This oral history interview is a project of the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The legal rights of this material remain with the Outrigger Canoe Club. Anyone wishing to reproduce it or quote at length from it should contact the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions that are not factual. A full transcript of the video may be found below.
An Interview by Marilyn Kali
June 15, 2018
MK: Today is Friday June 15, 2018. We’re in the Board Room of the Outrigger Canoe Club. I’m Marilyn Kali, a member of the Club’s Historical Committee. One of the Historical Committee’s projects is to do oral histories of long time members. Today it’s my pleasure to be talking to one of our most accomplished volleyball players and Winged “O” Chris Crabb. Good morning Chris.
CKC: Good morning.
MK: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? When and where you born and where you grew up?
CKC: I was actually born in the Kahuku Hospital. My family, my dad worked out in … on the North Shore. He had a feed store. And my mom taught school at Waialua Elementary. Anyway, I was born there. We lived there for probably five or six years. We had belonged to a little beach club called Waialua Beach Club. And there was a volleyball, sand volleyball court there. And all the adults would play. And I’d try to get on the court and that’s where I fell in love with the game, my dad played. My other members played. And then from there we moved to Wahiawa from Wahiawa, my dad he worked for the Union Oil Company and he became the manager in Hilo. So we moved over to Hilo for a few years. And from Hilo, I got into Punahou. We moved back to Honolulu and I went from eighth grade ’till I graduated from Punahou in 1964.
MK: What were your parents names?
CKC: My dad was Charles Crabb. And my mom was Libana Crabb.
MK: What was her maiden name?
MK: Do you have any siblings?
CKC: I have one brother and two sisters. Tony is my brother. And Mary and Maile are my sisters.
MK: And who’s the oldest?
CKC: Maile’s the oldest. Tony’s next. I’m number three. And Mary’s the youngest.
MK: You graduated in 1964 from Punahou. What other Outrigger members were in your class? Do you remember?
CKC: Mike Pietch, Buzzy Lee, Fred Hemmings, Hoagy Gamble, Bill Johnson. Wayne Nasser. There’s quite a few of them.
MK: Did you play any sports in high school?
CKC: I did a little swimming. A little tennis, some swimming, some water polo. Those were my main sports. I was dabbling a little bit in volleyball. That was the first year that they had the ILH (Interscholastic League of Honolulu). But I didn’t play for the school.
MK: One of your sports was tennis you said? How did you get interested in tennis?
CKC: My dad played tennis. Belonged to the Beretania Tennis Club. I just started to play as well. So I played for Punahou and then I actually played in college as well for two years.
MK: Where did you go to college?
CKC: My first two years I was Colorado School of Mines in Golden. And my last two years I was at the University of Washington in Seattle.
MK: And what did you major in?
CKC: Sciences. Mostly the sciences. Got a bachelor of science.
MK: Did you play any sports in college?
CKC: I swam a little bit, and I played tennis in college.
MK: What events did you swim?
CKC: At the time, I think it was yards, 50 yards, freestyle.
MK: You were a sprinter?
CKC: Freestyles, yes.
MK: When you graduated, what kind of work did you do?
CKC: I actually got a job as an animal trainer, porpoise trainer out at NAC, which is near Kaneohe Marine Air Corps Force Station. They had several animal training sites. One was the sea lions. One was porpoises and one was the orcas. And I was a trainer for a year at training porpoises. Atlantic Bottlenosed Dolphins. And then after that … well go ahead, what were you gonna say?
MK: Oh I was gonna say, that must’ve been fun. My husband did the same thing at Sea Life Park.
CKC: Yeah, it was interesting because I think shortly thereafter, there was the film The Day of the Dolphins. Where we were training the dolphins to go and tag things and mark things and these were wild Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins from … they brought them over from the Atlantic and we had to train them from when they were … just from the wild. And a couple of them where wild.
MK: Did you let them loose in the ocean?
CKC: Actually there was a big storm that came along and the winds came down the opposite way, it was a southern … a Kona storm and the winds came down and they got up to almost a hundred miles an hour, and the waves in Kaneohe Bay were four feet high. And we had our pens on the far side and these waves came and broke open some of our pens and couple of them got away and we were able to go and get them back. One of my jobs was, I had to make a portable net, so I had this big … I made this big thing out of PVC with a netting around it, where we would go out there and lure them into the net. So we got them back and back into the pen.
MK: My husband had the experience of doing the same thing. They were using … I don’t know if they were using Pacific Bottlenose, or if they using Spinners, but they took them out and they were apparently there must have been sharks in the water because the porpoises refused to get out of the cages.
CKC: Oh really.
MK: Or if they did get out, they came scooting back in. They didn’t want anything to do with it. Very good experience. After, you said you did that for about a year.
CKC: Yes and then I got my teaching degree from the University of Hawaii. I got a professional teaching degree. And I spent fourteen years in Waianae and seventeen years in Niu Valley (Intermediate School), as a public school teacher.
MK: What did you teach?
CKC: Science. Middle school science. All variety of sciences.
MK: Did you enjoy it?
CKC: Yes, challenging. Lots of joy, lots of stress. But worthwhile. It was more of a calling, than something like “Oh I want to go do this.” It was more like something that I had to do. Inside of me, and it was a calling and I did it. And I’m glad I did it, and I don’t miss it anymore.
MK: When did you retire?
CKC: Let’s see, maybe 2006. Yeah, around 2006.
MK: After thirty-one. . .
CKC: Thirty-one years.
MK: Congratulations, you made it. That’s wonderful. Were your parent’s members at the Outrigger?
CKC: They were members of the Outrigger.
MK: Did you recall when they joined?
CKC: I’m not sure if we were members when the Club was down in Waikiki but we used to go there. I know their membership number was sixty-one. Everybody says “The lower the number, the longer you’ve been a member.” They might’ve been members down there. I remember going there. In fact, I’m sure they were. They were members for a long time.
MK: Did they paddle or play volleyball or anything?
CKC: Nope, nope.
CKC: Didn’t do either.
MK: Do you have any memories of the Old Club?
CKC: Just walking through the entry and going by the volleyball courts and then they had a Hau Terrace with a snack bar. I don’t really have that many memories of that Club, but I did go there.
MK: When did you join?
CKC: I don’t know, I saw in your notes it was around 1967, but I’m not sure.
MK: That’s the date they have on file here.
CKC: That’s about right. Something like that.
MK: So you were out of college when you joined?
CKC: No. I wasn’t. I graduated in 1969 from college. So I guess I was-
MK: While you were in college?
CKC: Yeah, must’ve joined that.
MK: Do you remember who your sponsors were?
CKC: I don’t. I don’t recall. Maybe I didn’t need one because my parents were, I’m not sure.
MK: Oh, could be. Did you get involved with the volleyball program right away after you joined?
CKC: I fell in love with playing up here on the beach and played a bunch of beach. And then my brother was very involved in volleyball. He had played at Church College, for the Church College of Hawaii. And then I just started to play. And I joined the Y. And I played with the Y initially. And there was a … the Y, there were teams, and Outrigger had a team. So that’s where I started my indoor, YMCA, Central Y.
MK: Well you played on teams at the Outrigger for six decades. I went back and looked. That’s a long time. What position did you play?
CKC: I’d guess you’d say I was in … mostly an outside hitter.
MK: And you played both indoor and beach but you started with beach?
MK: Well you were on fourteen national championships teams with the Outrigger. And you were all American, sixteen times.
MK: And you were the most valuable player at the nationals three times. That’s an amazing career. And those I guess were the golden years of volleyball at the Club.
MK: Why were our teams so successful all those years?
CKC: For whatever reason, this was a Mecca for volleyball players, the Outrigger and people wanted to join and the good players knew that the Outrigger had a great reputation, a good history of playing volleyball, so they came here, joined the Club, and we always had really good teams. Olympic players. Even before my time, they had the 1964 Olympics with Tommy Haine and Pete Valasco, Jon Stanley. They were the core of the 1964 Olympic team. And 1968. And so I think that also attracted me back then. Those guys were my heroes. And that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to follow in their footsteps.
MK: What’s the secret to winning so many national titles?
CKC: Just practicing, working out, being a good teammate. Having a passion for the sport. And usually that translates into success.
MK: Who were some of your teammates during the years?
CKC: Charlie Jenkins, Jon Stanley, Tom Madison, Chris MacLachlin, Dave Shoji, my brother, Tom Selleck, Mike Cote, Jon Haneberg.
MK: You had quite a nucleus and they kept coming back year after year.
MK: Did all of you play together all the way from AA, all the way up to masters?
CKC: Most of us did. Although Jon Stanley, and Randy Shaw, were playing with the Armed Forces. Outrigger at the time had their own guys. And so were separated and we played against each other. And then after they got out of the service, then they joined the Outrigger, and played for the Outrigger.
MK: Did you guys train year around?
CKC: Well we probably played beach during the summer. And then the indoor season was from November ’till May. So that’s the way it split up.
MK: Has Outrigger pretty much built its own players from the ground up, homegrown players, or do we bring in new blood every once in a while?
CKC: Yeah definitely combination of Punahou School I think, and Outrigger, had this symbiotic relationship where they … one fed off the other. You’d play there in high school, you’d come here, you’d play on the beach. And then you go transition from the beach to indoors.
MK: During the years that you’ve been playing, what has Outrigger done to nurture our volleyball teams?
CKC: They’ve always provided great support. Monetary support, getting us gyms. Giving us money to go, paying for our way, or most of our way to go to the national tournaments. We’ve always had group support from the Board and fellow members.
MK: Well you traveled to many national championships with Outrigger teams. Would you share some of the highlights of those tournaments?
CKC: Well one … we didn’t go to the nationals this time, but we were invited to go down and play the Tahitian national team. And so the Outrigger went down to Tahiti and provided us with a hotel room and our own bus and our bus driver, a French soldier, and we played the Tahitian national team. And we’d go around and their courts were just asphalt with a Quonset Hut roof. It’d be pouring rain. The rain would be getting on us and we’d be playing the Tahitian national team. They were in their infancy in trying to get the sport going. And actually, Tommy Conner was on our team. And he took us all down to the water and we all paddled in their pretty primitive canoes. Anyway, people think that Tahiti’s been doing this for years, but actually their canoes were just coconut trees that had been hallowed out with a wire `iaku and ama. They’ve blossomed and grown since then, but that was a trip that I remember.
MK: What year was that?
CKC: That was probably in the 1970s I’m guessing. 1970. Give or take.
MK: So did we beat them?
CKC: Yeah, we did. They weren’t as sophisticated and they were new about it. And we were … but the other … the national tournaments, the ones I remember mostly, they had one in Hilo. They had one here. And those were memorable for us to play here in Hawaii.
MK: And how did we do in those tournaments?
CKC: Usually we ended up around fifth place. And then one year, we played and we ended up, we took third. And that was our biggest accomplishment for the open. But I think another team, when actually what happened was I went and played professionally, I was drafted and played. There was a professional league on the mainland, I got drafted, I went and played with San Diego. And there was a big division between amateur sports and professional sports. So the USA Volleyball banned everybody that played in this pro league. So I was banned from playing in USA Volleyball for three years. And at that time, the Outrigger put together a team and they ended up in the finals. In fact, I think it was in a Hilo nationals. Where they ended up in the finals and I wasn’t on that team. But they ended up losing, they took second.
MK: So what year were you playing in the pros?
CKC: That had to be around 1971, 1972, something like that.
MK: So that’s while you were in college?
CKC: No, after college. Maybe 1973, 1974. It’s called the IVA and-
MK: Dodge Parker, was the coach for the team?
CKC: Dodge Parker had a team.
MK: Jon Stanley had a team.
CKC: Jon Stanley had a team. My brother was on a team. Tom Madison was on a team.
MK: And the league disappeared after a while. Didn’t have a sponsors.
CKC: Right. My owners were Barry Gordy, and Diana Ross, so it was kind of fun. They’d show up for some of our matches and come in the locker room afterwards. And Barry and Diana would be there. So it was celebrities, yeah.
MK: And how did they get interested in sponsoring a pro volleyball team?
CKC: I have no idea who got them to own the team. No idea. Our coach, player coach was Rudy Carara. And so maybe he found the sponsor.
MK: And you played for three years you said?
CKC: No, I only played one. My wife was pregnant. She was not doing well … the pregnancy was hard and anyway, after that year, I stopped playing. Came back here. And I actually, when I was banned from playing, I could still coach. And that’s when I coached Tommy Haine and our masters team and we won an AAU championship I believe during that time. So I ended up coaching those three years. The older guys.
MK: If you were going to pick an all-star Outrigger team, the best players during our glory years, regardless of their ages, who would be on that team? Position by position? For six man. Who’s the best setter we ever had?
CKC: The best setter we ever had was Charlie Jenkins. And then of course, Jon Stanley would be in the middle. And then some of the younger players after I played were Michael Lambert, be on the outside. And Kevin Wong maybe. In fact, right now we have … I shouldn’t say only Charlie, because we have Micah Christianson is our Olympic setter and he’s our present day Olympic setter.
MK: When did they get the libero position?
CKC: I think they’ve had for a while now, maybe at least ten years. But everybody seems to like it. And it lets somebody with a different skill set stay on the court and play the game.
MK: Did you coach any of the winning teams that Outrigger had that you played on?
CKC: Well in our day, when we played in the masters division, we were player coaches, but-
MK: Everybody took a turn?
CKC: Well, no I mean I was the coach, I mean I think I was listed as a coach, for some of those teams. But it was … we just all understood and played together and it was more like a captain, although I was listed as a coach I think on some of the teams.
MK: I know Randy (Shaw) said he coached a few years and Jon Stanley said he coached a few years and they kinda … whoever had the time that year, whatever it took, right?
MK: What do you think your biggest contribution was to the team?
CKC: I’d have to say just my passion for the game. And I always tried my best on every single play. I never … so maybe by example. I just gave it one hundred percent every single play. Every touch.
MK: Some of the players from your era played well into their sixties; what made you all so competitive for so long?
CKC: Oh yeah. It’s funny, we did it for so long and then all of a sudden our bodies wouldn’t let us do it anymore. And we came to a pretty finite stop. The end of the whole thing. But we loved it. It was a passion for us, we all liked each other. We all played for each other and … plus being a small Club, you have to accept who’s on the team as well. It’s not like you can go out and get other guys. And that’s the way it is with the Outrigger. I mean they’ll do some recruiting, you’ll get some of the guys and get them to be members, as a whole, it’s a membership that each person decided to do on their own. And then together as a team.
MK: Well Outrigger dominated the sport for years and years at the nationals. But we haven’t entered an adult team since 2006. What happened?
CKC: I think part of it, this is not all of it, is because just the nationals themselves are different. Before, the best players in the US would go to the nationals to play. The very best. And now, it’s not so much anymore. It’s almost recreational now, the nationals. They encourage mixed doubles. They encourage all age groups. And all divisions. In our day, you went and played in the … there was only one division you played in, that was the open division. Now, you can go in and play in an A division, a B division, a AA division, and it’s watered down. And I think, partly it’s USA Volleyball’s doing. Maybe that’s what they wanted to do, is have it watered down and have more people participate. But I liked when I played obviously, you wanted to go and play the best. And that’s what I felt it was like. It was a true US open.
MK: Who was our stiffest competition?
CKC: Originally it was West Side. They had all the other Olympians and the stars and-
MK: They were from LA?
CKC: Yeah. The Felalas and Larry Rundell and Butch May, and it was a group of guys that put together pretty-
MK: Are they still going strong or did they. . .
CKC: No, going strong, no. I think it was called West Side Jewish Center or something like that.
MK: Has the Club changed its focus now to youth teams?
CKC: Yeah, I think that’s part of it too. But that may just be because there’s no adults that are going to the nationals anymore. And so their shift is to the youth movement. Which is good, I mean that’s-
MK: Well you coached some of the youth teams that we’ve had. And I think you coached a couple of national titles at Junior Olympics.
CKC: I don’t know if I did or not, we took a couple of seconds. I don’t think I ever won a national title.
MK: What age groups did you coach?
CKC: Twelves, thirteens, fourteens, fifteens, sixteens, seventeens and eighteens.
MK: All of ’em?
CKC: All of ’em.
MK: You coached your kids going up?
MK: This year I guess we only have one or two (teams). We used to have kids in all of those divisions and now we only have maybe an 18s, or a 12s or something. We don’t have as many. Why do you think that is?
CKC: Well there have been … there’s been a growth of other volleyball clubs. And so they can join those clubs easily. They could just go and sign up. Whereas you have to become a member here and pay the dues and so I think that’s what’s happened. There are several quality clubs. Kevin Wong’s got a big club (Spike and Serve) and … I think their philosophy almost is bring all the … anybody who wants can sign up. So let’s say seventy kids sign up, and then they’ll just divide it into five teams. The top twelve guys and the next twelve, and the next. So then they’ll run as many teams as people sign up. But they’ll cast a big net, and I think that’s the situation now. Which is good.
MK: You always played a lot of sand volleyball. The Club used to have tournaments year around and now it’s really only the Daddy and maybe a few others. What happened?
CKC: Boy that’s a good question, because our tournaments back then felt like they meant something. They weren’t year round, they were just during the summer. But we had a schedule, and we had a State Tournament and a Club tournament and Kane-Wahine and Junior-Senior and I loved it, thought it was great. It meant a lot to me.
MK: But we don’t have them anymore.
CKC: No, we just have one or two now. And I’m not sure why that is. I know with the young … with the adults, the young adults, there’s a AVP Next. Which is a tournament that’s run by the AVP. And I know, I think we ran one here. But maybe with only two courts. And they’re able to play down at Queen’s and setup more courts. They have that facility, so this one isn’t as needed.
MK: Well you’ve won all of those major sand tournaments that we used to have. Who were some of your favorite partners over the years?
CKC: Yeah I won my only State Tournament with Charlie Jenkins. A couple other highlights, where I played against Karch Kiraly, who was considered the best player of all time. He played in the tournament, his partner was Peter Ehrman. I played with Mike Cote and they killed us, and he (Kiraly) ended up winning the tournament. But that’s something that I remember. When I was playing beach, I could rarely ever beat Tommy Haine, and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t beat him. So I had to wait ’till he was older and couldn’t play anymore. But he had a great partnership with Paul MacLaughlin and they were almost untouchable.
MK: What was it like playing against him?
CKC: It was awesome. I mean he was such a great hitter and a competitor, great role model for all of us to look up to him and be like him.
MK: You said you played against him and lost. Did you ever play with him?
CKC: Not in a tournament, no. He had his partner and most of the time played with Paul. And they won everything.
MK: What do you remember most about the way he played?
CKC: Just played hard and every pass, and every set, and every hit was … he was like a machine. He just didn’t make a mistake. Back then, you couldn’t block over the net. So it was almost impossible to score a point off of him.
MK: That’s a pretty good reputation.
CKC: I should say it was impossible. Not almost. It was impossible to score a point on … in those days, it wasn’t rally scoring. You had to serve a point by … you got a point by serving the ball. So every time we served the ball, of course they would always get a side out. We could never score a point on them. That’s how good they were.
MK: What did you learn about the game from watching him play?
CKC: He had this great little dink shot and he didn’t always hit it hard. He had this little dink roll shot that was very effective because you’re always on your heels thinking he’s gonna bomb the ball. And he’d use this little dink shot. He had variety to his game as well.
MK: Did you try using the same shots that he did?
CKC: I can’t do it to this day. Just so unique. Great shot that he had, can’t do it.
MK: Well last year, you and Wayne Kekina went down to the World Masters Games in Australia and you came away with the World Championship in the 70s division. What was that like?
CKC: It was very well run. The masters, whoever the organization is, it runs the World Masters Games every four years, and Wayne has been asking me for years “Hey, let’s go do it.” And so I finally said “Okay, let’s do it.” But the organization who ran it, they’re like ten thousand volunteers, all the sports. Thirty-five thousand athletes. And the venue was … the guy that ran the venue did a great job. It was well organized. He provided lots of playing time for us. And the 70 division really, if you step out in the court basically, you’re gonna get a medal.
MK: There aren’t that many teams?
CKC: No, there were four teams. And two of the teams, were from Latvia. And they’d only see the sun like two months out of the year. So I say we have a distinct advantage over them. But anyway, we played in the 65 division as well and there were more teams. We took the silver in that division and probably had better competition in the 65 division.
MK: Well Jon Stanley says that he has competed in the World Games and come out with the gold medals. Was anybody else from Hawaii at the World Games?
CKC: There’s a gal by the name of Logan Tom who’s a famous … her father was Mel Tom, she’s an Olympian from … she’s Hawaiian. Lives in Long Beach. She went and was at the games, playing at the games.
MK: In volleyball?
CKC: Yes, but there a lot of Hawaiians in other sports. Paddling, weight lifting.
MK: It was just you guys in volleyball?
CKC: I’m trying to think if anybody else went down, but yeah I think it was just us.
MK: Have you competed in any other international volleyball competitions?
CKC: The World Masters Games indoors. The Outrigger went to Brisbane, Australia. We played in that back in the … must of been in the … maybe the ’80s. We took our team down there. We took second to the Russians. The Russians flew in, they were an ex-Olympic team. And some wealthy guy got a jet and flew them all down there and then they basically kicked our ass. Badly, in the finals.
MK: Who was on that team?
CKC: Charlie, Jon, Randy, Mike Cote, Tom Madison.
MK: You served on or chaired the Volleyball Committee for many years. What does the committee actually do?
CKC: Well from small things like getting all the equipment for the beach. Organizing, getting gym time. Finding coaches. Organizing the budget. Filling out POs is one of the big responsibilities and making sure our money is spent … well spent. Those are … taking care of people.
MK: Big job.
CKC: No, I wouldn’t say a big job. Well you just have to be available when you’re needed.
MK: Well we had lots of winning teams during those years, when you were either the chair or a member of the committee. Nowadays, a lot of the younger players go straight from college into pro volleyball. You said you played pro ball for one year in LA. You didn’t go to any of the other national international tournaments or anything?
CKC: No, I was invited to try out for the USA team one year. The training was in Ohio, and I didn’t like the coach. I had a poor attitude. And they weren’t paying you anything, well they’re paying you 400 bucks a month to go to Ohio and train. And I had a family, and just… USA wasn’t qualifying for any of the Olympics. Hadn’t qualified for the Olympics, it was a pretty strict qualification procedure and the US was out of the picture so I just didn’t do it.
MK: Well how’s your body holding up after all these years of playing volleyball?
CKC: It’s pretty good. I have my aches and pains but I look at some of my other partners, they may not be around or they’re struggling or … I think part of it is, I’ve taken pretty good care of myself.
MK: That helps. What do you like best about playing volleyball?
CKC: You’re in the moment. You’re not worried about what happened yesterday, what’s gonna happen tomorrow. Being in the moment’s one of the keys to having some enjoyment in life I think.
MK: Do you have any other volleyball stories that you would like to tell us?
CKC: Probably the most exciting time was when Tom Selleck was on our team. And he played with us for a couple, two or three years, and wherever we went, we’d have these giant crowds following us around. And he wasn’t being set by our setter Tom Madison, so he’d go up to Tom and he’d bribe him and say “If you set me, I’ll do this for you.” And then after our match, people would be chasing after us, and Tom Madison would take a towel and throw it at the crowd and say “This is Tom Selleck’s towel.” So it was fun.
MK: Did you go to the nationals with him?
CKC: Yes, we won, I won a couple of nationals with him as well. And he became the honorary captain of the USA volleyball team. Olympic team. So in the Weight Room, I see his picture up there where we have our Olympians. And I’m not so sure it should be up there.
MK: That’s interesting, he’s listed on the Olympic website.
CKC: Sorry Tom.
MK: They list him as the honorary captain for three or four Olympics.
CKC: I know they do.
MK: Yeah, interesting.
CKC: I’m saying, come on.
MK: Well let’s move onto canoe racing. I don’t recall you competing until the 1990s. Did you race in the earlier years?
CKC: I actually did. When I was around twenty, Keanuenue Rochlen she was probably forty, twenty years older than me. And it was … there was surf out in the water, and I loved being in the canoe, and she says “Hey, how would you like to learn how to canoe surf?” I said “I’d love to.” So we jumped in the surfing canoe, went out there. And she sat in the first seat stroking. I sat in the back, steering. I’ve never steered before. And we were taking off on three, four foot waves, and just getting pummeled and she would just … she’d say … and she wouldn’t say much, it was just learn by feel. And that’s how I learned to steer. And I actually steered the Novice A and B in one of the … in the state regattas when I was in my early 20s. I think we came in third and got a medal. And then I had long period where I didn’t … I just paddled on my own and would go canoe surfing. And didn’t race in the regatta. And I started up when I think I met my wife, my current wife, Paula, who was just very into paddling. And that’s when I started my racing career really.
MK: What crews did you paddle on?
CKC: Thirty-fives, all the way up to seventies.
MK: Did you win any state championships?
CKC: Yep. Won a bunch of state championships. I actually won two in one year. I won a 60s and 65s in the same year. So that was a highlight. I think my wife did the same thing, I wasn’t able to go home and be the king for the day, it was like she did the same thing.
MK: The Crabbs took lots of medals home every year.
CKC: I don’t know if you know her, it’s in there, I didn’t look closely enough, but we took a team down to the World Sprints. And we won the World Sprint Championship last year in Australia.
MK: Last year?
CKC: Mm-hmm (affirmative), the 70s. Bill Johnson, Bill Mowat. Ron Oakley, yeah.
MK: That’s cool. You seem to have been going to Australia a number of times.
CKC: Yeah, yeah.
MK: Outrigger likes the association. What seat did you usually sit?
CKC: I’m usually the steersman, but I sat five, for most of my early career. Five seat. Because Tommy Conner was there to steer and he’s a legend, and Aka Hemmings was there to steer. So I was always sitting in five, and of course when they both left paddling or passed away then-
MK: It opened up.
CKC: If you live long enough, you can get any position.
MK: Are any of the regattas more memorable than others?
CKC: I enjoyed the ones on the windward side Waimanalo and Kailua. Just the water’s rougher. Just not a flat race. So you had to be a little skilled to maneuver your way through that crosswind and cross chop.
MK: And you’re paddling parallel to shore, rather than in and out. Yeah that’s a whole different game.
MK: Gives the windward teams an advantage, because they practice that way.
MK: And I think by afternoon the wind is always so strong at Kailua especially, yeah. You paddled distance as well. How many Molokai races did you do?
CKC: I’m guessing twenty-ish, give or take a few.
MK: How many for Outrigger?
CKC: Maybe five maybe.
MK: And who did you do the others with?
CKC: With a combination of Outrigger guys and Waimanalo and Hui Nalu. Putting together a team of twelve paddlers, there’s just not enough older paddlers from the Outrigger, so we usually join forces with other groups.
MK: This was the 60s and 65s and now the 70s yeah. Did you win any races with any of them?
CKC: I think we won … I won the 55s, 60s, and 65s. In our division.
MK: Can you relate any good stories about Molokai races?
CKC: One of them we were coming around, just coming around Diamond Head, and there was a pretty good set coming and there were three canoes going side by side, and I don’t know, two of us made it through and the other one went over the falls. So that’s something that I remember. But the conditions, every one of them the conditions were unique.
MK: Did you see any whales or porpoises or sharks or anything on any in those races?
CKC: One animal you see a lot of is the flying fish. And big ones. And soon as you take off from the island, they’ll … they’re like a big fleet of planes coming at you. So I saw a lot of those. But whales, once in a while. porpoises, once in a while. Lots of turtles.
MK: But not sharks?
CKC: I haven’t seen any sharks. I’ve seen them training. But I haven’t seen them during a race.
MK: Now you also paddled one mans. Did you do kayaks or surf skis before that?
MK: Just one mans? Have you done the Molokai in a one man?
CKC: Yes, probably about ten times maybe.
MK: How did you finish in those?
CKC: I won maybe one or two in my division.
MK: What’s the difference between doing a one man and a six man in the Molokai channel?
CKC: I think the one man you can surf more and the canoe fits into the wave better. So you’re actually surfing a wave, whereas a six man, it’s so long, that one part of the canoe is always in the trough, and the other part is in the crest. For us at our age, we could never quite go fast enough to really do some good surfing in a six man. Whereas a one man, you can go fast enough where you can drop into the waves and surf.
MK: And that’s fun I’m sure.
CKC: Yeah and I don’t know if … looking through your notes, there is one quick story I’ll tell you about my wife. So we did the relay together, the one man relay one year together. And I’m trying to remember who was … it might’ve been Scott Rolles. He might’ve been our escort. Anyway, my wife at the time was slower than I was. I could paddle faster than her. But she said to me “I want to go forty minutes, and Chris, you do twenty minutes.” And I’m thinking “Well, you’re going forty minutes, I’m doing twenty, but I’m the faster paddler.” So anyway, we get in the water, I paddle along, twenty minutes I get out, she gets in. So here comes twenty minutes, I jump into the ocean because I figure we’ll do twenty, twenty, twenty, twenty. She comes up to me and goes right around me and leaves me in the middle of the channel.
So she goes by me. And I’m in the deep blue water. So the escort boat has to come back and pick me up. And so I just jump in the escort boat and I said “What’s she doing?” So anyway, forty minutes now go by. I jump in the water again, she comes up to me, I jump in, so now, I’m going along, twenty minutes come by, she jumps in the water. I go right around her. So we got it straightened out. We started to go twenty-twenty after that. But Scott Rolles or whoever was in the escort boat and he says “Don’t talk … don’t let me get in the middle of this thing, I’m not gonna touch this thing.” So we took second I think in our mixed division, but still to this day I can’t figure out what her strategy was.
MK: I’m sure she had one. So how long … you’re still doing one mans?
CKC: Not racing, just exercise.
MK: Just for fun.
CKC: Well I wouldn’t say for fun, but for exercise.
MK: Where do you go now?
CKC: When the wind’s blowing we’ll do the Hawaii Kai run. From Hawaii Kai to the Outrigger. If the trades are blowing.
MK: You do it with the afternoon group that goes out there?
CKC: No, I do it in the morning. With a couple of friends in the morning. I like paddling in the morning.
MK: So somebody drops you off out there and you finish here?
CKC: Or we do a shuttle, yeah.
MK: Oh, that’s good. In 1997, you were elected to the Winged “O” which is for the top athletes at the Outrigger. How does it feel to be in the rarefied company of Duke Kahanamoku and Dad Center?
CKC: I haven’t figured that one out yet. I don’t know if I feel like I’m deserving or I’m just … I don’t look at it like that. I don’t look … I respect them I think they belong. I’m not sure if I do.
MK: Well it means that they respect your abilities and your success.
CKC: Yeah, that’s nice that they do that.
MK: Yeah. What do you think your greatest contributions have been to the Club?
CKC: I just think I’ve been steady and been available to help where I can. I think probably … coaching. Right now I’m coaching a group. Some of them are Outrigger members, but it’s not an Outrigger team. I think coaching, I see some of my players that I’ve coached. I just ran into one in New York last week. That’s probably been my biggest contribution. Even coaching adults. As an athlete, you’re almost selfish. A lot of the times, you’re playing for yourself, you get a big ego. Whereas coaching,.. you’ve got to get rid of your ego and try to just be helpful and help kids grow and grow the game.
MK: Who are some of the kids that you’ve coached that have gone on to good things?
CKC: Well the one I ran in to the other day in New York. Dom Griffin. He’s an architect in New York City. Still comes to the AVP games with his wife, little boy and she’s pregnant, but he takes the time to come and watch.
MK: Nice to see success stories.
CKC: Yeah. And it doesn’t have to be the field of athletics. As long as … can be anything. Their job, their family life, athletics.
MK: That’s wonderful. What do you think’s going to happen to the athletic program at the Outrigger in the next five to ten years?
CKC: Well it seems that … with paddling, there’s a new strategy going on right now, with paddling, and the youth movement. And maybe that’s the model for what’s going to happen in the future, where you bring in the best from all over and train them. Everybody wants to be successful and … it seems to be going on. They’re doing it in the right way I guess. Volleyball, I don’t know if Alan Lau (Volleyball Committee Chairman) leaves, I don’t know what’s going to happen. He’s a big part of the . . .
MK: Yeah, he’s been holding it together for the last number of years.
CKC: He has. And I support him, and I help him in anyway I can. On the side, I’ll help him out.
MK: He’ll probably stay involved until his son graduates.
CKC: Well that’s next year.
MK: Are you into surfing?
CKC: I don’t surf anymore because of my knees and my back and I haven’t surfed in a couple of years. I entered the canoe surfing contest last year. And I didn’t this year. I wasn’t here.
MK: Am I missing any sports that you’ve competed in at the Outrigger?
CKC: Oh, I played a little tennis. I played a little softball for the Outrigger when they had a team. I think that’s it.
MK: You’re not a golfer?
CKC: I am. I’m playing golf now, yeah, but I don’t participate in any of the Outrigger tournaments.
MK: Just on your own?
MK: Let’s talk a little bit about your family. Your first wife was Jane Montz and you had two children with her?
MK: Tracy and Kevin. Can you tell me a little bit about them?
CKC: Well my daughter was multiply handicapped. And she passed away when she was thirteen. And that occupied thirteen years, where she needed twenty-four/seven care. I was away from sports a little bit at that time. Didn’t play as much volleyball. Probably why I didn’t paddle. That took up a lot of our time. Anyway, and then Kevin, he’s been a member here. And he enjoys playing volleyball.
MK: You won a Club doubles championship with him?
CKC: I don’t think so.
CKC: Maybe a third. We’d take a third.
MK: Oh a third.
CKC: I don’t think I won with him.
CKC: I think we entered and took third, or second. We didn’t win.
MK: How old is he now?
CKC: I think he’s thirty-eight, going to be thirty-nine next month.
MK: That’s hard to believe isn’t it?
MK: What’s he doing?
CKC: He does a little day trading, he’s involved in his church, he works out here.
MK: Is he married?
CKC: Not married, lives in Pualei Circle.
MK: No grandchildren then?
CKC: He’s close by. No grandchildren.
MK: Okay. And now with your second wife Paula (Carbone Crabb), and she’s also a Winged “O”, you have two sons.
MK: Taylor and Trevor. Can you tell me a little bit about them?
CKC: Well they both graduated from Punahou. Both went to Long Beach State. Both graduated from Long Beach State. And then they’ve started playing beach volleyball together. And their personalities are very different, so it didn’t last too long. Lasted a year or a year and a half. And they split up a year and a half ago. Both have found nice new partners. And they still live together in Redondo Beach. They train in Redondo Beach. They train with the USA beach team. That’s the overall beach coach is Sean Scott. And he’s an Outrigger member. They both love playing on the AVP. They’ve both done pretty well. Taylor’s won two championships on the AVP. Trevor just won two international events. Within the last two months, he won his first event in Switzerland, in Lausanne maybe two months ago. And he went to China about a month ago, and won an event in China.
They are traveling to … Trevor’s going to Czech Republic. Leaves on Sunday. And then he goes to Poland the following week and plays in Poland. And then Taylor is going to Seattle to play. And then Poland, Portugal, and then Switzerland. So they’re living the life.
MK: They are. How old are they now?
CKC: Twenty-six and twenty-eight.
MK: Did they play volleyball in high school?
CKC: Taylor played for Punahou, yes. They both played basketball as well.
MK: Oh, that was their main sport?
CKC: Trevor’s main sport was basketball. Taylor did both.
MK: And they both played at Long Beach State. Long Beach State’s had some really great teams. Were they on those teams?
CKC: They were on a real good team. And Taylor was NCAA Player of the Year. Probably around 2014 maybe.
MK: Did they win the NCAA?
CKC: No, they didn’t. They (Long Beach State) won it this year. This year they won the national championships.
MK: Well that’s pretty good to win the MVP and not win the national championship. What positions do they play?
CKC: They both play outside hitter.
MK: That’s hard when you’re playing with each other. To have be playing the same position. Do they play pro volleyball, the six man in Europe?
CKC: Taylor did. Played in France for a year.
MK: That wasn’t their thing?
CKC: Yeah. It wasn’t. I went and visited him. It wasn’t their thing.
MK: Do they have daytime jobs or do they just play volleyball? They have sponsors?
CKC: They have sponsors. So they get their earnings, half of them probably from winnings and the other half from sponsorships.
MK: Who are their sponsors?
CKC: Oakley, Lululemon, those would be the one’s people would know, be familiar with.
MK: So mom and dad aren’t still supporting them?
CKC: Well when I checked my cell bill, I am. Or my insurance bills, I think I’m still covering insurance. And cell phone plans. But other than that, well maybe a few medical plans as well.
MK: But neither one is them is married either?
MK: So they’re enjoying the pro life for now.
CKC: Yeah, they are.
MK: Can you make enough of a living to support yourself?
CKC: Yeah, they’re doing all right. They’re doing all right.
MK: That’s wonderful. You’ve played volleyball and paddled for the Club. You’ve raised your children here. And you’ve been involved in giving back by serving on committees, you have a lot of perspective on how things work around here. Do you think the Club’s on the right track athletically?
CKC: It’s hard to say. I didn’t look at your thing, questions, so it would be something that I would really like to think about and spend some time thinking about before I answer that.
MK: Well before we wrap this up, is there anything you’d like to add that we haven’t covered?
CKC: Nope. We’ve been pretty thorough about it.
MK: Could you share one of your favorite memories about the Club?
CKC: Well I think … I think the one I’ve already shared about Keanuenue is something that stands out in my mind is just some lady … actually she was my mixed doubles (volleyball) partner, Kane-Wahine partner. Keanuenue and I would play every year. We won a number of mixed doubles championships. And one of them, actually one of them now that I’m thinking about it was, we were playing Jon Stanley, and Linda Fernandez and we were down fourteen maybe eight, I don’t know, I can’t remember. But it was back then where you had to score a point by serving. And we just clawed our way back and we ended up winning 16-14, and that was the championship game. And we won that tournament, and she was twenty years older than me. I just put her over in the corner. And she’s just a great lady that we got along so well together.
And then, from that, when we were playing together, she would say “Hey, learn how to canoe surf. I’ll take you out.” So if you can imagine a forty-year-old lady taking a twenty-year old guy out to canoe surfing, pretty good sized waves, where she’s paddling in number one seat, and I’m steering for the first time, and we’re just getting our lumps. And I finally figured it out, after the tenth wave, so those are my fondest … one of my fondest memories.
MK: Wow, she wasn’t just a forty-year old lady. She was a fabulous athlete. And she steered crews for us up until her eighties. She was just amazing.
MK: And she surfed, and swam, and all of those good things. She was a remarkable woman. So you got taught by the best.
CKC: Yes, very fortunate.
MK: I have one last question for you. You’ve been an Outrigger member for fifty plus years, what has the Club meant to you?
CKC: Well, it means everything to me. Being able to come down to a place where you’re comfortable and good friends, great setting. I mean you can come down and sit at the Snack Bar, and look out at the water, and people don’t realize from other places, how fortunate we are. And every once in a while when I’ll bring somebody here and they’ll go out there and sit and look, I mean they just … they can’t believe the setting that we have here. And the people, and the activity, and family.
MK: It’s a perfect place.
CKC: Yeah, it is. We live in a utopia. It’s just unbelievable.
MK: Well Chris, thank you very much for sharing with us today. This is going to be a great addition to our archives.
CKC: Thanks for coming after me. Appreciate it.
Service to the Outrigger Canoe Club
1990 Boys 12 (2nd Place)
1994 Boys 14 (1st Place)
1995 Boys 16
2009 Boys 17 (5th Place)
2010 Boys 18 (2nd Place)
AAU National Volleyball Championships
1974 2nd, Men’s AA
1975 1st, Men’s AA
1977 2nd, Masters
USA Volleyball National Championships
1967 5th, Men’s Open
1969 5th, Men’s Open
1970 7th, Men’s Open
1971 9th, Men’s Open
1972 ?, Men’s AA
1973 4th, Men Open
1974 3rd, Men’s AA, All-American Honorable Mention
1975 5th, Men’s AA
1982 1st, Masters 35
1983 1st, Masters 35, 2nd Team All-American
1984 1st, Masters 35, 1st Team All-American
1985 2nd, Masters 35, Most Valuable Player
1986 1st, Masters 35, 1st Team All-American
1987 4th, Masters 35, 1st Team All-American
1988 1st, Masters 35, Most Valuable Player, 1st Team All-American
1889 2nd, Masters 35, 1st Team All-American
1990 2nd, Masters 35, 1st Team All-American
1991 1st, Masters 35, 1st Team All-American
1991 2st, Masters 40, 2nd Team All-American
1992 1st, Masters 35
1993 1st, Masters 35
1993 1st, Masters 40
1994 1st, Masters 35, 1st Team All-American
1994 1st, Masters 40, 1st Team All American
1995 2nd, Masters 35
1996 2nd, Masters 40, 2nd Team All-American
1997 3rd, Masters 45, 1st Team All-American
1998 2nd, Masters 40, Most Valuable Player
1999 1st, Masters 50, 1st Team All American
2000 1st, Masters 50, 1st Team All-American
2001 4th, Masters 50
2002 1st, Masters 50
2004, 1st, Masters 50 Silver Division
2005 2nd, Masters 45
2006 2nd, Masters 45
Daddy Haine Volleyball Tournament
1999 1st Place team
2003 1st Place team
2008 1st Place team
Club Doubles Championships
1968 1st with Chris McLachlin
1975 1st with Jack Hinds
1999 3rd with Kevin Crabb
Kane-Wahine Doubles Tournament
1971 1st with Keanuenue Rochlen
Outrigger Canoe Club 4-Man Sand Tournament
1968 1st with Chris McLachlin, Drew Flanders, Tony Crabb
Duke Kahanamoku State Sand Volleyball Doubles Championship
1975 1st with Charlie Jenkins
1985 2nd with Randy Shaw
1989 3rd with Jim Cavanah
World Masters Games Beach Doubles Volleyball
2017 1st Masters 70 with Wayne Kekina
2017 2nd Masters 65 with Wayne Kekina
Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association Championships
1998 Masters 45
2009 Masters 45
2013 Masters 60
2014 Masters 60
2014 Masters 65
Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association Championships
1987 Men Open 4
1997 Senior Masters
2006 Masters 55
2007 Masters 55
1999 6th Masters 45
2001 4th Masters 45
2002 5th Masters 45
2007 Masters 40 (not OCC)
2009 Masters 55 (not OCC)
Macfarlane Regatta Championships
1984 Junior Men
1998 Masters 45
2006 Masters 55
2011 Masters 60
2016 Masters 65
2016 Masters 70, OC6, 2 golds, 2 silvers with Ron Hochuli, Bill Johnson and Billy Mowat
Kanaka Ikaika Oahu Championships
2001 2nd, OC1 Men 50+
1997 1st Mixed with Mary Smolenski
Kaiwi Channel Relay
2000 3rd 50+ with Chris McKenzie
2001 3rd Masters with Hank Leandro
2002 3rd Men 50+ with Jeff Metzger
2003 4th Masters 50 with Paul Gay
2004 with Doug Bechert
2005 with Peter Balding Jr.
2006 2nd Mixed with Paula Crabb
Club Tennis Championship
1986 1st, OCC Mixed Doubles with Mary Fern