamuna in Australia, Outrigger, Kailua, Hui Nalu, Healani in Hawaii and on mainland USA, Lanikila and Dana Point. There is a ton of talent out there. I think it is just like football and basketball teams who might all be excellent athletes, it just depends on whether they have their act together.

Sheila: In Hawaii, I would say I have a lot of respect for the humdrum teams who don't have club houses on the beach and a cast of thousands helping them out. A team like Kailua, who have been coming on really strong over recent years, they have been second and third doing really well. This wonderful group of women who train in solo canoes. I have a lot of respect for them as they are basically a backyard operation.

/0/0: At the start of the season we go and work on the canoes. We have a warehouse and Bud (Hohl) organises the fixing up of the canoes. It takes a lot of effort but it is a good feeling to know everyone is putting a lot of time and energy in. You could not do it without everyone's help.

Sheila: We aU learn to rig the canoes also. Billy showed us. The women race first and the men don't care about our rigging, we have to rig our own canoes. In many other clubs the men do a lot for the women but not in our club.

/0/0: We arrive at the race venue first and the men arrive later. So we take the canoes


off the trailers and rig them up. Billy taught us how to rig in a very funny way. He said that if we wanted to do this sport we would have to learn how to rig the canoes. We were just talking to each other and thinking "Yeah, sure." He told us to watch closely and started rigging up while we kept on talking and laughing together. Later on, paddling around an island in our bay, we stopped to get water. When we came to paddle home, the canoes were unrigged and Billy was going off in a motor boat saying "1 told you to watch!" We were all thinking "Oh my gosh! Did anyone pay any attention?"

SlIeila: If you wanna get home you have got to rig the canoe. He gave us one hint:

"Do not get the line in the sand!" There we were, trying to figure it out. Which way does this go over? Or is it under or across? We did get it all together finally. It wasn't pretty but it got us home. After that day, we learned about rigging.

Witl, the club's reputatioll for strong womerr's crews, lIow is it tluu yo" dOll't I,ave strong men's crews?

1010: There used to be. They have come and gone over the years. A few of the other clubs in the area have strong men's crews so the guys tend to swap over to them. Any of the guys we have had that were good are with other dubs now.

Milldy: We put a lot of emphasis on the women's crew. We do have novices or first year paddlers. So we really concentrate on the women and the women concentrate on the women. We know we have to take care of ourselves if we want to do well. SlIeila: OffShore male paddlers are not year round athletes. They tend to be seasonal. Sure they are athletic and they enjoy their paddling, but not full time like we do. You know we might get a few, maybe three, who want to go hard and train all year but then they end up in a canoe with three others who wanna drink beer and really just be social paddlers. So the good paddlers end up going to the more committed dubs that train all year round.

Milldy: The thing is we have found a recipe that works for us - for this team of women - maybe it wouldn't work for others. We have evolved around what suits us, in terms of our workouts and how we come together as a team.

SlIeila: This has been since 1979. My very first canoe race was with lolo and we were not even in the first canoe. There would always be lots of girls coming down and I was new to the club. There would be six or nine paddlers and we would be with a put-together team. We would be driven down the coast, dropped off at the beach then have to swim through the kelp beds. I remember swimming out to a fishing boat once and asking, "Excuse me, can you take us out there so we can get in that canoe?" because one crew had paddled to the turn buoy, jumped out and swam back, leaving us to swim out so we could paddle home.

Mindy yo" I,ave paddled every womet,'s Moloka'; except the first one?

That was 1979 and we have won nine times - six in a row - then we lost one and we


have won the last three. (NolV jollr, making it ten times jn all.) Over the years wllo have been some of your best jnfluellces?

/0/0: Billy Whitford of course, Bud Hohl, Sandy Kahanamoku and John Raider. We used to have what I called the "Black Triangle," - made up of Bud, Billy and John Raider. Bud took care of the equipment, Raider raised all the money we needed and Billy trained us. Once they sucked you in, you couldn't leave!

Mindy: There are many people who have supported us over the years. Kala Kukea, Walter Guild, Dale Hope in Hawaii. Dale was on the escort boat often, when we won the first couple of years, helping us with the course. Kala did also - he used to meet us at the end of the race on his surf ski and paddle back in with us.

Do you ever paddle at tI,e Liliuokala,,; Race?

/0/0: A long time ago, but it is so close to Moloka'i and it is expensive to do both. Mindy: We also have Catalina the weekend after Liliuokalani and then two weeks later Moloka'i. It depends how serious we wanna be about Moloka'i.

It is a real full race and so rich in culture.

Mindy: I have done the Kona race three times now, but I prefer the Hamilton Cup. How does Hamilton Cup compare witl, Moloka'i?

Mindy: Hamilton is better. Moloka'i is prestigious, you definitely go there on a mission. You wanna do well and it is a hard core race. At the end of the race there is nothing in the way of festivities. We pull the canoes up on the beach followed by a lot of chit chat. Then everyone eats, crashes and leaves. There is no atmosphere, no function, no festivity. It is the last race of the year - and a big race too - and as a paddler, you really want something to happen.

Hamilton Cup is colourful with plenty of festivities and things to do. You get to meet other paddlers. I don't know about anyone else, but I have won enough races that I don't do it to win anymore. I do it for the experience and to have fun with friends. I do not need to come over and win another race. Being in Australia and a part of all this hoopla is the best part, something to remember for a long time.

Orrshorf California Hamilfon Cup 1996 Crew: Sheila Conol'u. Cafhy Whitford. Gina Aubrey. 1010 Toeppner. Sharon AllflsfY. Julie Wolfe. Vlcti Mills. Rebecca Rusch. Mindy Clarte.


JJWhat Ho! Hut Hoe! "

Tell someone that outrigger canoe paddling is practised in England and they will probably react with a broad grin and say "YOII are kidding!" "Really!" or "Get olllta here!" Bllt it is true. A small number of etltllllsiasts (abollt ttl! or fifteen) luroe been involved with 011 trigger paddling for almost ten years. Admittedly, there are colder and stranger places where ti,e sport is taking off - Canada atld parts of the USA are definitely colder (they have to be crazier) and Texas is evm stratlger. W11e11 YOIl tIJitlk of it then, wily not Eng/atld?

So how did outrigger canoe paddling come to be in England? Well it came about as a result of colonial ties with Hawaii, Captain Cook, that man 'Toots' Minvielle and the Honolllill Advertiser. Back in 1978, the bicentennial anniversary of Captain Cook's arrival in the Hawaiian Islands, 'Toots' Minvielle had the idea of sending a team of paddlers from Hawaii to Britain to paddle across the English Channel as


messengers of the spirit of Aloha. Well publicised by the Honolulu Advertiser and with USD 6000 raised by public donations, 'Toots' and seven others made the trip to England. They did what they set out to do, crossing the English Channel (twenty-six miles) in four hours and eleven minutes which created a great amount of publicity.

The steerer for that historic crossing made contact with Ka'nu Culture via email:

"I read with interest and many pleasant memories your reporting on the Hawaiian paddlers who crossed from Calais, France to . . Dover, England and gifted their Malia canoe to :.. the Captain Cook Museum.

. :""1 I was the steerer for the group. Our canoe : -~'ll was named the Wa'alele (Leaping or Dancing ;}II~ Canoe). I am sure the name has not been changed. It was a great adventure. We could not have had better team mates.

It had been our hope that our efforts would promote Va'a paddling in Europe and thaI we might find canoe friends as we promote our sport to the IOC, the goal being recognition as an Olympic event. To this end the Wa'alele has done herself proud. I now live in Maui. Aloha Meryl Lyons" hana@mauLnet

In the heartofLondo r ,;.' : ... '

Canoe Club has Qa~4"~,,__ ::~f;;;: _. "

outrIgger ctln.oepaddljjrs. _ fie~i - _

during the annual Green Rlller Race. 1991. approachIng Tower-Brldge~

.Race rules state there~ _ .. _, /beci

passeriger.llencet~' ,

The Making of the First Outrigger Canoes in the United Kingdom


W e first heard about the Mo/oka'i race from a television programme. Such was the effect that in 1987 five British paddlers competed in the men's Moloka'i race euen though they had neuer seen an outrigger canoe before, let alone paddled one! life was never to be the same again. Those paddlers came back fired with the enthusiasm which the sport in general. the event itself and the people involved help to generate, to do it again.


They had been fortunate to meet the legendary 'Toots' Minvielle who told them they could 'borrow' the outrigger canoe which he had donated to the Captain Cool: Museum in England after he crossed the English Channel. "You tell them I said you could use it." were his authoritative words. "Well I am not sure about that." said a nice lady at the museum. "I'll have to asl: the directors." They said "Yes."

When lve collected the canoe it was silting outside the museum looking sorry for itself.

It was going to take some work to get a mould off this. And so it was that the next few months saw us travelling a hundred miles two evenings a week to the Gaybo canoe factory to make a canoe. first preparing the original to make the mould from it. then cleaning the original and finally making our canoe.

The canoe 'Toots' had used was a Malia called WA'AlELf (leaping or Dancing Canoe) so we called ollr "ew canoe KEIKI WA'AlElE or Child of Da"cing Canoe. She ltlas blessed and launched into the English Channel off Brighton Beach one cold spring day in 1988. We made it fOllr hundred pounds (Mo/oka'i race weight) to help our practice (something we have often regretted) and in two halves so that it could be transported easily.

Since then one other canoe has been made from the mould by Woodmill Canoe Club,


Conuerred KI for solo rraining. Several converted Kayal:s fulnl an importont role in rhe devt'IoI'menr of ourrigger canoe paddling terhnique.

Belour: Connecuue bull:heads used to Join rhe rUIO halves of rhe Malia rogerher.

which represents the potenrial extenr of racing ure can do in Britain.

So, wirh a training canoe, our men's crew competed in the '88 and '89 Molol.:a'i. the lauer as Masters and finishing about sixth. It was whilst supporting them on these trips that I made a promise that one dall I would race in the women's Molol.:a'i.

In a September 1988 issue of Canoeist Magazine UK, John Griffith gives an amusing account of their trip, "Like all the best canoeing trips it all started in a bar in the depths of a British winter, , , more beer was ordered and within minutes details were finalised." All they had to go on was that " ... the race was forty miles long and was likely to take between six and seven hours, The waves could be twenty feet high and it was going to cost a lot of money." The crew made the journey and paddled with two paddlers from California and two from Hawaii and


made the crossing in 6:56:00, collecting the prize for being the crew who had travelled the farthest distance. In summing up, John goes on to thank their sponsors, Barclaycard and Access.

The Royal Canoe Club is definitely worth a visit, not just for excellent facilities, but for the wonderful hospitality of which you are assured. If you are an outrigger canoe paddler, they want to meet you, suck your brains dry and talk

. , ' story over several pints of wonderful "".~.~,. ':'''''': warm ale while dreaming of far off places in the Pacific. That is a unique quality of

""'~"~~"'.',,, the sport - it is so esoteric that you long to identify with others who understand your


passion, when you live so far away from '.'i,' ,,, ,:;..~, the action.

n(J;'Collllel~j My visit to the Royal Canoe Club was

run(:tlorlan,olo made in August, when Britain often ourrlggertanoes. enjoys its best weather. Located in

, Kensington, the Club occupies two pieces

of land. Trowlock Island is a stone's throw from the river bank and home to a small number of residents. The island is accessed by an interesting floating pontoon, winched across the narrow divide. Here the residents enjoy a unique lifestyle, being lovers of river life as many residents along the Thames, one of the world's most


famous rivers, have been for centuries.

Occupying a sizeable slice of Trowlock Island is the original "Royal" clubhouse, housing many snippets of memorabilia. Amongst the plaques and photographs is a letter of Royal Origin which formally permits the club to be known as "Royal" on account of having had royal membership and races at one time.

Alongside the original clubhouse is a storage shed and racks of canoes and kayaks, but the club now has a Sl'iffy new club house on the adjacent riverbank which has bar and dining facilities, showers and more paddle craft storage space on land recently purchased from British Petroleum.

Dragon boat racing is a popular club activity and as it seems all over the world now, dragon boat paddlers are becoming interested in outrigger canoe paddling. This seems to have been the major base from which the "Royal's" outrigger enthusiasts have emanated.

Two Malia canoes get regular use for training and from time to time for various other purpose. One is kept at the club, the other near Southampton on the south coast. The canoes are constructed in two sections in order that they can be more easily transported. They do fit, at a pinch, onto a car roof rack (size of car permitting) preferably two cars. Whilst I was there during this summer, a Londonbased restaurant called Blue Hawaii organised an outrigger competition using the two Malia canoes, involving eight other restaurants, also providing a barbeque and band. As long as it promotes the sport and the spirit of Aloha!

In order to train at suitable times and to run time trials and technique sessions,

Trowlock Island. The original site of the ROllal Canoe Club. the oldest canoe club In the world.

Now some of lIoU will relate to this lvhilst others simplll cannot ... paddling fullll clothed - hats. gloves and all. The Invigorating brace of winter air.


with Suzy Hornby, husband Griffith and·

bel~~e that the sport has more potential amongst ne'f'{c()mleg_~!Ia (dragon boat paddlers excluded) than to those already participating in paddle sports. They also agreed that if the sport is to take off in Britain, it would start on the south coast, where the climate is temperate and where there is already an abundance of ocean sport activity.

What is needed is the formation of at least two clubs with one canoe each in order to have inter-club racing thus providing a catalyst for more clubs, greater social activity and therefore more paddlers. Supply of canoes is a problem. Do they continue to make the Malia? Or docs someone have to become motivated enough to acquire the mould of a more popular up-to-speed design? This would take money, faith and commitment in believing the sport would flourish.

In this regard manufacture and promotion of solo outrigger canoes may be the place to start. Whilst in established outrigger canoe paddling areas the solo outrigger canoe has been popularised amongst six person canoes paddlers, the solo canoe as an introductory craft to new outrigger paddling areas would seem both practical and logical. Solo outrigger canoes are low cost and easily transported enabling the concept of outrigger canoe paddling, whether in Britain or any other part of the globe, to be more widely and rapidly promoted.


· , ,

~" . '"

Edward Maamatua) to send a canoe or mould to assist development there. Italy is keen to get started in solo outriggers and expand the sport from this basis.

Meanwhile, back to paddling on the Thames River, which is definitely unusual if you are used to the blue Pacific Ocean. The Thames has a stillness and calm about it, not to mention a sort of brown tinge, whilst along the river bank, mown lawns, willow trees, pubs, ancient buildings and bridges named after monarchs and war heroes, constantly remind you that this is England - the very heart of it.

Would you believe it, there is a pub called the 011 trigger just along the way from the Royal Canoe Club, but it is not frequented by the "Royal's" outrigger fraternity. A favourite pastime amongst some of the various pub's patrons, is to sit on the river wall ",-;histling or humming the Hawaii Fine 0 tune as the outrigger glides by, to shouts of "Book 'im Danno." As always, an outrigger canoe in a new location gets all the attention it deserves!

Paddling is not limited to the river with trips to the south coast and the ocean being a favourite. One of their major challenges is paddling around the Isle of Wight home to the Admirals Cup held at Cowes. This, taking around twelve hours, (preferably spread over two days) has been used as training for Moloka'i.


The (llomen's crew practising for the first time in the ocean off the south coast o( England during the summer (or their Bankoh No Wahine 0 Ke Ka; race, 1994.

How the First British Crew Came to Paddle the Bankoh Na Wahini 0 Ke Kai


I hod originally thought to join up with a foreign crew, but I figured no crew would want a women from England With little experience in outrigger canoe paddling. My white water paddling friends were scattered all over the country so getting together a team was going to be impossible. The answer to my problem was on my doorstep at the Royal Canoe Club as we had a strong dragon boat team unbeaten as National Champions.

I introduced the idea and a nucleus of enthusiasm manifested and l11as a done deal by the time a slide show of the men's race was presented to them, And so began twenty months of preparation which saw our number diminish from seventeen to ten due to postings overseas, babies and injuries. But ten Is what we needed to end up with so selection was a piece of ca~e'


We first paddled together in the winter o( February 1993 - it was cold and snow was falling. Gloves and woolly hats were standard gear. During that year we trained largely on the River Thames focussing mainly on technique, based on what our men's


crew had learned. and in racing Canadian canoes and watching videos. Over that winter we followed a strength training programme (improving our bust measurements no end) followed bll a good summer season paddling on the river.

In June 1994 we put to sea for the nrst time at Calshot in the Solent. With sea temperatures onlll 13°c we wore wetsuits and found the changeovers hard going. not made anll easier bll laughter and "8eached Whale" jokes. Despite all the chin-ups and gym work. we needed more.

Our final race preparation was to compete in the Great River Race. a twentytwo mile tradirional craft race on the Thomes from Richmond through london to Greenwich. We wanted to win our division with the fastest time and we did in 2:33:00. The next day we were on our way to Hawaii.


We arrived six days before the race and based ourselves at Waikiki. so as we could paddle the last part of the race for practice and familiarise ourselves with landmarks. reefs and the surf line. I remembered how our men's team hod come close to capsizing in 1989 just before the finish as one of Waikiki's famous rollers appeared. Their white water skills saved the day.

Mike Tongg arranged for us to paddle in the mornings from Waikiki Surf Club. The first thing we had to get used to was the different canoe. a Hawaiian Class Racer which felt more tippy.

1994 Mololla'i crew outside the Royal Canoe Clu"'s original clu" house

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As it Is for so many who make it to the Mo'olla" race after dedlcated'rrillnfrigand preparation - cold rralnlng. controlled earlng and drinking. endless phone ced's and

organlsatfon. Juggl'ng tIme wlrhfamlly and friends - of a

As we began paddling dOll'" the Ali Wai Canal towards the Pacitic Ocean and our tirst paddle on the famous Hawaiian walles. my heart stopped - the entrance was framed by classic surf rolling in either side of the channel mnrters, Surfers ripped and slashed in the early morning light. The enormity of it made me feel overcome with anxiety!

Here we were about to launch ourselves into the PaCific Ocean. ulith no experience of large seas. Were we being rectless or simply riSing to the challenge? It was rhe steerers who had rhe biggest challenge of nerve bur we soon serried into It and it wasn't long before shouts of excitement rang out loud. We had arrived and Ive were loving it! Our first training session ended with feelings of exhilaration ar having paddled on a heaving ocean. tempered by caurion alld rhe responsibility that I felr towards rhe ulhole group. Fortunately over rhe next few days the swell dropped.

We organised changeover practices with our escorr boat driver. Ir turned our he had never done the race - and he had a boat full of Molota'i virgins on his hands! We managed to ger rogether to practise and felr better after a felv tria' runs.


Moloka'i is a beautiful island. Add to this the unique energy that descends on it for the race and you are left intoxicated forever. leaving a day early. we boarded the plane with other crews. adding to our excitement which intensitied on arrival. We had to get our canoe rigged. bur by rhe time we arrived at Hale 0 lono. Mite Tongg and Nappy Napolean had virtually completed the rast for us.

The following morning ar 4.30am we assembled in rhe dark - some chany. some reRecrive. As dawn broke over the harbour, we held hands for rhe traditional blessing. For a brief momenr I allowed myself the luxury of reflecting on the journey to rhis point. There had been personal sacrifices. hard work. shared experiences. persona' prob't'ms and sorrows to bear over the rwenty months or preparation. Ceremony over. we found and launched our canoe rhen set off for rhe starr line.

The starr line was huge. Lined up ama to ama just right of centre. then suddenly we


were off. Our tactics were simple - go as hard as we could for as long as we could. I was amazed at how close we were to other canoes. it was impossible to avoid contact. Sue did a wonderful job steering and by the first change we Ivere about half way in the field.

Narrowly avoiding a collision and huli. we paddled out into the Kaiwi Channel past Lauu Point leaving Moloka'i behind us. Changes were scheduled every thirty minutes and Sue our steerer was to change every sixty or ninety minutes with myself or Linda. All three of us were apprehensive of the responsibility of steering. We had after all only ever steered on the Thames or on the chop of the Solent. The hardest part was steering Into the waiting paddlers in the water during changeovers. The crew changeover list had been a nightmare to create as not all could paddle in all seats. a mistate we will not repeat.

Soon we could see Diamond Head which made an easy reference for steering. With increasing breeze. we increased the stroke rate and reached out long to gain speed. Changeovers were altered to twenty minutes, which toot Its toll over the next two hours. Our stroke, Hannah, did a one hour stint. When she climbed into the support boat asking to stay out for a double shift, the answer was a firm "no!"

Seasictness was a problem and four of paddlers ended up this way despite having taten tablets. We had joted about sharts, but this turned out to be no jOte as a message came over the radiO that a pact of Hammerhead shorts were following not for behind, Just as well we didn't get to hear about this until AFTER the race. I had noticed how quictly we were being pulled from the water and how close the boat was when the paddlers jumped In for the change, Had we known we would have paddled iron for the rest of It!

The Oahu coastline loomed closer. The stretch from Koto Head to Oiamond Head was to prove tricky. Up until now the wind had been pushing the canoe right. so most of the steering had been done on the left. Along this stretch we were running down large waves

Above, the men's crew, practising changeovers off Brighton in southern England and below. race day in Hawaii, a glass off - hot and srill.


and being turned left. It was difficult to draw the canoe back on course because It meant poking on the right which lifted the ama.

Towards the end of the race. we a" began to feel that the experience was everything we had dreamed it would be. We were way down on the Winners. but that was not important. We had done the race. survived and become the first British women crew to do it. Applause and cheers welcomed us along with Lei. hugs and Irisses. This was the moment we had worlred for. The rest of the crew joined us from the support boat and we savoured feelings of triumph. satisfaction. respect and love for each other's efforts. We tmew our lives would never be the same.

John Griffith and Suzy Hornby can be contacted at the following address: 2 Victoria Close, West Molesey, Surrey KT81SQ, England UK.

PhoneIFax: 0181 941 2714


creui 1989. practising off WalkiJd - 'Diamond Head behind and tOUler blocks of Waikil1i lining tne beach.


Old Ways and New Beginnings

J list as tlte great voyaging canoes of the historic Polynesian eastwllrd migration seroed to connect eacll individual island culture, so does tlte outrigger canoe of today evoke the accomplislllllCllts of the past. This grand sense of lokalli is tile inspiration for tlte rediscovery of traditiotlal Polytlesiatl culture tllTough tile outrigger calloe. Wltat is tlte appeal of tile outrigger calloe to Polynesiatls alld "o"-Poly"esia"s alike? What feelillgs does tile CRtlOe evoke of adventure alld allure? Wily is it so important 10 the rediscovery of

traditiOlIS of the Pacific? •

The Polynesian outrigger and in particular the Hawaiian configuration has been an object of admiration to mariners from the Western world since first contact. The swiftness, agility, seaworthiness and construction finesse have inspired great appreciation for the creators of these nimble and capable watercraft. The functional form, pleasant tapering of the hull, graceful closeout of the bow and stern and continuous but subtle curvature of aU surfaces has a great appeal to the eye as well as to the senses of technical performance, function and durability.

However, the basic shaping of the major components - the hull, the iako, the ama - is tied right back to the nature through the shape of the raw material as it grows in the upland forests. The outrigger canoe is thus at once a work of art and a great technical achievement; at once a product of human directed intelligence and of nature.

AI Ching describes it this way: 11,e outrigger is a time mad,ine, com,ecting the present to the past ""d the past to the future - a Pacific artifact for all the world, equally at home ill tl,e museum, 011 the water, or in our dreams as we project forward into the future. 11,e outrigger today connects people of all tire Oceanic cultures tl"ougl, participation ill outrigger racing just as its ancestor, the voyaging canoe, once connected populations throug" transport.

Add to the fu"ctional elegance of this craft a well-tuned crew of six - thinking together, pulling together, acting as one - supporting tl,e canoe as tl,ey support ead, other - alld tl,e calloe connects six individuals into a team.

Ted Ralston shares his first recollection of an outrigger canoe through the eyes of a child. "I had seen canoes stored on the beach, had seen them in the canoe shed, but I was startled when I first saw a canoe underway. It came into my very young field of view from a widow overlooking Honolulu Harbor, the darkening sunset painting both koa and paddlers with a coat of bronze.

Immediately, the dynamics of the scene made supreme logical sense, even to a child. The taper of the hull perfectly fitted the paddlers; the'ama perfectly skimmed the water; the manu shape was perfectly majestic, sweeping down to a subtly curved mo'o; and the effortless swing of the paddlers was in perfect harmony. The canoe


glided across the water causing no disturbance, leaving no wake. Every element had a purpose, there was no waste, no awkwardness in design. All lines were smooth, fine and functional. From that point on, the canoe ceased to be simply static or utilitarian. It was elegant and revered."

Later, young Ted helped Lanikai fathers and older kids build their first canoe.

"That Koa log drew attention from near and far and was the centre of social and physical activity for what seemed like forever, with people putting in great time, effort and sweat. The pungent, sweet smell of green Koa filled every weekend. I was amazed at the power of that log to focus so many for so long on something which had no apparent reward. There was a sense of purpose in the air as the beautifully grained and shaped Kellllkai emerged out of the chips and sanding dust."

For Ted, "this magical, mystical hold of the outrigger has never slackened. The experience has been life-giving in a personal way, both in the most important facets of my life and in the satisfaction and rejuvenation still felt when paddling, fixing, writing or planning around the canoe. So it must be for thousands of others, reaching back ten thousand years, across ten thousand islands and forward in time to thousands yet unborn."

Outrigger canoeing is a technical topic, a cultural touchstone, a sport; as it once supported society "ow socieh} supports it. The canoe is a perfect partller to tile ocea" - it leaves 110 wake, does not rip the ocean ill Iralf like powerboats do, makes "0 smoke a"d leaves tlO residue. It simply conforms to the sl,ape of the ocean, rolling as tl,e ocea" rolls, s,ruggled into tile surface as a baby ill antiS, enjoying tile protection of tl,ose anus.

The sense of harmony between canoe, ocean and paddlers must be a small proportion of the grander sense of mutual stewardship with the ocean felt by voyagers of the past. One cannot be in a canoe and have a feeling of conquering the ocean. The feeling is dearly more one of coexistence, working with the ocean's motion and moods, yet with an objective in mind.

"I got a glimpse of this grander harmony once," recalls Ted, describing an experience in the Catalina race some years ago. 'We were far south of the pack, so far south that no other crew or escort boat could be seen. We had the ocean to ourselves. The sea was smooth, its surface rolling - slowly undulating as the swell rose and fell. The change boat, so far out ahead that the canoe had been lost to sight. Isolation and stillness invoked a great sense of calm as the change crew waited, quietly, surrounded by blue-green sea and bright sky.

The approaching canoe first appeared as a dot, becoming larger until the dot began to emerge out of the sea. Soon it resolved into identifiable hull and ama with the sun's glint on wet paddles speaking of motion and life. Then spaces grew to separate the bodies of paddlers. But the canoe still low on the horizon, appeared as


an object of the sea rather than one upon the surface.

About the time that the motions of individual paddlers and steering corrections could be discerned, the scene clarified into a graphic explanation, an awareness, of the timelessness of the outrigger canoe. This canoe was fibreglass , but could have been wood. The ocean was California, but could have been Tahiti. The rigging was dacron, but could have been sennit. The paddlers were Anglo-Polynesian but could have been Pacific-Polynesian, The time could have been past or future.

The deep ocean, with power to do anything to those on its surface, this day was friendly and quiet, slowly rolling and heaving from horizon to horizon in a smooth, steady undulation. The relatively tiny canoe, alive in its own right, rolling as the sea rolled, working with the motion not fighting nor besting it, reverent and respectful of the ocean but holding a steady course. The paddlers, six working as one, speaking as one with the one-word language, hut! Paddlers of the canoe but separate from the canoe. Canoe of the ocean but separate from it. Steerer, of the crew but separate from it, holding the course for an unseen destination beyond the horizon.

Awareness dawned on me that the developing diarama explained much. The progression in scale, the ordered sequence, the structured dependence, the placed trust (all emerging in greater detail as the canoe approached) is the set of relationships that enables the apparently insurmountable barrier of open ocean to be a part of human experience - whether for the voyagers of expanding Polynesia or for the outrigger racer today. The barrier becomes the avenue and the canoe a connective link to the horizon and beyond."

The navigation feats of the Polynesians arc now coming to be appreciated on a broader stage as the pioneering Hokllle'a and her spawned voyaging canoes from other island groups once again ply the Pacific. Similarities between the Polynesian voyaging experience and the pioneering space voyagers of today have been recognised by Dan Goldin head of NASA: "We and the Polynesians are basically doing the same thing," said Dan, "the only difference being we go seven thousand miles per hour and they go seven." At the Century of the Pacific Seminar held in conjunction with the visit of Hokule'a to Long Beach, California, NASA space specialists and the Hokule'a crew discovered more similarities than differences in their endeavours, whether voyaging navigation, craft construction, or their relation to society in general. Astronaut Bill Shepherd pointed out that the needs of society that voyaging filled were probably similar to the needs in our society that are fulfiled by the space program. However, to the voyaging Polynesians the risk was higher and the consequence of errors or loss to the community much greater. Tony Taylor and Chad Babayan discovered to the wonderment of all in attendance that the basic principles of navigating a spacecraft through the solar system or a voyaging canoe through a set of islands arc the same.


by J Limon Palmer of HMS 1868. shows plank ourrlgger tGnc~e. reed 110ar (po raJ a,!d

>.:'!;i~~ml~~~;repaddle. 8rlrlsh Museum

experience in steering and paddling, however, not all that was lost.

The earliest known drawing of an outrigger canoe on Rapa Nui is a pen and ink sketch made by Johann Reinhold Forster on Captain Cook's 1774 voyage. Two Rapa Nui men are shown, each with a composite paddle on the port side, the ama being on the starboard side. The canoe is described as a very wretclted thing, patclled togetlter of several pieces, tlte /read & stem /riglt & ti,e middle low; there lVas all olltrigger fixed to it, & eac" of ti,e mell Irad a paddle made of more titall one piece. Subsequent Europeans described outrigger canoes in similar ways.

Most, about ten to twelve feet long and accommodating up to five people, were made of wood pieces and planks with edges bevelled or rabbetted for close fitting. Each individual piece of wood was sewn to another by plant fibre cordage that passed through holes pieced along the margins of the wood. Spaces between the wood pieces were caulked with moss. Imperfections in the wood were mended with small patches inserted with pegs.

Rapa NUi plank canoe wllh outrigger as seen in 1786 by La Perouse expedition. After Metraux 1940.


Some canoes were narrow, carrying two to four people. A French observer in 1786, described a canoe with the outrigger on the port side, saying that the distal ends of tile two stender boollls are attaclled to gUllwales. An ethnographer, A Metraux thought that direct attachment of booms to floats meant the Rapa Nui outrigger was comparable to canoes in Hawai'i, the outer Tuamotus, Rimatara and others of the Austral Islands, the Cook Islands (except Aitutaki), Tutuila in Samoa and the Marquesas. The forked termination of the booms is unique in Polynesia. The raised ends of the Rapa Nui outrigger canoe compare with those of Tuarnotus, the Marquesas, New Zealand, Hawai'i and Mangareva. Similar outriggers were seen in 1822.

In 1868, the outrigger canoe was drawn by John Linton Palmer, an Englishman aboard I-IMS TOPAZ. Very soon after that, the outrigger canoe disappeared on Rapa NuL Only a few, battered remnants were kept and used as coffins in burial caves. Like the giant stone statues called moai that have softened and eroded with time, the loss of the outrigger canoe left a lot of unanswered questions.

How and why the outrigger canoe disappeared from Easter Island is a long, sad story. We wish to share with you now a happy epilogue to that story. Keeping with Easter Island tradition, where there are no words such as "o"ce "po" a time" to begin, we will just launch into it and let the words flow.

Easter Island, the Dutch and the First Paddler:

A South Pacific tale

The first Europeans to set eyes on the island were Dutch. Led by Admiral Jacob Roggeveen in a fleet of three vessels, they were in search of riches and fame. It was Easter Sunday, 17'22, and the island was named in honour of the day. The three ships lay about two miles off the coast waiting for thunder, sheet lightning and showers to abate before sending a landing party. Out of the mist surrounding a ship, a lone man emerged in a small outrigger canoe made of patched and caulked wood boards sewn together with stout cord. He was anxious to board the ship to meet the newcomers. The Dutch vessel, which was about a hundred feet long with twentyfour cannon and eighty men, fascinated him. He showed great interest in everything, taking special notice of the tautness of the spars, the stoutness of the rigging and running gear, the sails and guns. Finally, his curiosity satisfied, he accepted a glass of wine and some trinkets, including two strings of blue beads, a mirror and a pair of scissors. Swinging down off the ship, he boarded his canoe, waved goodbye and was gone.

Within hours, the ships were able to anchor about a quarter mile from the surging surf and rocky coastline. The water churned with swimmers and a great many outrigger canoes which the people called oek«, and which were about ten feet

long with high, pointed stern and stern pieces called vaero. On shore a huge crowd of shouting, gesturing people eagerly waited for the one hundred and thirty four men, armed with muskets, pistols and cutlass, to put to shore.

As they disembarked, the Dutch moved slowly forward into the crowd in close formation, not knowing what to expect. Within minutes, a young man snatched a sailor's hat, another laid hands on a musket carried by one of Roggeveen's assistant pilots, who, terrified, struck the man. Immediately, others in the crowd picked up stones as if to pelt the foreigners. In the confusion, and with adrenaline pumping, the Dutch fired into the crowd, wounding or killing nearly a dozen people. When the smoke cleared, the paddler who had braved choppy seas to board the ship lay dead.

More than two hundred years later, archaeologists digging on the north coast of Easter Island unearthed a small blue trade bead. While many other such beads probably found their way into the hand of people on Easter Island over many years of contact with Europeans, it is tempting to think that it this is the remnant of that string of beads given to the paddler by the Dutch.

In 1989, the memory of that unnamed paddler was honoured with the founding of Mata Hoe Vaka KalUl KaJUl 0 Hera Rapa Nui (Rapa Nui Outrigger Club), the first organised outrigger canoe club ever on Easter Island.

Rapa Nui: Discovered, Settled and then Marooned

Lying isolated in the East Pacific, in an extreme windward position, Rapa Nui is the last outpost of Polynesia, the easternmost of two hundred and eighty-seven islands contained within the "Polynesian Triangle" (Hawai'i and Aotearoa/New Zealand being the other two points of the triangle).

Easter Island is only 160 square kilometers in area (about 62 square miles). It was formed about three million years ago by submarine volcanoes. Rapa Nui has no wet and is known as a "lIigll isla"d". It is smaller than either Hawai'i or Aotearoa, but larger by far than its nearest neighbouring island of Pitcairn (4.5 square kilometers and also volcanic). Other relatively close islands include Mangareva (four volcanic islands with twenty-two smaller islands and atolls totalling 24 square miles) or Henderson (37 square kilometres and an elevated limestone island). Each of these islands, including Rapa Nui, has a marginal marine and land environment with limited natural resources. Each was either settled or used by prehistoric Polynesians.

The home island of the Rapanui people is not known, but voyaging simulation studies indicate that it may have been Pitcairn. Archaeologist Geoffrey Irwin suggests that a voyage from Pitcairn to Rapa nui would have taken about 21 days and, if it did occur, probably took place during the Southern Hemisphere winter. Anthropologist Ben Finney has suggested three possible routes to Rapa Nui. Henderson and Pitcairn are only about 100 sea miles apart and both were inhabited


and then abandoned prehistorically. Pitcairn and Mangareva are separated by about 375 miles. Rapa Nui is another 1,000 sea miles

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Rapa Nui was settled sometime before AD 800 possibly as early as AD 300-400. An interactive sphere of limited but vital resource exchange and regular communication existed between Hend- \) erson, Pitcairn, Mang-

areva and probably the L.- ~

Tuamotus from about AD 700-800 to the abandonment of long distance voyaging in this part of the Pacific about AD 1500. Archaeologist Marshall Weisler has shown that fine-grained basalt and black-lipped pearl shell (and probably many other things as well) were traded between Henderson and Mangareva.

Rapanui oral traditions tell us that Easter Island was discovered by an exploratory party of six men sailing a canoe called Te Omora-mito (The Living Wood). A settlement party then followed, led by the mythic hero Hotu Matl/'a (Great Parent). He set sail from a place called Mllrae-rellglI or Milraw-foe-Irllll in a great canoe, each hull of which was ninety feet long and six feet deep, or two individual canoes of similar dimensions. With him was his wife, family, friends and extended family. The settlers endured an arduous voyage and finally sighted land with the help of great douds of migratory sea birds (probably following schools of tuna and other pelagic fish).

The voyagers came ashore at Anakena on the north coast, the island's most hospitable landing place. Hotu Matu' a established residence there on the land called I te Kona mo te ariki (The country for the king). Within a short time, the settlers had explored the island. They began clearing stands of upland and lowland palm and other trees to create agricultural land. In their place they planted the trees and plants they had brought with them. They harvested sea urchins and other marine animals of coastal tide pools, hunted sea birds and exotic land birds such as parrots (now extinct). They built homes and sacred structures called ahu. On some of the allll they erected statues called mOlli. The moai marked lineage lands and over time were made


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Ka'ltu Cultu'li - ~apa NUi

bigger and heavier. For at least five hundred years there was enough timber to construct canoes big

';:';f:;~~~ .... enough to bring in dolphin, turtles and

tuna. These same canoes would have been capable of voyaging.

Upon his death, Hotu Matu'a divided the island between his surviving sons. He said to the eldest, "You are Kotuu, of Matanui and your descendants shall multiply ~~~~~~~~r--~like the shells of the sea and the reeds of the crater and the pebbles of the beach." And that is just what they did. Over time, the

population grew and their territory expanded. Kotuu and his line claimed the north and west portions of the island and produced the //Iy,rr".flllII.l!.l paramount chief. The descendants of the youngest son of Hotu Matua, Hotu Hi, also

.. prospered and gradually came to challenge the leadership of their higher-ranked kin. Hotu Hi was given the eastern part, the locale of the great volcano Rano Raraku.

In the quarries of Rano Raraku, generations of master artisans carved nearly a thousand of the haunting and magnificent moai. In the ancient tradition of master craftsmen, they passed on the secrets of their trade for many generations. With precision and accuracy, the stone was measured and cut to repeatedly reproduce the statues with only minor changes in proportion or style. Certainly some of their construction knowledge was from canoe building techniques.

By the time the Dutch arrived in 1722, ·~~u~ __ ~·d;~ the island had been virtually denuded of trees and the only vessels seen were smaller outrigger canoes.


The Rapa Nui Double Canoe and the Isolation Factor

Without the trees necessary to build large canoes, fishermen were less able to go far out in search of big fish and food shortages became a problem. Before this problem arose however, voyaging canoes could have been built to transport people to any place in Eastern Polynesia, Sala y Gomez, or even to mainland South America.

For years it has been written that the trees on Rapa Nui were used in statue transport. Why should that be so? The

biggest of the moai are still in stone quarries and the average size is only a little bigger and a little heavier than the average double hull canoe. Moving a moai required strong direction, traditional knowledge, flexibility to find new ways of accomplishing the task and a kin group of about seventy-five people. Nothing to keep the average Polynesian chief from success. In fact, it is typical of work projects on many islands.

There are many other assumptions about Rapa Nui that need rethinking. For example, it has been assumed that Rapa Nui, once settled, remained in isolation until that day in April when the Dutch ships appeared on the horizon. " Certainly, Rapa Nui is geographically isolated and the r. ~:~'::' navigation challenge presented is great. Ben Finney, ~, " Nainoah Thompson and others have long believed that the original settlers actually found the island by fortuitous accident. That may be the case, but once there, '

they certainly would not have abandoned or lost what they had learned along the way.

If anything can be learned from the moei carvers, it is that


the people of Rapa Nui had a tenacious hold on knowledge, keeping it and passing it on in organised schools or learning. Importantly as well, what we are beginning to learn about inter-island voyaging in the East Pacific tells us that, from about AD 800 until about AD 1500, there is at least a possibility that Rapa Nui may have been contacted by other Polynesian people.

There arc only hints of such contact and no hard evidence, but the hints are enough to be taken seriously. One such hint was recognised by archaeologist Ed Ferdon Jr in 1981. He suggested that a unique thatched shelter on Rapa Nui was related to a very similar structure used as a deck cabin on Tuamotua double-ender canoes. In 1975, a petroglyph of a double canoe that was originally recorded by French archaeologist Henri Lavachery some thirty years earlier was examined in detail by Bob KoH, a volunteer working with American archaeologist William Mulloy. Recently, Herb Kawainu Kane cast his expert eye over Koll's documentation, corrected Mulloy'S misinterpretation of its form and suggested that the petroglyph represented a different type of double canoe, more typical of other parts of East Polynesia.

These arc tantalising clues. Do they mean that canoes from more than one part of East Polynesia were known or Sighted on Rapa Nui? Over the years, several kinds of historic ships are recorded in petroglyphs, so to immortalise a double canoe would not be so strange. So far, evidence is inconclusive, but stay tuned.

Over time in East Polynesia, inter-island voyaging gradually decreased. This area never had the enormous hardwood trees as known in Hawai'i for example, and canoe construction is always limited to available timber. Furthermore, as resources in marginal environments were consumed, islands were abandoned. As Polynesians withdrew from east to west, Rapa Nui became increasingly isolated. Henderson and Pitcairn remained in mutual support until both were abandoned at about the same time. In the words of Geoff Irwin, "One can imagine the lights of settlement flickering out in this stretch of the Pacific and only Easter Island's was left burning alone, perhaps less brightly."

Rapa Nui Outrigger Club: It Started With Hokule'a

Twenty years ago the great replica Hawai'ian voyaging canoe Hokllle'a began the cultural reunification of the Polynesian islands. Outrigger canoe paddling and competition has steadily expanded. In 1989, University of Hawaii anthropologist Ben Finney, intimately involved with the Hokllle'a project since its inception, visited Rapa NuL He talked in the school auditorium about Hokllle'a and about the place of Rapa Nui in Polynesian voyaging history. He emphasised that there were still many unanswered questions and also suggested that the theories of Thor Heyerdahl about the settlement of the Pacific by Peruvians might not be accurate. There were


murmurs or protest and surprise among the audience of children and adults.

In talking later with Io Anne Van Tilburg and Sergio Rapu, the Covernor of Rapa Nui, it became clear that information about voyaging would be welcomed in the school program after Ben suggested bringing Hokuie'a to the island. Young people seemed to need and want something new and fun in their lives, so Ben suggested an outrigger dub as a way to involve youth in cultural rediscovery and to renew some Polynesian cultural links in preparation (or the arrival of Hokule'a or another voyaging program.

There were two main issues to be resolved before founding an outrigger club on Rapa Nui. The first was to promise that the organisation would always be islanddirected. This was crucial to the success of the project. The second was to work with someone who had a successful program already going, with a strong hand and the ability to work well with young people. This was necessary for the outrigger club to reach out to young people and to be welcome in the community.

After [o Anne met with several small groups of interested people, it was agreed that there was one person who fit the bill. Rodrigo Palla is Director of the Masters of Culture program of the island, Corporacioll de Resglllmio Cuituml Mala Nui A Holli A Matll'a 0 Kalm 0 Hera. This organisation which has men and women of all ages as members, creates and takes part in projects of cultural renewal in many fields, including arts and sports. After much discussion with the group, thirty of the one hundred and fifty Corporacion members opted to form an outrigger club called Malll Hoe Vaka (RNOC), with Rodrigo as President and [o Anne as Advisor. A club logo was designed by Cristian Arevalo Pakarati.

[o Anne, despite spending much of her life on islands, has never been much at home on the water. 1/ ••• being Advisor to a canoe club meant that I was about to learn a lot. My work documenting the moai had convinced me that the statues were created by 'masters of culture' - artisans who were so well organised that they were able to pass down the secrets of statue design nearly unchanged for thirty-two generations. In that way they were just like other master artisans on other islands of Polynesia who had carved and constructed the giant double canoes. I believed that a better understanding of catloe culture would lend an insight into the ancient statue culture of Rapa Nui."

More to the point, a canoe dub seemed like a godsend to youngsters without much to engage their attention or energy. Over the next three or four years, each time [o Anne returned for field work, she would meet with [{NOr to share ideas and make plans. The club's direction was always set by the membership and cautiously. During that time, a small outrigger was donated to the island from Tahiti which, although inadequate for the rough seas of Rapa Nui, was a welcome and exciting introduction to outrigger canoe paddling. Eventually it was agreed that outside help

was needed so the idea of reaching out to honorary members as a means of fund raising was put into action and Curt Johnson who had a heartfelt attachment to Rapa Nui after he had worked there with )0 Anne as field crew in 1989, became Treasurer of RNOC.

Slowly and carefully RNOC gained momentum on the island. Each time Jo Anne returned, youngsters would ask "When is the canoe coming?" It was not until 1991 though, that it seemed like that question would be answered "Very soon - one way or another."

In that year, something special happened. Rapa Nui is a dreamlike place of visions. Lots of people claim to see UFO'S, even more say they commune with spirits. Whether any of these things is true or not is anyone's guess, but the star-filled skies and empty horizons do lend themselves well to the imaginative, creative mind. Walking home with friends one misty night of low skies and grey douds, Jo Anne saw a white outrigger canoe shoot out of the fog and over the white surf line at Hanga Piko. "1 stopped dead in my tracks and watched as it slowed and then disappeared into the darkness without landing. Others, who knew the sea well, did not see the canoe, but saw a wake. It seemed an omen, but of what? It did not land - did that mean that we would not be successful in our efforts?"

Four years later in 1995, the marla of Hokule'« initiated a chain of events that finally answered all our questions and culminated in the arrival on Rapa Nui of Talratai, I(NOC'S Hawai'ian Class Racer outrigger canoe. It all started when plans were announced for Hokllle'a to visit southern California. The community of Hawaiians living on the mainland came alive with excitement and everyone wanted to be involved organising a warm welcome. Komike Hokll/e'o was formed to urge support for the West Coast Voyage of Discovery and Ka'ala Pang chaired the Komike. An open letter of invitation was sent out to the community and a core group of dedicated people gathered. The Mainland Council of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, headed by Kaiwi Pang, Kalifornia Outrigger Association and several other organisations joined together.

The theme was Polynesian Voyaging Heritage Week and one goal of Komike Hokllle'o was to foster interest in Polynesian culture in the larger southern California community. Another goal was to encourage voyaging heritage awareness among school children and the Hawaiian community. As the days and weeks stretched into months, a hundred ideas were tried and tested, to be rejected or accepted. The meetings were a joyful sharing of creative and imaginative ideas and the energy generated was enormous. In the best Hawaiian spirit, everyone and every idea was welcomed with open minds and when heated discussion or disagreement took place, issued were resolved in time-honoured and traditional ways. Komike Hokule'a moved forward ho'omee wai ko"i ke kao'o (like water flowing in one direction).


The task of planning and considering was enormous. There are as many as eight different Polynesian groups in the area, all of which have special needs: the First Nation groups into whose territory Hokule'a would be intruding; paddlers, surfers, hllia hatou« - all with different points of view; politicians and city officials; and the media. Then there was the care for the crew of Hokllle'a, their needs and families as well. And finally, to consider Hokule'a, her safety and her upkeep. The challenge in bringing all these clements together was staggering ... not to mention that all of the people involved continued with their jobs in the real world too.

At the end of a long Saturday spent in agonised discussion, with the planning bogged to a halt and the task seeming insurmountable, a sudden realisation brought a connection with the past. 10 Anne recalls: "Here we were, stressed out, trying to plan an event involving a canoe voyage two years aw,lY, and it looked impossible. We just felt that we would not be able to do it. There were too many considerations and issues to be resolved. Even with all the resources we had, it was not going to work, it seemed. Then seeing how similar this situation must have been to that of say one thousand years ago, preparing for a voyage and the encountering of immense barriers. Their problems would have been similar to ours - considering conflicting viewpoints, the cost of building and provisions, uncertainty as to what lay ahead, the continuing demands of daily life. Not much has changed over time."

To provide a forum for the many interests and points of view that surrounded the visit of Hokule'a, the Century of the Pacific seminar was created. Scholars, space scientists, civil servants, Hokutc'« crew, paddlers and many other interested people shared the symposium room and alternated presentations on issues ranging from

health to international policy, canoe navigation, reef archaeology and life on the canoe. The audience was awe-struck by.the warm and sincere appreciation that the various disciplines developed for each other and all benefited from the two days well spent. In the evening, Talk Story sessions allowed another form of expression. Hokllle'a Navigator, Chad Sabayan, summed it up best: "The knowledge available, if we listen to each other, is invaluable, but knowledge must be passed on to be most useful."

Plans were made for a great welcome at sea when Hokule'« entered Long Beach Harbour. Ted Ralston took on the task of organising a fleet of outriggers as a welcoming committee. They would be joined by power and sailboats in escort, fire boats would belch streams of water and the Queen Mary, berthed nearby, would sound her horn. All of the other Polynesian communities would be invited to join the celebration and an outrigger regatta was planned. In a burst of enthusiasm, everyone agreed that members of RNOC should be invited. Ted agreed to join Io Anne as Advisor to RNOC and a strong swell of support began to build. RNOC was moving to become reality. Just as a swell builds to a wave and accelerates the canoe, a long ride for I{NtX' was beginning!

Against the odds, funds were raised for Rodrigo Paoa, Niko Haoa (Director of Mala Hoe Vaka-RNoc), Cristian Arevalo Pakarati and five other members of RNOC to go to Long Beach. Kahakai Outrigger Canoe Club paddler Frank Spina (who speaks Spanish) volunteered to spend several weeks perfecting the paddling technique of the RNOC members. With equipment donated by Kahakai, two hour training sessions took place three times a week.

Ted had the opportunity to spend time with the RNOC paddlers rigging the canoes, a skill that RNOC would need when they had a canoe of their own. In the procL'Ss, it became dear that the terms for canoe parts in Rapa Nui are very similar to the Hawaiian. No great surprise from an academic point of view, perhaps, but a wonderful experience to have first hand - a validation of the links and connection

Two uHawaiian Class Racers" lashed together. paddle out

of Long Beach to meet with the Ho!rule'a


engendered by the outrigger canoe. But, when calJing changes, R:>JOC favoured their own £kahi! Elua! to HutlHo!

Merina Paoa, Tito Paoa and Renee Edmunds, Rapa Nui people living in southern California, extended hospitality to RNOC. Frank Spina and the Rapa Nui paddlers bonded during this time and when he journeyed to Rapa Nui later that year in December, he had a memorable few weeks with them, seeing the sights and making new friends.

When Hokule'a sailed into Long Beach Harbour on 12 July 1995, RNOC crew headed by Niko Haoa were in one of the sixteen welcoming outrigger canoes. After Chad Babayan, Mike Tongg and Gordon Pi'ianaia and crew navigated the throng of outrigger canoes and surfers on long boards, Hokule'« docked in the Polynesian village set up in her honour. RNOC members in full ceremonial body paint joined eight other Pacific nations and host Gabrieleno-Tongva and Chumash (First Nation) tribes, in traditional welcoming ceremonies.

The call of the conch shell echoed, the pu and I'allll sounded and the Ke leo "eallea rang out, inviting the canoe to land. Absolute silence held nearly four thousand spectators enraptured as David Kapahulehua, first captain of Hokuie'a and her crew came ashore. Uncle David Nu'uhiwa offered a Christian prayer and Kualana Chang spoke of the historical and cultural importance of the West Coast voyage. Keli'e Chang spoke the Mele koihcnua, a genealogical chant naming lineages and places found both in Hawai'i and throughout Polynesia. Ho'oklll'lI were presented. The width and breadth of the Polynesian triangle were represented that day, in brilliant

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traditional garb and under a bright sky - distant and linked groups were all drawn together as one by the //I1l1I1l of Hokll/e'll.

A few days later, on ]5 July ]995, R\lOC was accepted into the International Polynesian Canoe Federation (II'CF) by President Michael Tongg at a special reception hosted jointly by R:-\OC, Kahakai occ and KOA. California paddlers joined the celebration to meet their new international friends, warm words of welcome were spoken and gifts exchanged. Joining the crowd was :'>lASA astronaut and Hokll/t"1l crew member Bill Shepherd and officials from the Long Beach-Valparaiso Sister Cities

program. A connection that would prove ' "I

vital to RNOC. California paddling kallll, .. ·,~

Sandy Kahanamoku, expressed sincere and heartfelt aloha when he discovered that he and Rodrigo and others shared the same family name of Paoa,

Earlier in the day, RNOC paddlers raced against another canoe paddled by members of Hokule'a crew. The Hokule'« team had a half-canoe length advantage ilt the start and held it but RNOC stood proud in their first race ever. Each RN(X: paddler was awarded a special medal in commemoration of the race.

At the end of the week, Niko Haoa, Rodrigo Paoa, along with [o Anne and other RNoe paddlers and a mass of others in the Hokuic'« family, including Long Beach elected officials, boarded Hokule'e to sail partway on her departing voyage. Jo Anne recalls: "In our excitement we could imagine Hokule'a pulling into Hanga ROil Otai (Rapa Nui) on her most challenging voyage ever."

There wasn't a dry eye as the week-long event came to an end. One lonely, symbolic outrigger canoe and one surfer on a longboard escorted Hokule'a as she pulled away. After putting off those who were not going to make the journey to San Diego, she hoisted sail and suddenly, was gone. In her wake she left an ohan« of committed people, all promising to work with RNOC to get an outrigger canoe to Rapa Nui. She also left a dream: Hokule'a on Rapa Nui.

Working together: Rapa Nui Outrigger Club and Tahatai The support for RNOC created through the mlllla of Hokll/e'll never dissipated. The week following the Long Beach celebrations was spent by RNOC members in Hawai'i, They were met by Ben Finney and Gerry De Benedetti at Honolulu and introduced


to local paddlers and enthusiasts. They attended racing events and the club captain of the Outrigger Canoe Club donated two steering and racing paddles. Rodrigo and the other members of ({NOC returned to Rapa Nui with renewed desire to acquire a canoe and the youngsters were impressed with all their stories.

A few months later, an historic meeting of the Outrigger Canoe Club was attended by [o Anne who introduced the idea and goals of ({NOC to a "Wllo's Who" of Hawaiian outrigger canoeing. In the meantime, Ted Ralston was talking story about RNOC to anyone who would listen and funds were slowly beginning to accumulate.

Richard Kelton, who has a long-standing interest in Polynesia and is a sailor himself, arranged a generous donation from the Kelton Foundation which enabled RNOC to begin in earnest, the hunt for a suitable canoe. Anticipation building on the island was answered when Ted located a used, but never named, Hawaiian Class Racer for sale in Marina del Rey, California. The canoe was simply "#74 ", but she had a history of her own.

"Number seve"ty-jollr" was just what we were looking for. A stout Classic, in good shape, clean, well maintained and (critical in the rough waters of Rapa Nui) with spray covers. The canoe had raced well in California and would be heading for the South Pacific - ifwe could raise the money, ifno other buyer showed up, ifwe could arrange transport ...

With funds way short and holding our breaths, the deal was sealed with about a month to make up the shortage. Into the breech stepped three people with energy and vision. Aldo Olmedo and Jan Schwartz, joined later by Allan Tebbetts, introduced to RNOC during the visit of Hokllle'a. Aldo, born and raised in Chile, was astonished at the interest and enthusiasm which RNOC had inspired. He and Jan suggested that ({NOe join the Trade Mission to Chile being organised at that time by the Long Beach Sister Cities Program. As the cultural component of the Trade Mission, ({NOC would be a part of a major outreach and educational effort. Through


their efforts and with major corporate financial contributions coming from UFX Logistics, ETS Transport, Douglas Aircraft Co., Grey Owl Paddles of Canada and many others - together with all the koku« and aloha from individual members from around the world - RNOC was able to close the books at the necessary purchase price and become the proud owners of an outrigger canoe.

Aldo also called upon personal friendship to arrange for the canoe's transportation to Rapa Nui. Without the kind support and interest from so many people, this story would have ended now.

On a cold and rainy southern California Saturday in February 1996, nearly three hundred people gathered on the beach near Valparaiso Park in Long Beach to name and bless the canoe. Paddled by RNCX- members, Curt Johnson, Johannes Van Tilburg, Aldo Olmedo, Margie Ralston, Connie Edmondson and steered by Ted Ralston, the unnamed, flower-filled outrigger canoe approached the shore and the waiting crowd. She was escorted by Kahakai oce canoes and the tall ships, Calijomit", and Hmvaiiall C/lie/tall.

The hushed crowd waited in anticipation and the only sound was the steady rain on jackets and umbrellas, then the crunch of sand as the canoe was dragged ashore and the strong voice of Kumu Clarice Wahineali'i Nui as she chanted a traditional olio Ka'ala Pang welcomed everyone and Kaiwi Pang spoke on behalf of Hawaiian Civic Clubs. The canoe was given the name Talwtai, the Rapanui variant of Kahakai, in honour of the tie forged between the two canoe clubs. Jo Anne sprinkled red sand from the Rapa Nui beach of Ova he onto the wet, grey sands of Long Beach and Hawaiian sea water was passed from hand to hand in the calabash to be sprinkled on the canoe. Some said the continuous, cold California rain was, in fact, a blessing.

In the Rapanui rongorollgo tradition, voices raised in chant become part of the wind and sounds echo down the years of history. Words enfold and enwrap people and objects, holding them safe and preserving them. In keeping with these traditions, Treasurer Curt Johnson read the name of every single person, every organisation and every corporation that contributed to making the RNOC




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dream a reality. In that way, all these names became a part of the new history of TaJ/atai, increasing and sharing her I1Illlla, to be carried with her on the journey to distant Rapa Nui.

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Tahatai. Uncle David Nu'uhiwa gave the blessing and Thomas Kalama spoke on behalf of Uncle Noah Kalama, Founder of KOt\. Ho'okupu of lei, ti leaves, books and educational materials were placed inside Talmlai. Cords for rigging were donated from Hokule'a and jackets and hats for the paddlers given by Patagonia Company. The entire assembly joined hands to share the blessing and then partook of traditional Hawaiian foods. Uncle David, troubled by something he sensed in Tallalai, returned twice to bless her in the week following. When he was finally satisfied that Tahalai was released of any ill sense by transferring it to his own body, she was ready to enter her new sea.

Volunteers then created the world's longest box to encase Tallatai for her departure from Long Beach in the hold of CSAV Sud Americana de Vapores (Chilean Lines) Bueneneutura. Tito Paoa assumed a major role at this point and would be a key player in the events that followed. Aldo Olmedo demonstrated yet another skill as he orchestrated the assembly of the shipping crate in the UFX Logistics warehouse. Tallatni would be well protected for her six thousand mile journey.

Two months later, Taluuai was officially handed off from Chilean Lines to the Admiral in Chief, First Naval Zone, Armada de Chile. According to Mr Victor Pino T, President of CSA V and Admiral Busch, a wonderful ceremony and reception were held in Valparaiso in honour of Tahatai. One side of the crate was removed as an honour guard stood by. Pictures were taken, hands shaken and the crate resealed. Tlllmiai was featured in the Valpairaso newspaper. With the involvement of Chilean Lines and the Chilean Navy, we hope to generate interest in outrigger in mainland Chile.

Finally, on April 20, 199600 Anne's birthday) TaJlatai was lashed on deck aboard a small Armada de Chile boat of her very own and departed for Rapa Nui.




Coming home: Tahatai arrives on Rapa Nui

Seven days after departure, the Armade de Chile vessel arrived in Hanga Piko.

The surf was rough and heavy, so they moved off to Hanga Roa Otai. RNOC members, led by Niko Haoa, boarded the navy ship and before the paper work was even finished, rigged and off-loaded rallatai, paddling her in to shore in triumph. When she touched the sand, Ta/Illtai ushered in renewal of a special and honoured aspect of Polynesian culture for Rapa Nui.

Tito Paoa, who went back to Rapa Nui especially for the ceremonies, talked to his family about the choice of landing place and about jo Anne's long-ago sighting of a phantom canoe at Hanga Piko. They told him it meant that Ta/Illtai was never meant to land at Hanga Piko and was always destined to arrive at Hanga Roa Otai. But why? Why was Ta/Illtai destined to come ashore in that special place? Could it be because Hanga Roa Otai is the place where the first Rapanui paddler, felled so long ago in a hail of Dutch powder and shot, lay down his life? We all would like to think that, in some way, Taltala; is setting history back on track. As so often on Rapa Nui, history and fantasy, legend and reality meet in dynamic ways.

Tallata; is housed snugly in her very own hare vakil hard by Hanga Roa Otai. On 18 May 1996, excited members of RNOC, the fishing community, island leaders, Allan and Bonnie Tebbetts representing the Long Beach Sister Cities and officers of the Chilean Navy gathered while Governor Jacobo Hey and Mayor Petero Edmunds spoke words of official welcome. Father Navarrete, the island priest, gave the blessing.

Tito spoke for all the members of RNOC telling everyone of the hard work and dedication that had been put into this project


a youngsters into new and He go! up.0\ttl!.e stage, sat in a

, .' ~a~~'t~'fi~~'!~~,~pes and big · ,. ,p~)yne~yi\gtng.ttna lhe-young people

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· --' Tahitiaii,~~'RNc:X::'me~bers,'!!l~ long-time -island .

Weber, 'paddled the Tahitian canoe for the first time ever and

much to the amusement of friends and neighbours, c» ' \'.': "

',~. There a~ now fo'tir· teams from jhe local school involvedIn training ,.with ,'"

.,!~,:.;~drigo in ~ padding program. There fue foui teams, two of each boys ~nd girls,

0( . aged fourteen to eighteen and six teams 01 adults of several ages, Instructors are ,

'~ Rodrigo- Paoa;,C M.at1~aga, 'lJtiTepano and Kio Teao andtraining ison.:ruesdays:~'·~;,

~ and Thursdays, somi'tfri{e§~J01.~ddlers ~how up, som~fin'es,only'a fe~,All are, ',' '~

· Z interested.but raila/a; has no competition on the island to make a rac~.,,: . :'!

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With Rodrigo and some of the other paddlers, I helped paddle Tahatai out toward the setting sun. It is an unbelievable experience to sit so low in the water, looking out at some of the highest surf I have ever seen, then turning to ride in toward green hills and long, black shadows of the magnificent, standing moai. As the blades of paddles broke the water in perfect unison, each paddler responding at once to the steerer, I could imagine what it must have been like in the ancient days, when statues were cut from the living rock with the same unified, precise strokes and at the urging of artisans. Polynesian voyaging, outrigger canoe paddling and the giant 1II0a; all teach us that, working together, as one, in harmony, "110 job is too big wilen done by all."

At the beginning of this talc, you learned about the early explorers and accounts of the Rapa Nui outrigger canoe. There is some confusion about on which side the allll! was rigged. Forster, a reliable observer, saw a canoe with the ama on the starboard side, while others said it was on the port. Herb Kawainui Kane, an acknowledged authority on Polynesian culture, says that starboard placement is virtually unknown in east Polynesia, but suggests that alternate placement of the 1111111 is a clever solution in challenging seas. When Tito Paoa was on the island, he helped rig Til/Itltai with the 11"'11 on the starboard side after first checking the ocean conditions and deciding that it was smarter and safer that way. It seems that this was a part of the old Rapanui ways too, a sure sign that important knowledge ad common sense are often one and the same in Polynesian traditions. On Rapa Nui, history sometimes seems obscured or lost. Most of the time, it is merely silent.

M icronesia, IIl1l1dreds of tilly islands located ill tile we51em Pacific, is blessed witll optimal calloe conditions - clean tropical waters, sandy beaches, fat'ollrable trade willds alld people who hmx used the oceall as a commercial higllway for thousands of years. It is 110 wonder then, tlta! modem calloe culture tllrollgllollt ti,e region lias seell all explosive "l'slrge ill poplllarity ill Guam alld Saipall. Other islamls, sud: as tile Palau, Polmpei, alld the low lyillg outer islallds of Chuuk' - Puillwat, Pull/Silk, and PlIlap - have also wit1lessed modest growth.

Leading the pack in outrigger canoeing and kayaking is the Guam Kayak and Outrigger Canoe Federation - known locally as I'ROA and named after the sleek Mariana Islands canoe - whieh was formed in 1993. Recognized by the International Olympic Committee family of sports, I'ROA serves to educate the public about the region's rich and colorful canoe traditions, as well as develop a better understanding of the inherent canoe building techniques unique to this region. And, because PROA is a member in good standing with the International Polynesian Canoe Federation (II'CF) canoe culture networking throughout the insular Pacific, is thriving.


l<a',1u e ultu'U - !hiC?OIU!Sia

As a result of rsox's initiative three years ago, a second canoe dub, though not aligned with IrCF nor the IOC, was formed on Guam - the Marianas Paddlesport & Racing Association. I'ROA is also reaching out to the other Micronesian islands to help develop and inculcate standards needed for internationally sanctioned events. Conservative estimates of canoe participants throughout the region tops two thousand; more people and dubs are expected on the horizon.

Historical Traditions

The Micronesian islands have a justifiable reputation as leaders in sea-faring technology that has spanned several thousand intermittent years. Westerners first caught a glimpse of the sleekness of Mariana Islands' boat-building skills when the intrepid Portuguese captain-general Ferdinand Magellan first 'discovered' Guam in 1521. Magellan'S chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta, describes in his journal that first meeting of two worlds: Chamorro llOals resemble fllee/t're, but are narrower, alld sOllie are black, some wlrite, o/lrers red. AI ti,e :;ide opposite tire :;ail, Illey l,aI'e a large I,ieee of wood poillted at the top, witlr poles laid acro:;:; it alld resting 1111 ti,e water, ill order Ilrat tire boats may sail more safely. The sai! is made from palm teazles Sewll togetlrer and slraped like a lmeen sail. For rudders, they lise a certain blade resemblillg a hearilt slro1'el whiclr uas a piece of wood at lire end. TileY c/lallge stem IIIld bo» at will ami tlrose llOats resemble tire dolplri"s w"ic" leap ill the water from wllve to wtll'e.

First ever Guam u.emen's outrigger team or rhe South Pacific Gomes Tahlri 1995

Chamorro sailors reportedly manoeuvred easily around the bulky Spanish galleon ships, but due to cultural differences and the Spanish desire to explore and lay claim to lands (or the church and crown, bloodshed was spilled. A mere century later, Spain had virtually subjugated all Chamorro and laid waste to many of the cultural traditions, including navigation and canoe building.

Lost to history was the "flying proa," as it was known four hundred years


Ktl '"" e ,,(tU.U - ,/Itic'lolleSitl

Guam paddlers at Noumea. Nell' Caledonia IPCF World Sprint Titles 1996. len to right: Doug Cousineau. Kelly Dawes. Gene Odom. Spring Cousineau. Jenn!l Chargllalaf. Jorgi Strandhagen. Bianca Cushing. Mari/ou Parinasan. Chris Taniguchi. Bianca was a finalist at these sprints (linder 16). Kelly Dailies reached the semi linals and Chris Taniguchi lunder 16) reached the quarter tinals.

Right: Matapang Beach Race January 1996. Junior ream


K« 'l1U e ultuse - !1tlc'lo,u?Sia.

ago, and five other canoe types used by Charnorro to fulfill a variety of ocean-going tasks.

Following the collapse of Spain as a worldwide empire at the end of the nineteenth century, a succession of colonial powers (Germany, Japan and America) coupled with the devastation of World War II, relegated Mariana Islands ocean technology to historic documents.

A cultural renaissance has gained momentum in the last decade, due in small part to world decolonization, but more importantly, through the resurrection of pride in cultural traditions. Countless hours of research about the once formidable sea-faring technology of the Chamorro have helped lay a foundation for better understanding of proa building techniques and navigation skills. Much of this research has led to a modified version of the proa that is suited for the region.

[,ROA first put its version of the proa to the test in the 1994 Micronesian Games, a regional festival of sports that witnessed canoe technology and skills at its finest. Guam earned a gold medal and the respect of competing islanders. The stage was set after the Guam victory for other such internationally recognized events as the II'CF World Sprints, Queen Lili'uokalani Long Distance Canoe Races and the South Pacific Garnes. Because the enthusiasm for canoe and kayak racing is still growing, I'ROA administrators are looking forward to the 2000 Sydney Olympics.


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Guam Ourrigger Team on a day orr In Tahiri during rhe 1995 Sourh Pacific Games. Moorea

Shone 81acl: (second from righr) was Guam's youngesr paddler ur rhe Sourh Pacific Games. paddling wirh a local TahUlan creui Papeere Harbour.

PROA sanctioned events for 1996-97

A number of PRoA-sponsored races will be held in Guam's waters over the next year to prepare paddlers for international events. Some of the series people can look forward to include: Chief Mata'pang Challenge Race Series, Kareran East Coast Open Ocean Race, Dos Amantes Race, Labor Day Race.

In addition to a wide array of outrigger canoe races, I'ROA will hold clinics to train and educate youth, as well as venture into more remote islands of Micronesia to help foster kayak and canoe culture for the twenty-first century.

Doug Cousineau (foreground) - Chief Gadao Race Series to selecl a team for the IPCF World Sprints in Noumec. Neul Caledonia,

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To filld out more about MicrOllesia's calloe culture, COli tact PROA

Guam Kayak and Outrigger Canoe Federation P.O. Box 21809 GMF, Guam 96921

Telephone Office: (671) 475-4662,

Home: (671) 789-1567

Facsimile GNOC: (671) 472-4273, PROA: (671) 734-6824

Internet: melscot@kuentos.guam.net

South Pacific Games Tahiti 1995, Open Men's first team,



Kia Ora from Rarotonga. A Day in Paradise


My six week sojollr1l ill the UK and Hawaii had come to atl end. AltllOligh my original intention was to spelld two days ill Rarotonga (the Cook Islallds) I had call celled because if was time to get back lunne. It seems that ti,e gods lIad another pia" ill store ...

The Cook Islands group was first inhabited between 500 and 1000AD, chiefly from the Society Islands but also apparently with dose New Zealand associations. Although Captain James Cook never did step ashore on these islands, he did make three visits and it remains the only Pacific area named after him, even though he was not the first European to happen upon these islands.

The principal island, Rarotonga often simply called "Raro", is located midway between Australia and Rapa Nui (Easter Islands). Fifteen islands make up the Cook group over a distance of some 1000 miles (1600km). Closest neighbours are the Society Islands 400 miles (640km) to the north-cast, Niue 580 miles (930km) to the west, and the Austral or Tubuai Islands some 300 miles (480km) to the south-east. These distances are ironically less than some distances between the island of the Cook group themselves, yet total land mass of the islands barely covers 93 square miles (242km).

The Cook Islands is divided into a northern and southern group. The northern group is principally no more than coral atolls, rising less than ten feet above sea level with poor soil and low rainfall. Whilst the islands of the southern group which include Rarotonga, Mangaia, Atiu, Aitutaki, Mauke, Mitiaro, Takutea and Manuae are larger volcanic islands with rugged interiors and whose higher rainfalls have encouraged growth of tropical vegetation. Rarotonga is 21 miles in periphery (34km) with its highest peak at 2140 feet (652m).

The first European to sight the islands was a Spaniard named Alvara de Mendana and between 1773 and 1823 Europeans were regular visitors. With much the same timing of the Boston Missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands in 1820, the London Missionary Society came to Rarotonga to establish missions on Aitutaki in 1821 and Rarotonga in 1827. As in other places around the globe, this led to the decline of traditional customs, ritual and practices of the local inhabitants.


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Cook Islanders were naturally skilled fisherman, seafarers and canoe builders and shared many of the beliefs, customs, as well as language of their Polynesian neighbours from the Society Islands.

Early European reports noted that both double canoes and outrigger canoes were in usc. Double canoes were similar to those of Hawaii and the Society Islands, being used for similar purposes, namely warfare, deep-sea voyaging between islands and as cargo vessels. Smaller outrigger canoes were used for fishing and

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In 1888 the islands became a British protectorate and in 1901 were annexed to the British Empire as part of the Dominion of New Zealand. In 1965 the islands became self governing whilst continuing to maintain strong links with New Zealand .


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Takutea _ _ t.Aitioro

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short coastal trips and usually accommodated only one or two paddlers.

In terms of Cook Island canoe designs, it has been concluded that similarities exist between canoes of the Marquesas Islands and New Zealand, with modifications most probably made by immigrants from Samoa and Tonga. For example, the form of the dugout underbody in canoes found in the island of Mangaia and in Rarotonga were and remain identical to those found in Tahiti. A raised ornamental stern post sometimes added to canoes, as high as five feet, resembled those as seen on Maori canoes, often being disproportionate in relation to canoe length.

Canoes with single outriggers, had two iako (locally called kin to as in Maori).

These were always rigged out on the left, resting across the gunwale and attached by sennet lashings passed through paired holes either side and below. Attachment to the ama was direct by curved elbow or forked branch which slotted into a bored hole on the ama. In Aitutaki the attachment of iako to ama was indirect, using instead a Y-shaped stanchion fixed into a hole on the ama with the iako braced between the forks and lashed with sennet.

Some original canoes with single outrigger were up to forty feet in length, approximately one foot four inches wide at either end and up to two foot wide in the middle, similar to contemporary racing outrigger canoes. Seating up to a dozen crew and generally no less than five, the canoe was often made from a single log that was beautifully ornamented. Often the rear iako was positioned close to the stern, the forward one relatively farther aft, so that they were wide apart. The ama was and remains generally straight and cylindrical.

Like most regions of the Pacific, neighbouring islands often had a variance in methods of attaching iako to ama as wen as of raw materials and canoe design generally. This was due not only to variable vegetation but also sea conditions, even for islands in close proximity. Some canoes were only used in lagoons where the water was shallow and always caIrn. These variances are evident throughout the Cook Islands where environmental differences occur, even if the fundamental design principles remain similar.

Today, designs are rather impolitely referred to as degenerate variations of the original, being smaller, less ornate and with a general lack of attention to detail. This can be said of many canoes around the Pacific which have been made purely for utilitarian purposes.

In short, the Cook Islands has a rich history of association with the outrigger canoe, which makes their participation in and willingness to be a part of contemporary outrigger canoe racing all the more relevant and important.


Woad carving, tile skill and art wllicll developed ill the manufacture of cenoes, was tratiitiolla/ly file domain of expert craftsmen, or Ta'ilnga as they are kllown ill tI,e Cook Is/allds. Micllne/ Tnoioni is slicil a mall, witll wllom I met for the first time 011 my visit tohen the piane's landing gear packed ill, /eavillg me strallded for a day all Rarotollga.

As luck would have it, I was in the company of Kris Kjeldsen of Moana Nui, New Zealand, both of us returning home from the Queen LiIi'uokalani Race at Kana in Hawaii. Armed with a Rarotonga phone book we found two Tavioni names (the odds were looking good) and quickly hooked up with the right number to be told how to find Mike - just along the beach from the Edgewater Hotel where we were roughing it in style.

After a sumptuous breakfast courtesy of Air New Zealand, we jumped on an island bus and headed a short way along the road to one of two of Mike's wood carving huts, located amongst the trees not far from the airport. The other workshop is in the main town of A varua.

Somewhat surprisingly, rather than island music drifting from under the thatched roof creating a tropical ambiance, "techno" blared for the handful of young wood carvers working on tiki figures and bone amulets. "Perhaps it speeds the work," I thought.

Down the side of the hut lay a double canoe with enormous stern posts. A little beyond, an array of canoe shaped dugouts of differing sizes. Mike was out on lunch so Kris wandered off, soon to return on the back of Mike's moped. (No mean feat I can tell you.)

Shaking Michael Tavioni's hand, I was relieved to meet a man who wouldn't go for techno music. Despite having his lunch interrupted, he was clearly happy to meet

with us. Visitors with an interest in canoes Cast aside dugouts - even master wood

are always welcome here. carvers have their rejects. These waiting to

We naturally fell into conversation be transformed into ama or flids' canoes.


Michofl Tovlonl - To'unga - commirted ro development of our rigger canoe paddling in rht' Coo~ Islands, by using wood carving s~lIl$ in rhe ma~ing of paddles and canoes,


about canoes and canoeing and when he realised we were on the island for only a few hours, he talked fast and showed us as much as he could.

It was explained that the dugouts down the side of the hut were all part of an experimental process. Some were way too small and probably would end up being modified into ama for larger canoes or solo canoes.

Mike first became interested in canoe paddling in 1985 when two six person

In one of Rarotonga's tranquil lagoons five solo canoes sunbathe on their canoe platform. Above. the canoe closest is made from Breadfruit tree. Attachment of iallo to canoe is via raised spreaders (in common urith Tahiti) and attached with rubbers. The curved timber

lako arch over and attach to a peg that is driven into the ama. Note the small ama. which requires fine balance as it submerges easily. Below. from left one Breadfruit canoe. the others are libreglass - the first to be made in the Cook Islands. In the background. an Au (HolI) tree that provides for so many ralll materials for paddle and canoe construction. particularly ;ako and paddles.


A double hull sailing canoe of traditional design. The large stern pOSIS are ornomenrcl and have origins in design which relate back to cultural cssocicnons lvilh Aoreoroo. (Nelli Zealand)

In the background. Mike 1al'ion;'s llIork plcce, Selolll. Ihe canoe looking rewards the bow.


Ornamental stern posts added to this double hulled sailing canoe have lints llIith Maori canoes as conract betllleen the Cootl Islands and Aotearoa llIas common. leading to a similarity of canoe concepts. This canoe seen outside (he carving shed.

Mitle's paddles have become something of a passion since he bcgan matling thcm back in 1987. This paddle made from Au or Hau as it's 'molt'" in Haltraii (Sea Mangrove) and African Tulip tree.

r • canoes were brought by paddlers from Tahiti. These canoes are now rather run down and in constant need of repair. During the following year, the Cook Islands Canoeing Association was formed with Mike being president until 1995. The current president is Paul Turepu.

In the late eighties Mike began making paddles because no one else was and they had been coming from Tahiti. Being a wood carver by trade amongst other things (sketch artist and agricultural officer), paddle making came reasonably easy being simply a matter of experimentation.

Mike has established himself as one of the driving forces behind outrigger canoe paddling in the islands, establishing the first of the four canoe clubs on Rarotonga, liimanuka. The name he believes, brings the club good fortune, associated with a legend which tells of a woman who whilst paddling from one island to another,


This paddle Mike made for his daughter for the South Pacific Games in Tahiti. in which the Cook Islands participated.

James. who has worked as a wood carving apprenlice since he was thirteen. is a devoted canoe paddler and has made It his special project to work on the production of fibreglass 50'0 canoes and solo canoes in general.

capsizes in rough seas. Her canoe sinks but she is taken to land by the Itimarlllka, a mythical sea creature.

Whilst both the making and repairing of traditional canoes has always been of interest, recently Mike has turned his hand to building canoes which can be used for contemporary racing. Together with long time apprentice James, he has been working on a project to construct fibreglass solo outrigger canoes so local paddlers can begin learning and practising the skills required for competitive outrigger canoe racing.

The best way to show us what they had come up with was to take us down along the beach to where the canoes were stored on a canoe platform fronting a glassy turquoise lagoon. Beyond, a fringing reef pounded by huge ocean waves and


in the distance the cobalt blue of the Pacific Ocean.

Mike explained that they had considerable problems in getting things going to produce competitive canoes on any scale because of a lack of finance and the skills of fibreglass construction. The latest efforts have involved shaping a solo outrigger from dugout timber, using that as a basic mould from which to make four fibreglass canoes. Although not perfect, the canoes are remarkably quick. It was agreed after a :!~_

paddle around the lagoon however, that ....

the ama needed to be larger with a greater degree of flotation as it tended to "submarine" on you. Nonetheless, it has been a bonus to have these canoes finished.

Much credit goes to James for all the work he has put in, being his special project. James is not only an accomplished canoe paddler who has a great love of the sport, but through his talents he will be regarded as an important part of the growth of outrigger canoe paddling in the Cook Islands, I am sure.

We also got to paddle a dugout Mike and James have used what is known Breadfruit tree canoe, which was really a as the indirect method of attachment of treat. The feel of paddling an all organic lako to ama. A peg is driven into the ama canoe is something special and its as a fixed item and the iato is attached to crudeness only adds to the enjoyment and challenge of paddling such a craft. It was interesting to note the indirect method of attaching ama to iako having a separate peg driven into the ama, with the iako then being attached to it using rubber attachment. whereby the iato curved Oller inner tube. This indirect method was and was driven dirertlll into the amc. traditionally used only on the island of Using this indirect method. the 101:0 can be Aitutaki where most of the paddling done

was in shallow lagoon areas. canoe relative to conditions. however it is

Mike's innovative nature has also lead interesting to note that the canoes used In him to delve back to traditional Cook Alrutakl are used in flat lagoon conditions.

the peg. in this case by rubber.

Traditionally in the Cook Islands. the

Island of AUutaki was the only island where this method was used. Other

islands used the direct method of

affixed at varying heights to trim the


Top. My daughter Alana (6, paddling the Breadfruit canoe. In March 1996 Rarotonga held irs first junior regaua with the youngest paddlers being five.

Belol1l. a fibreglass canoe which travelled remarkably quickly over the glassy lagoon. As a first affempt Mil:e and James have done a great job and the fibreglass canoes will certainly make a positive conrribution to the growth of the sport in the Cool: Islands.

Island paddle designs. A favourite is the Mallgaia design so named after the island of Mangaia which has been influential in canoe and paddle design throughout the southern Cook Islands. Though similar to the Teardrop design of Tahiti, the Ma1lgaia paddle has a more pronounced shape, like a diamond with pointed tip, the widest part of the blade being two thirds up the length. The blade is concave or scooped with a belief that the paddle tip entry is smoother having the effect of less air being taken down with the blade as with square tips. A cleaner entry and anchor with maximum width being higher up the blade, pulling is made easier.

It takes around eight hours to produce a finished paddle, using largely All (Hall -


Sea Mangrove} favouring it, as in Tahiti, for its lightness and strength. The green tinge and complex markings he sees as a bonus, producing an aesthetically pleasing paddle. Also used for paddle making is African Tulip tree and Flame Tree. Flame tree timber is used sometimes for the handle and shaft whilst All (Hall) is used for blade lamination. These local timbers take approximately three years to cure before use. If used before curing adequately they will split as the sap continues to dry out.

There are also two six person canoes, donated as far back as 1985. which are used by four different canoe dubs on the island. This has fostered strong ties with Tahiti. Getting enough interest in canoe paddling is not the problem, lack of canoes is and it is in this respect that there needs to be an improvement.

Ironically, government support seems to find its way into traditional Western sports such as rugby and rugby league. This seems insensitive to the cultural needs of Cook Island people who should be given every opportunity to rekindle a significant cultural pastime, not only to bring residents of the Cook Islands together but also to allow sharing with others of the Pacific and Pacific Rim.

Despite the problems, what they have lacked in gear has been made up for in heart and enthusiasm. In 1988 a team made its first appearance at the 1I'C1' World Sprint Championships in Hawaii. with Mike as coach and paddler, going on to make the semi finals. In 1994 Cook Island paddlers competed in Samoa during their flag day celebrations and came back with nine trophies. In 1995 a women's team won the 2500m sprint event in Tahiti at the South Pacific Games and finished fourth in the marathon despite being swamped and having to stop and bail. A goal is to send a team to the Moloka'i races once finances are better.

Plans are being made to stage a dugout canoe race around Rarotonga to be known as the Rarotollga Race. This would be along the lines of the Moloka'i and


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;beJow. Krls K./eldsen tests the organIc, Breadtl'ult canoe fur stabllltll. Stili was needed, ellen In the lagoon's flat

. water, to prellent the amo submergIng. There are plans , to. resolve thIs with larger omQ.


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Hawaiki Nui races, but to keep the traditional theme strong invitations to Pacific island nations would be extended with all equipment supplied.

On the local scene, paddlers train three times a week. For the past decade or so, local races have been held using the two canoes donated from Tahiti. In March 1996, races in the new solo outriggers were staged for age groups from five to thirteen. Winners of each division received paddles shaped by Mike. This encouragement and promotion is seen as essential to the future of Cook Island participation in the sport at all levels, as well as to cultural revival.

As it is for so many Polynesian people, Mike Tavioni feels a sense of pride in being associated with and involved in canoe paddling. Through it he stays in touch with Cook Island and Polynesian heritage, as well as sharing wood carving skills.

After paddling around the lagoon and talking story, we headed back to our hotel, only to be met later at the airport where Mike presented Kris and I with a paddle each and Alana, a hand carved whalebone turtle. The gods had been kind this day in making our meeting and exchange of Aloha possible. I left with a feeling of how wonderfully universal the canoe is throughout the Pacific and how it connects us all if we take an interest in its heritage. If ever you arc passing through Rarotonga contact Mike Tavioni or Paul Turepu by writing to:

PO Box 65, Rarotonga, Cook Islands. ...


Olympic Status for Outrigger Canoe Racing Reality or Fantasy?


As time marcne« illexorably on towards tile year 2000 allti allotller Olympic Came», many sporting disciplines seemingly wortlly of inclusion, will not feature and recent criticistllims been made of some Cllrrellt Olympic ellellts wllicll interes! ollly frillge grolil's alld IIalle aI/ tile appeal of watc1lillg pain! dry, wllilst otller more exciting sports, still strllggle for credibility. At tile same time, many sports fans and participants accept that tile respectioe world champiollsllip or world Clip eoents of certain sports (Jor example soccer) already represent the pillllacle of echietemen! in tllal spon and in this resect, does the sigllificance and inclllsion of sllcll a spor; ill tilt' OIY"'I'ics, really come to mean all tha: it shollld?

As liard a pill as it lIIay be to swallow, it sholiid be ackllowledged tllat whilst olltrigger canoe racing may II0t be as tame as syndrronised swimmillg ill atllietic or sl'ectator tt'mls, it is Ilolletlreless a minoritu sport ill terms of participants worldwide, and it will remain so Jor a 10llg time. The bottom line is that minority sports are simply II0t eligible for inclusion in tIle Olympics I,Otvetler wortllY we may belietle our sport to be.

TI,e '11tematiollal Poly"esian CallOt' Federatioll (Ircr) charter include« tile goal to hat»: oufrigger canoe racing aCCt'Pted as all Olympic sport. It is from til is organisation tha! the pllsh for Olympic statlls emanates. However, there are ellormOIlS dlal/ellges to overcome beJore tile Inte",ational Olympic Committee wOlild ellt'll /legin to consider olllri.~ger canoe racing as all Olympic s/,ort. Many of these cllallellges rellolve arolilld tile prereqllisites tllal any sport must meet ill order to be given Olympic statliS.

aile of tile IOC prerequisites is tllat the IPCF mus! gaill acceptance by and members1lip 10 II,e lnternaiiona! Calloe Federation (ICf J. This would be 110 small feat because under Cllrrellt lCF desigll rulings, ti,e 011 trigger csnoe for six people does IIOt qualify as a "omoe". It is jusl tllis sort of iSSlle wllidr represents tile tip of tile iceberg in tenns of Iralling outrigger canoe racing accepted as an Olympic etlent.


Ka'llu e uttU'le - Ob(lt,piC Status

This is not an easy subject, but I make no apology for trying to convey some home truths. Paddlers around the world need to appreciate the enormity of the challenges which the IPCF faces in achieving their goal of Olympic status due to various peculiarities of the sport which will have an effect on the quest.

My initial reaction in considering outrigger canoeing striving for Olympic status is that it seems to be diametrically opposed to other aims of the IPCF charter, namely, fostering the powerful cultural elements of outrigger canoe racing as well as bringing together the peoples of Oceania.

Olympic competitors are elite athletes whose success is largely determined by availability of training facilities and money. Not only do you need to be the best, but you need big bucks to represent your country at the Olympics. Money which comes from grants, scholarships, government funds or personal wealth is gobbled up over years of training, racing, travelling and equipment purchases. Which begs the question, where would a small, sparsely populated nation, such as those island regions who paddle, find this sort of cash to support them?

Taken a step further, which nations would win the majority of medals? In terms of outrigger canoe racing, is it safe to say that traditional "canoe" countries, who pride themselves on being the caretakers and original participants of the sport, may not be able to compete at this level, with those nations having the ludicrous amounts of money necessary to bring home medals? Assume that crews from mainland America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand (and eventually Europe) will be dominant and Fiji, Samoa, Tonga et ai, will not even get a look in. Countries with larger populations or bigger budgets will, as always, dominate.

Therein lies the dichotomy. A Pacific island sport introduced to the world via the Olympics and those cultures who really want to stand up to be counted for prowess in a sport that is fundamentally their own, will be outgunned by the players with more money, better facilities and bigger gene pools.

Furthermore, is it possible that we would see a greater watering-down of the cultural elements of the sport - a dilution of what it means to the cultures of Oceania? Outrigger canoe racing presented to the world, not as the originators would want it to be, but as the media and the rest of the world would have it?

I threw some of these concerns out on the Internet and a few of the responses were enlightening. Some ideas relate to the legacy of western imperialism and colonialism that island nations of the Pacific continue to carry ...

YOllr question regardillg outrigger canoe racing a"d the Olympics is quite tl,ougl,t provoking. My initial problem with the idea of outrigger calloe racing being all Olympic Sport is wl,o the participants will be.

Outrigger ealloe racing today is quite teellnologieal yet it is rooted in the cultures


of the peoples of the Pacific. The problem I see lies in the legaCl) of colonialism. MaffY of the illdigeffous peoples of Oceania are still subjects of Westen, powers. n,erefore maffY of the "ative people of th« Pacific are not free to paddle under their OW" flag. For example Tahitian« arId other French Polynesians would I,ave to paddle under the Frer,ch flag due to IOC rules. The same is true of Native Hawaiians who would I,ave to compete under the ba"ner of the United States of America.

Despite tl,ese reservations I think' olltrigger callOe racing becoming an Olympic sport would increase the exposure of the sport and grea tly enhance its competitiver,ess. If outrigger canoe racing were to become an Olympic sport I I,ave a feeling that Europeans, Australians, Cunadian» and Americans would do everrly well in th« sprints. The reason beillg tl,at these nations I,ave the money, training facilities and tl,e technological resources to be competitive. Marathon or distance racing is a di/ferefft ston). I think that the nations wllo have a Ilistory of being water sportspeople would have tl,e advatftage, namely Australia, New Zealmld, USA etcetera.

My step-father (wl,o is Native Hawaiian) and I often discuss lVl,etl,er or not outrigger canoe mcing is esser,tially cultural or purely for speed. Wllat we basically agree on is tl,at it is a combination of tl,e two. Wher, you are out in the water you are definitely tn)illg to go faster tl,all the other crews out there. Going faster is greatly enhanced by the marry ,leW tedmological inventions ill the sport. You are not thinki"g about allY historic or Cldhlral implicatiolls.

However, one cannot overlook the mana that a four J,undred pOUlld Koa canoe has. Rigging a Koa ca"oe is a cultural thing, because these were the vel, ides of transportation for the peoples of tl,e Pacific. Moreover, these Cltlhtral feelitlgs are also felt durillg the regatta season watc1,illg tl,e keiki's (cl,ildrtll) race alld seeillg their ohan« (family) there to meet them Oil shore witll leis alld I,ugs.

I think tl,at paddling is already all expensiue sport, witllOut it bei"g a" Olympic sport. Paddles, canoes, entry fees, travel expenses and everything else make outrigger cntloe racing all expensine sport. The top crews need to lrave botl, time and money to compete at tl,e ',ighest level - ill addition to athletic abilih). Amollgst paddlillg frietrds of mine we joke tl,at ti,e people best qualified to paddle are people with 110 jobs because they I,ave the time, alld wealtl,y people because they can make the time and have the mOlley it takes. If you are just all average persall YOIl sacrifice time with your family alld loved ones alld sll/fer financially.

III cIosillg I would say that I support the idea of outrigger calloe racing as all Olympic sport but witl, provision to be made for the indigenous peoples of the Pacific. It would not dilute tile sport culhtrally allY more thall it already is.

Malama ponD Kamakani Markham, Hilo, Hawai'i


Ka "IU e ultu'lt - Oll(»1piC Status

Kamakani is someone who (like many canoe paddlers of Hawaii) has made the sport very much a part of his life and in doing so has spent many hours considering just what it means to be a part of all that this sport represents. His observation of the legacy of colonialism is an enlightening concept about which many others are comfortably numb. What it serves to remind us of, is not only of the rather unpleasant past but also of the complexities of that remaining legacy and what it means ultimately to the cultural identity of this sport at the Olympic level.

So if you are Tahitian, you will be representing France and if you are Native Hawaiian, you will be representing the USA, and so on. The colonial legacy continues. The cultural heritage, which natural born canoe paddlers hold as proud and warrior-like, would be lumped-in with cultures that have no bearing on, nor association with the heritage of the outrigger canoe and its peoples. The reality is that provision is not made by the (OC for cultural sensitivities and needs. This must represent a challenge to overcome for the (PCF.

In terms of cultural dilution, there would seem to be an acceptance that this has already occurred - and certainly it has in terms of ritual and custom. However, fundamental deep-rooted, spiritual and cultural values are still very much inherent in the sport. These arc manifested and kept alive by many of the participants, spurned on by an understanding that this is one of the toughest sports on the planet, particularly in relation to long distance, open ocean racing which forces you to search deep within to overcome physical pain and fear in order to be the best you can and at one with the elements.

This next letter from the world's most unlikely outrigger growth area, Texas USA, emphasises expansion of the sport and a belief that outrigger canoe racing should strive to be included in the Olympics.

I absolutely feel it sllOuld be an Olympic event. TI.e sport I.as grown atld is expa"ding into new frontlet» even) year. Heck, evtll here in Texas we are getti"g rolling with aile clflb, maybe more! I do,.'t tllillk it would take away the cultural aspects beca.1Se there is sllch a deep-rooted spirihlal side to t/.e sport. SlIre it's fim, sure it's competitive, but it is also abollt coming together to accomplisll a sillgular goal.

More so tl.an any of the otner team sports ofltrigger canoe racing involves a1l almost communal commitment from it's paddlers. It is their commitment m,d mental tOflglmess tluu separates crews evell more so than fitnes« alld tedmique. How else could you explain the success of some of the recent "throw-together" crews? To make the ca"oe "fly" everyone "eeds to be in sy"c me"tally as well as physically. There hasn't bee" a singular tech"ique prove" to be the best. TI,e strongest team doesn't always Will, a"d the fittest tea", does 1I0t guaralltee victory.


It is a spirihtal event that only paddlers can truly relate to.

I believe you must I,ave both the long distance and tire sprints to get a trite picture of outrigger canoeing. TI,e sprints facilitate a spectator friendly event wl,ereas distance spotliglrt th« ruggedness of the sport. With this co",binatioll is tl,e possibility to draw a wide audience as well as some big dollar sponsor».

I disagree with tire sentiment that the Olympics have lost their ideals. The Dream Team may be farce, but for the other athletes a"d eve"ts tire Olympics is the ultimate pinnacle of success ill sport. Winnillg a gold medal in the Olympics siguifies being the best in the world at your sport. Money and fame can't take away from tbat:

But at tl,e same time it is more tlum that. In tire words of an Anlly recruitment poster, '70 be all that you can be." n,at's tl,e Olympic ideal.

For many the arrival at the games is tire biggest I,urdle, alld in that there is triumph eve" in tire face of defeat. One does not "eed to win a medal to eam tl,e respect of being one of t',e best and to be a prolld representative. Tlrat is t',e Olympic ideal at its [inest, to be the best you can be and also be a fine representative of your sport and country!

Frank Hooton, Lone Star Outrigger Canoe Club

Clearly a pro-Olympic response with a belief that the Olympic ideals are still in good shape. One of my questions, (lias) tile Olympics lost tile plot ill terms of its ideals, is a question we should all be asking ourselves, including the IPCF. Just how valid is the Olympic Games as a sporting event? There is cynicism and suspicion roused by commercial hype, abuse of drugs, terrorism and the absurd and almost obscene amount of money invested in medal winning ("buying" medals). Public confidence in the validity of the Olympics would seem to have been eroded, to some extent.

So, just what is it that Olympic status can do for the sport of outrigger canoe racing? I suggest that it will not improve the level of competition over what is currently experienced at the World Sprint Championships, Moloka'i and Hawaiki Nui Va'a distance events. Currently the Moloka'i distance races for men and women attract elite crews from all over and are widely accepted as the "World Distance Championships" of sport. By virtue of the nature of the Kaiwi Channel, the stretch of open ocean separating Moloka'i and Oahu, a distance race at an artificial Olympic venue would seem lame in comparison. There is only one Moloka'i and only one Hawaiki Nui Va'a!

In considering some of the obstacles facing the IPCF in achieving this goal, here are a few sobering thoughts. Firstly, the politics. According to their Charter, only certain sporting bodies are recognised by the International Olympic Committee (Joe) - the


International Canoe Federation (ICF) being one of them. This means that the lPCF has to be a member of the International Canoe Federation. In this way, it is the ICI' which holds the key to outrigger canoe racing's acceptance by the IOC. However, the outrigger canoe is not even recognised as a "canoe" by the statutes of the ICF, SO any IPCF effort whilst these statutes remain in force would seem futile.

One suggestion in overcoming this, is that individual outrigger associations or federations should join their national canoeing associations or federations which are already associated with the ICF and in this way gain possible "backdoor" entry to the ICF. This would still not gain acceptance however, as ICF design requirements preclude outrigger canoes from being seen as canoes.

It seems a great irony that outrigger canoes, representing one of the most significant contributions to maritime history and the development of canoe architecture, are not even recognised as canoes by the single most powerful and influential canoeing federation on the planet.

If they aren't canoes, what the hell are they? In my understanding, whether a seacraft is a canoe or not, relates to a beam-to-length ratio in the order of six to one, or in other words, narrow and much longer than they are wide. There I was all those years, along with all you other suckers, thinking they were canoes. Well they are not it seems, so get used to it. Question is, what should we call them?

Taking another look at this deal consider some alternatives. Clearly the ICF ideals have already been contaminated, from the purist's point of view, with the inclusion of kayak in the leF's smorgasbord of paddle craft, as kayaking cannot be UI;Ui:iIUt:.1.J


by any stretch of the imagination, as canoeing. Ask the Eskimo if you are unsure.

Rowers, on the other hand, seem to have the right idea with the formation of the International Rowing Federation. Rowing is a paddle (or oar) sport as the craft is propelled through the water by means of a leverage device and biornechanical application. My point being, why should we struggle for membership of the In when clearly that body does not have the interests of outrigger canoe racing at heart or compassion for its cultural needs?

The ICF has actually suggested that once outrigger associations and federations have joined their respective national canoeing association or federation, that every effort should be made to encourage outrigger paddlers to swap to kayak paddling! Does this sound like a crafty recruitment plan or what?

To give an example, the Australian Canoe Federation (ACF) went through a stage of hounding the Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing Association to become members. When it got down to the nitty gritty it became clear that whilst outrigger canoe paddlers would add some two and a half thousand members to the A(T and proportionally increase the amount of government funding, as far as distribution of those funds, outrigger would receive a mere token with the bulk of the money going

to recognised Olympic sports. the case in New Zealand.

So getting back to my point, the fact that outrigger canoe paddling

with . equipment which precludes it from being

~R~I::rld thing to do is for the I pC!; to strive for federation. Whilst this process may take control of the sport.

a national level, if outrigger canoe racing

country, being separate from main stream bodies such as the ICt: or that countries a non-issue and attracting government case in New Zealand where the national Canoe Sporting Federation (Nga Kaihoe

,~i~ett1i1bfitihled that outrigger canoe paddling is unique with ognised as such and funded individually, to looking to expand this to some $300000 Zealand Canoeing Federation or the 1(1'. lIfr'IV"'~"- canoe racing has expanded enough and if it is, there will be a further time the first games in which the sport makes in the Olympic Games any sport must be on four continents (this being for men after the year 2000) with lorty countries


Ka 'nu e ult ase - Oltth1plC Status

and three continents (presently required for women).

In the light of these requirements, let us consider where we are at present. (Time for a reality check.) When we look at the membership list of the II'CF, American Samoa, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Guam and Marianas Islands would fall under the flag of the United States. Rapa Nui (Easter Islands) would race under the banner of Chile. Hong Kong would be with China. Canada, Stahlo and the Native Participation Committee would be part of Canada. France, Tahiti, Wallis Futuna and New Caledonia would be recognised as France. Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Western Samoa, Italy and the United Kingdom would stand alone. This gives a total of thirteen countries - a shortfall of sixty-two countries for men and twenty-seven for women, before the new ruling come into effect.

International Canoe Federation representative Andy Toro attended the IPCF meeting after the 1996 Moloka'i to give insight into future prospects of outrigger canoe racing being accepted as an Olympic sport. He confirmed what many of us already know but have a hard time accepting, and that is, it is increasingly difficult to gain Olympic status.

In order to realise the enormity of the IPCF task we must acknowledge all the implications. It is important to protect the uniqueness of the sport, being sensitive to its peculiarities both culturally and geographically, and to accept that Olympic status, however achieved, may come at too high a cost.

There arc many who believe that the II'CF would do better to concentrate its efforts on development worldwide to achieve the number of participating nations required before making a bid for stand-alone acceptance by the 10C. Reaching beyond the sparse, fragmented population of Oceania into mainland America and Europe, outrigger canoe racing surely will, given time, attract the numbers to gain strength, credibility and acceptance as a unique and popular sport in its own right.

A viable alternative to striving for Olympic status would seem to be for the IPCF to focus on existing international events that already attract the world's best paddlers and are, officially or unofficially, regarded as "world championships". Importantly, these events would be more representative of all participating canoe cultures. In terms of both money and competition, they would be within reach of the greatest number of paddlers from the greatest number of participating nations. Furthermore, bringing competitors from around the globe could only be of financial benefit to organisers and the nations of Oceania.

Many venues within Oceania, apart from being ideally suited to outrigger canoe racing, evoke all that the sport represents physically, culturally and spiritually. It is here that there is a recognition and honouring of canoe culture and a valuing of the cultural links engendered by the canoe, fostering the powerful cultural elements of outrigger canoe racing, as well as bringing together the outrigger O/lalla.


The World Wide Web

of Outrigger Canoe Paddling


If you are the sort of person who breaks out in a nertous sweat jllst IIsillg all atm or finds programming the video machine all intellectual cllallenge of epic proportions, then chances are messing arollnd with the Internet alld computers probably send« YOIl into a similar cendiiion. Well here's a good reasoll to get over YOllr paralloia, because tile Internel has become a way cool place to hang Ollt and explore the many 011 trigger related sites that are beg;,ming to festoon cyber space.

"Paddling the Net" is definitely becoming a way to keep in ioud: with what's gO;IIg Oil 0111 there on Planet Olltrigger and bel)olld. Snooping arolllld the 011 trigger Well Sites (Wlrat the hell's a Web Site? YOIl may be asking) YOIl will learn a heap of stuff YOIl IIever kneu:

There is tile all trigger List, which has well over four Illmdred members all over ti,e world who reglliarly e-mail messages to one another individllally, or to all in one I,it.

III a sport rapidly becoming spread alit across the globe, yet one that is, for mallY of liS, a minority, esoteric preoccupation, being oniine and IISillK tire Web as a resollrce makes economic sellse for kllOwledge-/lImgry paddlers.

First of all, it is with humility, that I can claim to be eminently qualified to write this piece regarding the World Wide Web, e-mail and all thingscyber.This is because (no idle boast) I have found that the best way to have techno stuff like this downloaded to you is by people like myself. People who once were techno-phobic. People who once did not know the difference between a quadruped ram (featuring mouth at one end and bum at the other) and computer ram. However I acknowledge that the more computer literate amongst you may feel that what I have to say is like a child's introduction to the subject - to you, my apologies.

Be that as it may, this is not meant as a lesson in Internet or computer technology. Rather, in plain English, it explains how the Internet can be your path to a more fulfiling outrigger paddling experience if you can spend time on the Web exploring Outrigger Sites and sending e-mail to fellow paddlers.

Basically the World Wide Web is a massive reference book full of pages of sites (or places) to visit via a computer which is set up to do so, having special software and a modem - an electronic device like a telephone, which links your computer to others. The technology is not overly expensive and can be purchased as part of a


regular PC package. Ask your sales person to explain more.

Moving rapidly away from hardware and software needs, Web Sites are designed and created by seriously enthusiastic individuals who spend late nights and early mornings hammering away at their creations (me included). All done in the vain hope that what they have to say is unbelievably relevant, important and altogether a creation bordering on genius, that humankind simply cannot be without.

This is the great thing about Web Sites. They are unendingly varied and provide an absolute plethora (a lot) of information, some of it very useful. With so much information and from so many sources, there is a danger of being swamped, but the potential to be informed far outweighs the risks.

Web sites include graphics and photos, text (of course) and importantly, links to other sites. The quality of the design is in the hands of the creator - some are good and some arc decidedly bad, due largely to poor layout and inappropriate use or over-usc of graphics. By simply clicking on the name of a related site, your modem is off searching and in seconds you have moved from Maui to Australia or Texas. It blows you away. When the novelty of the technology wears off, the need to know and communicate keeps you going back.

Each site has a unique Web Page address or in more unfriendly terms a Universal Resource Locator (URL). Our address at Ka'nu Culture is a typical example: hUp:llwww.ozemail.com.au/-kanu. Essentially it is a whole 10Ua abbreviations which serve to distinguish one site from the others. Typing the address into your Web Browser (software that searches for Web Site addresses) you will arrive at our site. The time for something to appear on the screen depends on a host of things, often on the speed of your modem (spend more bucks and get the fastest - trust me, you'll save on phone bills). The amount of graphics contained in the Web Site you are downloading (retrieving) will also affect the time it takes.

There arc other software applications which are dedicated to searching out key words. For example type in "outrigger" and wait to see what comes up. This can take up to a minute (relative to modem speed etcetera) and you will end up with a list of outrigger-related sites to select from, but will also include Sites such as the outrigger hotels.

It must be stressed that the Web and e-mail are two different things each requiring separate software packages. As for e-mail, well that's pretty simple. The "e" stands for electronic, hence "electronic mail". A separate e-mail address is allocated to you, part of which you choose. For example, the Ka'nu Culture e-mail address is: kanu®ozemail.com.au. with the word "kanu" being our choice. The symbol @ means "at" and "ozemail" is our "service provider" (the big guns to whom we pay a monthly fee for being online). The word "com" means


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