The Outrigger Canoe Club’s first koa racing canoe was the Hanakeoki which was built by the Paris Brothers in Kealakekua around 1900 and owned originally by Dr. Alford Wall. The name means “working George” and refers to George R. Carter, who was Territorial Governor from 1903-1907. The canoe was purchased by the Outrigger Canoe Club around 1908 with prize money from a number of races. In those days money was given as prizes to the winners of canoe races. After each race, the judges would throw the prize money to the crew, and they had to dive out of the canoe and recover the money. The Outrigger Canoe Club was an amateur organization and the paddlers could not accept the money, so they all agreed to let the Club treasurer, Allen Herbert, hold the money until they had enough to purchase the Hanakeoki. After a number of winning races the canoe was purchased at a very reduced rate.
The Hanakeoki originally had a calabash shape.
The first recorded regatta for the Hanakeoki was September 16, 1906, two years before the founding of the OCC. The canoe was one of three entered in the regatta at Honolulu Harbor for the Territorial Championships. The crew of haole in the Hanakeoki were later to become the founders of the OCC.
The other two canoes were the Alabama (with a Hawaiian crew from Kona) which was owned by Arthur M. Brown, and Prince Cupid’s (Kuhio) canoe, the A (also with Hawaiian paddlers from Kona). The A won by a half-length over the Hanakeoki. It started the age-old debate: do paddlers win the race or is it the canoe?
In 1910, after Outrigger again lost to Prince Cupid’s A, OCC captain Kenneth “Rusty” Brown reportedly said that the men of Kona had won because of their superior canoe. Kona graciously agreed to a second race with swapped canoes and six days later defeated Outrigger for the second time. After the race, according to the Honolulu Advertiser, Prince Cupid reportedly kidded the OCC, telling them: “that they could take his canoe A to Hawaii and race flying fish until they worked up some speed.”
The Hanakeoki was taken to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle in 1909 and raced, sailed and took passengers for rides on lakes. It was a very colorful sight, polished up and looked like a piece of beautiful furniture, always sitting on the water. OCC member Vincent Genoves was a member of the crew that took that trip. The canoe was used in many exhibits in fairs, carnivals, in the harbor and in parades.
Upon her return to Hawaii the canoe was placed again in the old grass thatched dance pavilion of the Club. Fortunately for all on the night when the roof of the Pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1915, the canoe just happened to be stored elsewhere and so was saved.
One of the great Outrigger Canoe Club crews that paddled in the Hanakeoki around 1908 consisted of Knute William Cottrell, Vincent Genoves, Harry Steiner, Ray Melanphy, Dad Center and Kenny Brown. They were undefeated in all their races. Other Club members who paddled in the Hanakeoki included Charles Lambert, Tom Muirhead, Pump Searle, Ernest and Edric Cook, Joe Stickney, Francis Bowers, Ronald Higgins, Toots Minvielle and James O’Dowda. The women of the Hanakeoki were Mariechen Wehselau Jackson, Lily Bowmer McKenzie, Helen Moses Cassidy, Josephine Hopkins Garner, Dot Martin O’Dowda, Helen Martin and Ruth Scudder Gilmar.
In the old days when sailing canoes were popular, the Hanakeoki was often rigged by Dad Center for sailing and was considered to be one of the finest of sailing canoes. Dad Center, Duke Kahanamoku, Gay Harris and others sailed her in many races.
Once Outrigger purchased the Leilani and Kakina in 1933, the Hanakeoki was primarily used for training. The canoe could win under certain circumstances but had a hard time competing with the lighter and sleeker Leilani and Kakina.
In 1947, OCC Beach Captain George Downing wanted to enter the 4th of July Macfarlane Regatta. He didn’t have a canoe, so borrowed the Hanakeoki from Outrigger. The official competitors were OCC, Hui Nalu, McCabe-Hamilton & Renny and the Hawaiian Civic Club. Downing and Wally Froiseth had so much fun that they decided to start their own canoe club, the Waikiki Surf Club, and became official competitors in the Macfarlane race from 1948 on.
Outrigger first entered the Molokai race in 1954, the third year the event was held, and finished fifth in the Hanakeoki. Only four members of the OCC crew (Bill McCracken, John Russell, Jim Smith and Allen Wooddell) were OCC members. The others were a pick up crew from the military. OCC also raced the Hanakeoki in the Molokai race in 1955 with an all-OCC crew (Doug Carr, Paul Dolan, Al Lemes, Frenchie Lyons, Jack Mattice, Tom Moore, Bob Muirhead, Hall Schaffer and Tom Schroeder) and finished fourth.
Over the years as the Hanakeoki was raced, the OCC lightened her considerably, however, she still could not compete with the Leilani and Kakina.
In 1959, the Hanakeoki was hanging in the old canoe shed at the Club. It was loaned to the Beach Boys to use in the 1959 and 1960 Molokai races. After the Molokai race, Harry Field of Maui Canoe Club appealed to the Club to borrow the canoe for their Prince Kuhio Regatta. They agreed to repair the canoe and pay shipping expenses. The OCC Board of Directors approved the loan of the canoe for two years.
In 1965, the Hanakeoki was loaned to Hui Nalu, whose famous canoe the White Horse was used during the filming of James Michener’s epic movie Hawaii. The White Horse was damaged during the filming of the movie and Hui Nalu used the Hankeoki while repairs were made.
The Hanakeoki was sold to Makaha Canoe Club, a new canoe club in 1971, for $1,500. Now more than 115 years old, the Hanakeoki is the oldest koa racing canoe still in competition.