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
October 6, 2017
MK: Today is Friday October 6th, 2017 and we’re in the Board Room at the Outrigger Canoe Club. I am Marilyn Kali (MK), 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 Tiare-
MK: Richert Finney (TRF) thank you who’s been a Club member for 40 years. Good morning Tiare and thank you for doing this.
TRF: Good morning, it’s my honor.
MK: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family when and where you were born and where you grew up.
TRF: Sure, I’m a local girl born and raised. Born at Queen’s Hospital and raised in Nuuanu and live on Dowsett in my family home. My husband John and I bought the property from my parents years ago and we’ve lived there for … we moved into the house in about 1992 and it had been in my parents’ home for years and years.
MK: Now your dad was a physician?
TRF: He was, he was a general practitioner, an old fashioned doctor who would carry his bag and came to your house to see you when you were ill, made house calls. He and my mom when they first came to Hawaii in the ‘30s, they lived on Kauai and he was a plantation doctor. They lived in Kapaa.
MK: Tell me a little bit about his hobby of shell collecting.
TRF: He was an avid scuba diver and he went on a lot of escapades and he was friends with Jacques Cousteau and they used to travel throughout the Pacific and he would go as the ship’s doctor, but he also was a Malacologist. So he studied shells and gathered shells and at the time of his passing, he had the largest personally collected shell collection in the world. So we have a lot of shells in our house still.
MK: So you have his collection.
TRF: I do. After his passing I split his collection into thirds. We sent a third of his shells to the Big Island for the children of Hawaii and it’s like a traveling show, goes from location to location and another third went back to Mission Beach to a museum there which is where he was raised in Mission Beach, California.
MK: Wow, and then you have the rest.
TRF: Yes, we have the rest.
MK: Amazing. Now tell us a little bit about your mom.
TRF: Well, she was wild and wonderful. When she was younger … she came from Monrovia California. Her mom and dad … well her dad was the mayor of Monrovia and a judge and she was raised kind of … well they had a beautiful big home but in those days, there wasn’t much around in Monrovia and they had the Sunkist orange trees, the fields there. And she rode horses with her brothers and she became interested in … she wanted a boat. She thought she needed a boat. So she told her dad she needed a boat and he bought a boat from a catalo and when it got there, it turned out that it was a racing hull, a racing boat, like an outboard boat.
So they bought an engine and she started driving and that morphed into her becoming a racer and becoming a very famous racer and becoming a very dominant winner and represented the U.S. and went to Italy. And she actually came to Hawaii and raced and raced in Honolulu Harbor and met Duke Kahanamoku and the legend goes on but then she married and she had her family and she was a doctor’s wife. And for her 50th birthday, my dad bought her a Triumph car and she started racing that car. And then she needed a faster car and a bigger car and more horsepower.
When I was in my teen years, she was racing a Porsche Spyder and beating all the men and she was back at it. So she was always interested in speed. Always wanted to go fast.
MK: That’s why she had the nickname of Speedboat Queen.
TRF: She was the Speedboat Queen, exactly.
MK: And she was quite a pioneer and-
TRF: She was, she was quite a pioneer.
MK: Did she compete against men or women?
TRF: Always against the men. Always against the men and you know when she raced on Lake Como in Italy, she won the Carlo Rossi Trophy and that is a trophy that I’ve donated to the Outrigger Canoe Club in honor of my mom and my dad for the Dad Center Race. So every year when the girls, the first to finish get to put their names on my mom’s Carlo Rossi Trophy.
MK: I think that’s wonderful and-
TRF: Well she’d be very proud.
MK: I’m sure she would. This year at the race, you sang a song.
TRF: That was Kawika’s (Grant) idea.
MK: Well it was so great I just got the biggest kick out of it.
TRF: It was really cute, wasn’t it?
MK: Just give us the first few notes of it.
TRF: It was like anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you, right?
MK: Yes you can.
TRF: Yes you can and that was for the girls, that was for the girls. I wanted them to know how proud I was of them to get those Outrigger (Canoe Club) names back on that trophy after a very long, a long spell.
MK: It has been.
MK: The Historical Committee has a picture in the archives of your mom with Duke Kahanamoku in 1935 at a speedboat race.
TRF: Yep, she was just a young girl. My grandparents used to motor from California to Honolulu. They had a 110-foot motor yacht and they used to load the race boats on the back and they would bring my mom to Hawaii from California and she would compete in speedboat racing. I mean those were the days. Huh?
MK: Yeah, exactly.
TRF: Exactly. What a life.
MK: Did they have enough gas to get there. I mean that must have been loaded with fuel-
TRF: Diesel, yeah. I think if my memory serves me right, my mom said it was about a ten-day trip.
MK: How much of a role model has your mom been to you?
TRF: You know I’m blessed. I had amazing parents, the best parents. My dad was just an amazing guy, he could do anything. He could build the barn or plant the garden and fix the broken bones and he was wonderful. He taught me to scuba dive when I was only about seven years old and he made me my own diving tank out of an oxygen tank and we used to spend a lot of time on the bottom together. And my mom was wonderful, you know she was an artist, she did all kinds of things. She was a great hostess, she was a wonderful cook. We had sit down dinners every night at the house and it was just a wonderful. I wish I could have been … could be in my life as good as my mom and dad were in their lives. As I said, I feel blessed to have had such great parents.
MK: How did they meet?
TRF: My mom and dad? Gosh, I think my dad was friends with her brothers and he was tinkering with the outboard motor boat engines because her brothers were racing a little bit also but they weren’t as successful as she was. And I think my mother got her eye on my dad in those days.
MK: Now you have two brothers.
TRF: I do, I have two older brothers. Mark is ten years my senior, he lives in La Jolla, California and he’s retired. And then Lance is seven years older than I am and he’s married and lives on Maui, and he’s retired too.
MK: Are they members of the Club?
TRF: No, they are not, never were. No, and my parents were never members here either and I was kind of a late joiner myself. I didn’t join the Outrigger until I was about twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old, but all my friends were members and it was always kind of a cute story that I tell it when I came to my membership meeting that the people that were sitting around the table all looked at me in shock and, “Aren’t you like already a member?” I was like, “No, no, no, not a member yet.”
MK: Are your brothers responsible for turning you into a tomboy or was it your mom?
TRF: You know I don’t think I’m much of a tomboy. I’m kind of … well I was always a kind of a dress up girl. I modeled a lot. When I was little I started modeling and so I always had really neat clothes to wear and my mother dressed me up and we’d go to church and I’d wear little white gloves and a frilly dress and a little hat, Easter time you know and I was a little ballerina and I don’t know. But I was rough and ready. I mean I grew up in Nuuanu and my pack that I sort of ran with, with our bicycles, the neighborhood gang, it was all boys, there were no girls. And I had those two brothers that were substantially older than me that did a fair amount of picking on me. So I had to be tough.
MK: Made you tough.
TRF: I had to be tough, I had to be tough and I was Daddy’s girl. Daddy taught me shoot the bow and arrow, throw the Tomahawk. I mean you know.
MK: All those great steps to-
TRF: Learn how to do a little bit everything absolutely.
MK: Where did you go to high school?
TRF: I went to Punahou.
MK: What class?
TRF: 1968, the best class ever.
MK: There are a lot of members who were in that class.
TRF: There are a lot of members and we have a core group that have always remained close friends. There’s about twenty of us or thirty of us that are really good close friends still and I hate to admit this but fifty years is coming up, class reunion.
MK: Who was in your class that are members?
TRF: Oh Mary Fern, Devon Guard, Suzy Hemmings, Brant Ackerman, Rocky Higgins. I don’t think he’s an Outrigger member but he’s a Hui Nalu guy involved in paddling. Oh my gosh I know I’m missing some but there’s quite a few of us. Larry Langley, I believe he’s an Outrigger member.
MK: Well in his oral history, Brant Ackerman talks about how when his wife started going to Punahou, the first thing he did was take her over to meet you because you were one of the “in-girls” and he wanted her to be in the “in-girls”.
TRF: Yeah, Stephanie is a very close and old friend. You know that Brant Ackerman singularly I have known him longer than anybody else. He has been a friend of mine since we were at Frear Hall which was kindergarten for Punahou and he was a Shriner’s kid and he was in my class. So I have known Brant since we were four or maybe five years old and I have always loved him. He’s one of my best buddies. We ride motorcycles together, so that’s a bonding thing.
MK: Did you participate in sports in high school?
TRF: Oh yeah, I ran track. I was on the diving team. I was on the swimming team. Back in the day we used to do like synchronized swim which was kind of interesting. I did a little bit of gymnastics, trampoline and balance beam and stuff like that. So yeah I was pretty busy.
MK: You were cheerleader also?
TRF: No, I was not a cheerleader.
MK: You were not a cheerleader.
TRF: Everybody always says that. No, I was a ROTC sponsor which I thought was very cool. It was a thing that the boys voted on and they would ask a girl to represent a group or a platoon I guess when they did the ROTC. You were the girl with the captains out front that you marched in and marched out and then you’d have to review the troops and look at everybody’s wrinkly ROTC uniforms and Brant Ackerman’s tarnished brass bars or tuck somebody’s hair up underneath their hats so the captain wouldn’t get in … so they wouldn’t get in trouble. So anyway, yeah but my friends were all like the cheerleader girls and it’s guilt by association.
MK: Where did you go to college?
TRF: I went to Centenary School, it was in New Jersey and people always kind of say that’s a weird choice, but I actually was pursuing a modeling career and I had an opportunity to work in New York. So I went to Centenary and I was too young and it was too soon for me to really get into the modeling thing. I thought I knew what I was doing but I was too young and it was too scary to be in New York, and they wanted me to live in an apartment and I couldn’t do it. I was too local girl. So I did my did my Centenary thing and then I came home.
MK: But you modeled here before you left?
TRF: Oh yeah, I started modeling when I was really little like four, five, years old and I used to work at the old Canlis Restaurant and worked at the Halekulani a lot and did the Sunday fashion shows and it was great. I mean was wonderful and then I worked all through my teen years and when I got into my early twenties, things started to go really well and I did a lot of television commercials. I was the Sea and Ski girl and I worked in Europe and did television commercials in Europe and it was a great life. I mean they’d fly you to Vienna or I go to the Seychelles and do photo shoots and stuff like that. It was great, it was very nice.
MK: Well is it true that you were also a cover girl on Playboy magazine?
TRF: Not Playboy, it was called Playgirl. It was called Playgirl and it was definitely clothes on, no clothes off. I’ve never done any nude photos or anything. It was kind of a takeoff on Playboy but it was sort of a health and wellness kind of magazine and yeah I was on the cover in a very small bathing suit, in a very small bathing suit but a bathing suit.
MK: Well you also got involved being a stunt woman for Hawaii Five-0.
TRF: I did, I did. It came pretty easily because I had the aquatic training from my dad and I was pretty comfortable in the ocean and I worked as an extra for Five-O for quite a few years and then they needed someone to be like a dead body on the bottom. Seriously it was a scary shoot actually because they really did take me to the bottom and like tie me to a hollow tile brick and then someone would bring the regulator into the shot and I would take a couple of big breaths and then they’d move off out of camera and then I would be … lay there being dead, being tied to the bottom, and it was kind of a scary thing to do but that’s okay. So whenever they needed a dead woman in the water, they would call me. So I did a couple of different dead people for Five-O.
MK: You’re so full of surprises.
TRF: Well it was it was okay.
MK: When did you start skateboarding?
TRF: I can’t believe you discovered that, I don’t know, who’s leaking these things. I did skate in the ‘60s. I have my original skateboard from Surfline Hawaii. I still have it at home and there was no such thing as a skate park in those days. You just skated around and one of my favorite places to skate was on a Sunday. In downtown Honolulu, there was a bank building that had a circular parking garage and you could drive several floors up and park your car and you could skate around and around and around and go all the way down to the bottom, and it was pretty fun. But yeah, we used to skate a lot but nothing like the kids do now. I mean you know I’m talking about it’s pretty much …. It’s just kind of on the pavement straight ahead kind of skating.
MK: All the tricks they do.
TRF: Oh my gosh, nothing like that. No air, only by mistake, you get air only by a mistake in those days.
MK: And when did you have time to take up skeet shooting?
TRF: Oh my dad taught me. He used to hunt birds and stuff and he taught me. He would hand throw the clays and we would shoot with our shotguns. It was just part of the all-around things that every girl ought to know how to do. I mean you need to know how to shoot a gun. He was a hunter, so it was sort of a natural thing.
MK: Well here’s another one. Is it true that you went dancing with Prince Philip before he married Princess Diana?
TRF: Actually Prince Charles.
MK: Prince Charles.
TRF: Yeah, Philip was his dad. Prince Charles, yes. We met at a cocktail reception given in his honor by the then admiral of the Pacific fleet and Charles was on a ship, a British ship that was in port and they thought it would be a nice thing for them to have a reception for him out at Ford Island and I guess that they decided that they needed to invite a couple of women. And so I got lucky enough to be invited to this party. And went to the party and there was a very nice reception line and of course we were told all the protocol, what you could do and what you couldn’t do and you don’t just reach forward and shake hands and you curtsey and you do the right thing and so we were schooled and knew what to do.
And part of the funny story is that I had bought this spectacular one-armed dress that I was going to wear and I had gone skeet shooting with my dad a couple of days before this reception, and the next morning when I woke up, I had a great big purple bruise on my shoulder from the kickback of the shotgun, and I was mortified. But my dress was kind of stretchy. So I just cut the tag out of it and I put it on backwards so I wore it on the other … the other shoulder was covered and no one ever knew the difference, but I had this great big bruise underneath my covered shoulder.
But yeah, we met in the reception line and he was obviously interested and so he, at his earliest convenience, broke away from the reception line and came over and offered if he could get me a drink which I accepted and then we chatted and we talked for a while. And then he goes, “Would you like to leave? You know would you like to go somewhere with me?” I said, “Sure I guess, I’m not sure,” and he had a bodyguard with him and he had shipmates with him and I had a girlfriend with me that I had invited to come along with me.
So we all piled into a big limousine and a couple of places that I had suggested that we go, the security people didn’t like. They said, “No, it’s too risky and that wasn’t a good spot.” They wanted a more open, more easily observed venue. So we ended up at the Hilton Hawaiian Village beach bar which was just a nightmare because as you can imagine within about twenty minutes there were a hundred people standing around gawking and wanting autographs or whatever and I actually felt kind of sorry for the guy. He was just a young man and he had a bad job. He was going to be the king.
So finally he just says, “Well, can’t we just go to your place?” I’m like, “Well, yeah I guess we could,” but at the time I was living at my parents’ home in the maid’s cottage that was attached to the garage. So it was probably about 250 square feet. And I also had a six-month old Doberman Pinscher puppy that was living in there with me but you know what, we went, we drove in the driveway in Nuuanu and my mom was so cute. It’s a pouring rain, it’s pouring and this limo drives in the driveway and my mom’s head comes poking out the back door and she yells out, “Did you meet him, did you meet him? Did you see him?” And Charles steps out of the car and he yells back to my mom. He’s, “Oh, yes mom and he’s charming.”
And she takes one look and she’s like, ‘Oh, my god, it’s Prince Charles,” and she scoots back in the back door and then in about five minutes, the little trays of cookies and things begin appearing at the door. She’s sending treats and goodies over. It was wonderful, we had a wonderful time, he is a really nice guy. You know he took his shoes off and jumped up on the punee and the dog jumped all over him and we talked and it was nice and he was charming and the other people that were with him also were charming and it was lovely.
MK: Did you ever see him again?
TRF: No, I never did see him again but he did write to me a couple of times. So I have some lovely letter, it was very nice yeah.
MK: Well let’s talk about your career. You got into designing macramé.
TRF: Oh yeah well, the hook in there is the shells and the shell collecting. And my mom used to do a lot of beautiful shell artwork. She would make murals with real shells or she would sew together shells and make flowers out of shells and they were beautiful and so I started kind of at her knee doing a few things with shells as well and I discovered that if I mix the macramé and fibers with the sea shells that I could make these beautiful necklaces and for quite a few years I made these beautiful shell macramé necklaces and I had some really fancy clients.
I made necklaces for Cher and I made necklaces for some local artists that they used. There’s a Pegge Hopper hanging in the Waialae Country Club to this day that has one of my shell necklaces hanging on the front of the painting. Peggy painted the painting and then I made the shell macramé necklace and we put the macramé necklace on to the Hawaiian lady that Pegge painted. It’s very clever, it was really good.
MK: I’ll have to look next time I go down there.
TRF: Yeah, check it out the next time you see it.
MK: How fun, how long did you do that?
TRF: For a couple of years, I did macramé and then I kind of got into weaving more and I started doing heavier bigger things. I started weaving with ropes, big ropes and I had a friend that worked at the Kapaa Dump and he was the bulldozer operator and he would push all the old ropes to the side for me and then about once a month, I’d go over there and dig through this pile of all the old ropes and hawser and I also had a friend that worked at the shipyard that would save old ropes for me. I would bring them home and lay them out in the garage and clean them and put them into color categories and then I would build a big wooden frame and then I would weave with them.
The Hale Koa Hotel bought one of my weavings and it took about eight guys and a flatbed truck to get that thing on … I mean it weighed over a thousand pounds. And my dad helped me and we rigged up pulleys in the garage and we hooked it up, the frame of it up into the garage and then I wove the ropes in and then when it was finished, we called the flatbed truck and the men and it hung in the bar at the Hale Koa for twenty years. I don’t know if it’s still there.
MK: How wonderful. You were called a creative weaver, what does that mean?
TRF: I don’t know. I did some free standing stuff as well. I just used to do 3D rope sculptures and some of them were as tall as me but they were just made out of you know different kinds of ropes. I don’t know just weird stuff. I mean it was the ‘70s. You could get away with that kind of … it was art.
MK: Are you still doing it?
TRF: No, every once in a while I see something that I go, “Oh you know, that would be a pretty neat –“ I do art projects yeah, I still do. I’m the girl on the beach that’s picking up all the pieces of driftwood. I still like that kind of stuff.
MK: Well let’s talk about the ocean for a little bit. How old were you when your folks started taking you diving?
TRF: I was about seven when I first learned to scuba, but I mean I’ve been in the water forever. I learned to swim at the old Kailua Racquet Club. My parents were members over there. My dad put a line between two coconuts and I would put my arms over the line and he’d put me in the water and I would … the coconuts were like my floatees. And that’s how I learned to swim with the two coconuts and the more you go in the water, the more water logged the coconuts get so the more and more you actually have to swim and pretty soon, you’re swimming without your coconuts.
MK: Well when did you start scuba diving then?
TRF: Oh when I was about seven.
MK: Seven, weren’t the tanks to heavy?
TRF: No, because my dad made me a special one and he used an old oxygen tank and he retrofitted it and put a regulator on it and I had a little mini tank. My dad I actually made the cover of Divers Magazine. I was the dainty diving daughter.
MK: What did you like about diving?
TRF: Oh well gosh. A lot of things. I like the lobsters you can get. We had a beach house in Laie and we used to dive. My dad and I would go out and we would get lobsters and I loved going with him when he was looking for shells and we had salt water aquariums. So we were always gathering a little bit of this and a little bit of that and we had a great big bank of really big salt water aquariums. So we had eels and crabs and we raised sea horses and we had all kinds of goodies go in. Yeah it was a lot of fun, a lot of work though, salt water aquariums.
MK: Were your brothers interested in that too or is it just you?
TRF: Sure it was always a family thing. The boys were more into cars but that was-
MK: Did you surf?
TRF: Yeah, always did a little surfing. Mostly my heart lies in the boogie board. I loved to boogie board and used to boogie board a lot and was friends with Gerry Lopez and we used to go together to Ala Moana Bowl and I’d use him as my … he’d go and let me go in front of him, but I’d use him as my blocker. But we used to surf a lot, yeah. Surf a lot but I’m more of a boogie boarder than a board surfer.
MK: You joined Outrigger in February 1977.
MK: Do you remember who your sponsor was?
TRF: I don’t, I don’t at all. But I do remember that my mother encouraged me to join the Outrigger because she wanted me to find a husband. She goes, “You know you need a husband, so you better join the Outrigger, there’s a lot of nice guys down there.”
MK: How funny.
TRF: I know. I know and the person that she had in mind turned out to be one of my best friends and I never would have married him in a million years but he is a really great guy.
MK: We want to say who that was?
TRF: Oh sure, it was Steve Quinn. He was the Governor’s son and he was a handsome young man but he turned out to just be one of my best buddies. It was really funny.
MK: Poor mama, didn’t-
TRF: I know, yeah I know, she didn’t get that one right.
MK: The interest was your mother getting you interested in joining the Club?
TRF: Yeah, well plus the surf here is great and I knew so many Outrigger people and it was sort of a natural thing and I mean it’s life changing to become a member of the Outrigger. I mean really. I mean most kids come in when they’re like ten and they don’t realize really what a special, special place this is and for me to come when I was twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old. I mean it’s a real honor to be an Outrigger member and you really realize that when you come in as an adult. What a special gift it is to have a beautiful Club and the access to the water and to be right here in Waikiki. I mean it’s just-
MK: With parking.
TRF: Yeah with parking.
MK: Well you said that you hadn’t ever paddled a canoe until you joined the Outrigger.
TRF: No, I never had.
MK: Did you start out on the Novice crews?
TRF: Novice B, absolutely, Novice B.
MK: Well what did you like about canoe racing because you’ve been in it for so long?
TRF: I just loved it. Well I just loved it and it was just so wonderful. I love being on the water and I loved the camaraderie of the teams and what a rare opportunity to start as a Novice B paddler. And then have a successful regatta season and then for the first time ever, have women do a long distance and for the first time ever, have women do Molokai and to win the Molokai in the first year of your paddling, was just amazing and that first Molokai race was the most terrifying thing for me because most of the guys just said, “Oh, you guys will never make it. You’ll never make it.”
The women would, you just never make it across. I remember to this day, the way I felt that morning when I got in the canoe, I was in the starting, the starting six on the line, on Molokai, in the dark blue water, waiting for the gun to go off. And I could literally feel my heart beat in my face. I will never forget that, I haven’t had that feeling ever since then. I was so ready to race but I was also so terrified and anxious and ready for it to be going, ready for it to go.
MK: Well, you had done the Dad Center Race several weeks before that and you guys won gold then.
TRF: Right, we did.
MK: And you did water changes.
TRF: Yep, but-
MK: Didn’t prepare.
TRF: No, nothing prepares you for that first Molokai. It’s a big deal.
MK: The men had said the women couldn’t do Molokai because they couldn’t do water changes. In that first one, were the men in the water to help you get into the boat or did you guys do your own changes?
TRF: No, we did our own changes, we did our own changes.
MK: Because I remember there was lots of discussions-
TRF: Nowadays at sixty-seven, nowadays I’d love to have a guy in the water helping me get in the boat. It’s probably the only way I could get in these days.
MK: It’s very difficult as you said to go from being a novice to being in the Molokai crew and in the same year. A couple of the men have done it but not very many women? Why do you think you were able to do that?
TRF: Oh I think it would be much harder to do nowadays because the level of competition has risen so much. I mean we were pioneers. It was just a lucky time in my life and in the in the evolution of paddling, just happened to be like that. Paddling in the early days was just amongst local clubs. Now it’s international. When you paddle for the Outrigger, we only can draw from just our membership. Other crews and other teams from other places and other countries even, they draw from their whole population of their area. So it’s a lot more difficult and the fact that the Outrigger women are finishing in the top ten or winning like they did in Dad Center this year, is fantastic. I mean it’s really fantastic. So it just shows the level of the female expertise is getting higher and higher and higher. The athletes are getting more and more elite all the time.
MK: Well you’ve always been one of our stronger paddlers.
TRF: Well I hope so. I mean I’m still paddling. I still try my hardest. I’ve sort of learned to steer in the last couple of years. So now they have me steering and I hope, I still love it.
MK: Who taught you technique?
TRF: Oh my gosh, I’ve had so many coaches over the years. But I think that I would say probably Tom Conner. Who we now have lost. I would say Tom Conner was probably my most technical coach. Keone Downing gave us a lot of tips over the years. Aaron Young was a wonderful coach. I always listened to Walter (Guild) and I listened to Brant Ackerman and I listened for a lot of years, I used to go along on the whaler with the men’s practices just to kind of listen to what their coaches were saying to them. I think you can learn a lot about paddling if you just stay quiet and you listen. And nowadays we have so many other tools. They can video you because a lot of times what you feel that you’re doing is correct, when you see it on the film, you just are like, “Oh my God, that’s what I’m doing? I thought I was doing something completely different.” So there’s a lot more tools now. So it’s getting a lot more technical.
MK: Talk about water changes, is it really hard to get them?
TRF: You know there’s a technique and you have to learn the technique. But in my youth when I was strong and slim, I didn’t have any trouble with the water changes. If you love what you’re doing, you can just do it. And it takes a little bit of upper body strength but there’s definitely a technique and if you teach somebody properly how to do a water change, they can do it. But there’s variables. I mean the water moves, the canoe moves, there’s wind. The girls getting out might push themselves off the canoe which causes the whole of the canoe to push onto you and all of a sudden you find yourself underneath the whole of the canoe instead of next. I mean there’s all kinds of variables but in that moment, you do whatever it takes to get yourself in the canoe even if it means hooking your leg and pulling yourself in or sometimes there have been times when I’ve seen a teammate struggling and I actually sit up in my seat and grab a hold of her and pull her in.
And for that matter, I’ve had teammates in front of me when they’ve rolled out got hung up on the side of the boat by some of the canvas or something hooks on them and they’re being dragged along. You have to take that initiative that second and fix it. You have to be thinking.
MK: Have you ever encountered any sharks in your-?
TRF: Only once in a Molokai crossing and I will not forget it because it was Wayne Faulkner was driving the whaler and Katy Borne and I rolled out of the canoe and we were laying in the water because it was a very hot crossing. And Wayne came to the side of the boat and he looked over like that at us and he looked at me and he goes, “Tiare get in the boat.” And I looked at him and I went, “Oh, I just need a minute, it’s so hot.” And then he looks at me again he goes, “Get in the boat,” and I knew exactly what he meant and I go, “Katy, get in the boat,” and she knew exactly what I meant and we climbed up that ladder like little geckos, I got to tell you.
And when I got in the whaler, I turned and I looked in the water and I saw a gigantic shark and it was … I would say it was as big as the whaler. It was huge and it wasn’t doing anything aggressive, it was just cruising along but it was gigantic and we just like looked and I looked at Wayne and he looked at me.
I was like, “We got to get out of here.” Of course, we were on our way because we had to go … the canoe was gone already. So we had to follow but that was the only time. I saw small like basking sharks when we were paddling from Balboa to Catalina. The small, three or four foot sharks but they’re not doing anything. They’re just sitting on the surface of the water in that little warm section of water that floats but the minute you get around them, I mean they spook away but no, I’ve never had a shark issue paddling. You’re too busy doing other stuff. You’re too busy watching what you’re doing and looking at your timing and watching your crew and listening to your steersman and you don’t have time to think about sharks really. Not really.
MK: You’ve paddled with a core group of women for several decades.
TRF: That’s scary.
MK: I bet there have been some wonderful friendships that have developed over the years, who made up that core group?
TRF: Oh my gosh. Well I went back and I looked at my first Molokai team from ‘79 and there’s only three of us left. There’s Tracy Philips, Kaiulu Downing and Michele St John and me. We’re the last ones that are still actively paddling and in that group is Ann Hogan Perry who makes guest appearances once in a while during the regatta season or will steer occasionally but that’s it. We’ve lost a couple, a few of my teammates have died. And some have moved away but in that first group, of course I’m still really good friends with Suzy Hemmings, Suzy Johnston Hemmings, but she doesn’t paddle anymore. But Kaiulu and I are still actively paddling and Michele and I and Tracy.
MK: Tracy was on our first crew this year again.
TRF: Again, I know. She’s the Energizer Bunny. Just keeps on going.
TRF: Exactly. Yeah.
MK: You guys always seem to have so much fun together, tell me about some of your adventures.
TRF: I just would not even know where to start. We’ve had so many great adventures and most of the really fond memories of Molokai are in those first few years when the Outrigger was so dominant. And we would go over to Molokai a day earlier too. We’ve had some infamous skullduggery nights before the Molokai. There was a year that a couple of my teammates spent the night in the Kaunakakai Jail along with the coach. It involved a golf cart that was commandeered and they got in a lot of trouble for that. It was an innocent, it was innocent, but they did spend the night in jail for that. But not me, I wasn’t there, I brought the bail money the next morning. Exactly, I did, I brought the bail money.
MK: You let them stay all night?
TRF: They didn’t have bail money because in those days Molokai didn’t have bank machines. And so I got a call from the coach on Saturday morning, asking me if I could please go to the bank machine and bring cash so that he could bail my teammates out of Kaunakakai Jail. Is that good enough for you?
MK: Well there have been some others I know.
TRF: There have been others, but that one is that’s probably …
MK: That one you can tell?
TRF: That one I can tell.
MK: Were the other women as competitive as you were.
TRF: Oh gosh yes. Yeah I mean you’re not in it not to win it, so you have to do your homework.
MK: Well I had somebody tell me recently that Tommy Conner didn’t necessarily have to win, but he was not about to lose.
MK: So what’s the difference between?-
TRF: The difference is you do your absolute best. And you make as few mistakes as possible. And you think. You use your head, you don’t just blindly get out there and paddle without knowing where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, and be prepared for anything. And to use your thinking cap and to take care of your teammates because you are only as good as your weakest link. So if you see someone who’s struggling or someone who’s losing mental focus, that’s the person that needs the most attention. And I’ve always kind of had this adage, you know, when I coached kids, I always used to try to tell them, “If you think that you’re the best person on this crew, then it’s your responsibility to bring the others up to your level; so the better you think you are, the more responsibility you should assume for that crew. And you’re not just, “I’m the best and the rest of these people are no good,” but the higher you think of yourself, the more you should work to get the rest of your crew to be productive.
MK: Wouldn’t that be wonderful if we could get everybody to do that?
TRF: Oh yeah, it would change everything. There’d be less whining on the beach, less complaining in the locker room after practice.
MK: Well, and you were affectionately known as Mama Finney, because you did exactly what you’ve just been talking about. You take care of everybody.
TRF: I try to take care of everybody.
MK: It was very much appreciated I know by all of them.
MK: Who was your coach for most of those years?
TRF: Well, I would have to say probably Tom Conner. But as I said, you know, Aaron Young coached us and I mean we’ve had so many different coaches. I couldn’t even go back and tell you how many different people I have paddled under. Tom McTigue was my coach for a while and then, as I said Brant Ackerman. And gosh I don’t know.
MK: You’ve mentioned Tommy Conner, and he passed away much too soon.
TRF: Oh yes.
MK: Tell me about him, as a coach, what was he like?
TRF: Well, I loved him dearly, he was a great friend. But he was all business. And if you didn’t toe the line, he’d cut you, regardless. I mean and he also was kind of a stickler on attitude too. He didn’t want somebody that didn’t have a good attitude. So that was an important thing. Steve Scott was a longtime coach of mine and he also was very businesslike in his coaching and he knew exactly what he wanted. And the joke is to me, he carried this little spiral notebook with him whenever he would go to practices and the joke was we were going to hijack the spiral notebook and look in it to see what we could find out. Nobody ever did.
MK: Well, you know that’s funny because when we did his oral history, he brought all of those books.
TRF: He did?
MK: He did and I actually looked at them and they’re all in the shorthand, that you could never ever tell what he was …
TRF: You could never figure it out, I think it was just numbers and initials and stuff.
MK: Yes exactly, but he still has all of them; two bags full of them.
TRF: Yeah, there is a story that I tell to my kids that I coach and it’s true. And I was paddling for Steve Scott and I didn’t make first crew. And I really felt in my heart that I should be on the first crew. And I also came to the conclusion that if I couldn’t be on the first crew, I wasn’t going to paddle at all. And so I went to Steve and I told him that and I said, “You know, I really think that I deserve to be on the first crew and you’ve put me in the second crew and I’m not going to do it, I’m not going to paddle Molokai if I’m not … because I want to win and I can’t win with the second crew.
And he just was very quiet and he said, “Well, I understand. Thank you very much for paddling and we’ll see you later.” And I was just like, “What? You mean, you’re not even going to argue with me or anything?” I mean, he absolutely dismissed me. That was the most miserable decision I ever made in my life. I went home, I felt rejected, I was just, I was a mess and it became grossly apparent that what I had done was the worst possible thing and that what I should have done instead of being a quitter was to be a leader for the second crew.
And that was the most miserable week of my life and I had to paddle out in my one man and watched my crew go by at the end of the Molokai race and I felt like such a loser that I hadn’t stepped up to the plate. It was a life changing experience and I would never ever, ever do anything like that again. And like I said, Instead of just thinking that you’re so terrific, that you’re above it all, I should have sucked it up and gotten over myself and gotten over my ego and gone with the second crew and I could’ve inspired them. They would have been happy to have me and I could have made them better and we could have done great and been proud of what we did. So it was a very good lesson, self-taught lesson that I have not forgotten. And I still-
MK: Very difficult.
TRF: Yeah, it was really terrible, but it was a good lesson learned and I hold that in my heart to this day.
MK: Well, you were on ten Na Wahine crews that finished in the top three in the Molokai race; you can’t mess with that kind of success.
TRF: That was, we were fortunate. We worked hard for it.
MK: What was your favorite Na Wahine that you remember?
TRF: Oh, the first of course; the terrifying first. Yeah the first definitely.
MK: What specifically do you remember, well other than the start?
TRF: That we just were dominant, you know. I mean, we did our jobs, we were just a well-oiled machine and we just you know kicked ass and took names. I tell you, the Outrigger Girls were so good in those, you know, those first few years we were head and shoulders above the other girls. When we would do the Liliuokalani race over on, from Kona, we actually would stop in the water and do water ballet; because there was nobody around us. How over the top is that? I have pictures of my teammates and I with our legs in the air doing water ballet and when we were doing our changes because there was no other canoes even around us, it was crazy. It’s not like that anymore.
MK: No unfortunately.
TRF: No it’s very competitive and it’s an iron man race now.
MK: In Kona.
MK: Well, and our fate kind of changed when Offshore started putting together all those elite kayakers.
TRF: Exactly, well like I said, we’d only draw from our small pond and they draw from California.
MK: The night before the Na Wahine race, there’s usually a big dinner and all of the crews are required to put on … To perform for the rest of the crews. Are they still doing that?
TRF: You know, I don’t know, but I don’t think so. We only did that once or twice and then I think that too many of the paddlers were too serious, you know, athletically serious; they wanted to eat early and be in bed. Because those shows and things, although they were really fun, they would go on and on and on and kept people up too late at night. I don’t know for a fact, but I don’t think they do that anymore.
MK: Too many crews now probably.
TRF: So many crews, yeah, too many girls.
MK: What kind of skits did the Outrigger girls do?
TRF: I think we danced around or something or sang a song, I don’t really remember exactly. We did something foolish, no doubt.
MK: Well, I heard a story about a canoe that wound up in a swimming pool or a pond on the golf course?
TRF: Yes, that is true, that is true. We sent our Koa canoe to Molokai and it got damaged in shipping. And Wayne Faulkner used to do all of the Koa woodwork for us.
MK: Which canoe was this?
TRF: I think it might have been the Leilani I’m not one hundred percent sure, but it was a Koa canoe and the nose of it was damaged and it had to be worked on. So we carried it into the downstairs condo at Kenani Kai, we put the nose of the canoe inside the condo. So up on chairs with pillows so that Wayne could work on it, and he patched it with fiberglass or did whatever he was doing to repair it. Then we all used our hair dryers to dry it. And then it had to be rigged and it had to be water balanced or I’m not exactly sure what the term is, but it had to be tested, water tested. So we were at, as I said at Kenani Kai, and there was a golf course there. We carried the canoe down and put it into the water hazard, and then we all sat in the canoe and he looked at the rigging and decided that that was a good rig and that we would go with that. But we carried it down and put it into the pond, into the water hazard on the golf course yeah that’s true we did that.
MK: So when you get to Molokai, the canoes are not rigged?
MK: Who does the rigging? The women or do they have the men do it?
TRF: No, we do it.
MK: Do your own rigging?
TRF: Back in the day, the guys would come and help us do it; nowadays the women do everything. A long time ago we used to, the girls we’d go over early, we’d have a couple of guys, we’d go down to the pier, we’d hand carry the canoes off of the barges put them on the trailer, then we’d have to trailer them and we’d have to take them down to Hale O Lono. And then carry them off the trailer, put them down on the beach and then we’d you know rig and boys would help us rig. And we’d put all of our covers on and do everything the day before and do all the taping and do all the organizing and all that kind of stuff it was a huge, it’s a huge job, it’s a huge job. The girls to do it all now.
I’m sure there are some men involved, you know, but the girls, the last couple of times that I was there, we did all our own rigging.
MK: That’s good.
TRF: Yes it is good. And there always is one or two men around that we defer to have them do a last check, just to double check our work and make sure everything is good.
MK: You know, it’s seems like it’s much more difficult for a woman to be a competitive paddler than a man, because you have to juggle your family with paddling and work and all of that. How did you manage to do all that?
TRF: Well, I was lucky enough to have a lady that would come and look after Thomas for me, my boy. And Katy Borne and I had matching babies at the same time and so she would come to my house, I lived right across the street from the Outrigger and she would come to my house and drop off her daughter and I would leave Thomas. So Kai and Thomas and the babysitter would stay at my house so Katy and I could paddle and we did that for years. And we were very lucky that that worked out that way. There was a time also when we got together as moms and we had like a babysitter, we hired some Outrigger, younger Outrigger girls to babysit kids in the Board Room while we went to practice, and it was like Romper Room down here.
MK: Well that’s, because you know, what do you do with your children?
TRF: It was a big problem, it was a big problem.
MK: You were on so many winning crews over the years, what do you do with all your medals and trophies?
TRF: We have a designated area in our garage where I’ve put up like about maybe twenty-feet long of a Koa veneer on the wall, and it is about twenty-feet long by about four-feet high and it is completely filled with medals and old broken paddles that got fifty nails in it with all the metals. Because between John and myself, we have hundreds and hundreds of koa bowls and plaques and medals and oh my God, I mean people come in there they go, “Oh my goodness.” I go, “Yeah, look at that. Look at how much time we’ve wasted.” It’s a life time wasted. Yeah, we have sort of a designated area in the garage that has a garage has them.
MK: In the garage, that’s interesting. Not in the house?
TRF: No, not in the house; it’s overwhelming, it’s overwhelming.
MK: Do you ever go out and look and think about, “Oh my goodness?”
TRF: Well, everyday, we open the garage door and there they all are and every season you know the regatta season, between John and myself, we probably bring home another ten or fifteen medals each season. So they’re four or five deep on each hook. So, there’s a lot of them.
MK: What’s changed in the last forty years in canoe racing?
TRF: I think most, the biggest change is just the heightened skill of the individual athlete, the cross training, the tools that are available to you now. I mean, when we paddle, we paddle with a metronome in our boat for our timing. We have, everybody’s got a smart watch a smartphone, we’ve got video, we’ve got … This last season, there was a drone operator that was filming us paddling, practicing in the Ala Wai and taking drone video of the teams as they were practicing, so that you could really see. And the athletes, individual athletes are cross training. They’re paddling one man’s, they’re running, they’re lifting, they’re cross fitting, they’re doing all kinds of different things, so we didn’t do any of that stuff when we first started.
MK: It was just pure paddle.
TRF: It was pretty much pure paddle and surfing maybe you know.
MK: To make it interesting.
TRF: Yeah, to make it interesting.
MK: What are some of your favorite memories about canoe paddling at the Outrigger Canoe Club?
TRF: Wow, the parties afterwards, probably. It was not unusual for the majority of the paddlers after a regatta to all come back to the Club and all go to the lounge and into the bar in the Terrace and eat dinner together, drink together, celebrate together. Especially if Outrigger won the race, it would not be unusual for a hundred people to come back to the Club. We don’t do that, people don’t do that anymore. We were more wild, the younger kids are not as wild as we were. I mean there used to be a lot of tequila, big trays of shots of tequila and people climbing in the canoe.
MK: Well I was going to ask you about that.
TRF: I thought that was coming. I have never been in that canoe.
TRF: I have never been in that canoe.
MK: That canoe, how about the last one, about the?-
TRF: No. I have never been in that canoe. In the canoe in the bar, no, I’ve helped a lot of people get in, I’ve stood on the bar and lifted people into that canoe, but I myself have never been in that canoe.
MK: Why not?
TRF: No, not my style.
MK: You also served on the Canoe Racing Committee for a dozen years and were Club Captain in 1999. What was your job on the Canoe Racing Committee?
TRF: Oh gosh, we wear a lot of hats when you’re on that committee. Basically, you just have to organize, you’ve got to make sure that you have somebody who takes care of the maintenance of the boats, the rigging, the logistics for the races; you know, who’s going to drive, who’s going to be in the whalers? Make sure that the whalers are properly done, it takes a village, it’s not just one person, it’s a lot of people doing a lot of different jobs.
MK: Did you have a specific job?
TRF: No, I don’t recall having a specific job, I think I did a little bit of everything. I mean, you know, you have to make bailers, so somebody has got to make a whole bunch of bailers or somebody has got to be in charge of getting the maintenance guys to make all the seats. And then on the day, the beginning of the regatta season you have to make sure that all those boats have new seats and that kind of stuff is always an issue and its ongoing, the maintenance is ongoing, it never stops, it’s year round. And the canoes need to be stored and moved and trailers need to be maintained. It’s a big job. The Canoe Racing Committee is a big job.
MK: And then you were a Club Captain and, tell me about your year as that?
TRF: It was fine; I didn’t really have any problems with that. I had good people working with me and around me; I had good advice from former Club Captains. Meetings were fine, I mean, it was painless.
MK: Was the financial part of it overwhelming?
TRF: You know, those were hard years for the Outrigger because we were in transition and there was a lot of well actually that’s kind of my Board member years more than Club Captain years. But no, I think there’s budgets and the budgets were met and everything was okay.
MK: Was it hard to be a woman Club Captain?
MK: Did the men listen to you?
TRF: Absolutely. I’m the mama; they have to listen to me. No, I had no problems with that at all.
MK: Now you coached for both your kids crews?
TRF: I did.
MK: How long did you coach?
TRF: I coached boys, I had a group that started when they were ten, I had the little boys and I stayed with that same group of boys until they were eighteen and they were state champions. And the same group of boys, and then I started again when my daughter was the right age and I started with her girls and I took those girls all the way up till they were eighteens too and some of them stayed and went out and did paddle long distance. So very successful.
MK: You must have some fond memories of those kids growing up.
TRF: They’re good kids, they were good kids. The boys were all really good boys, and they’re all grown men now and some of them are coaching and it’s wonderful to see them. They have families of their own now, and they have kids that are about the right age to paddle. So I feel very long of tooth when I-
MK: Who were some of these boys?
TRF: Oh well. Sellers, Dustin Sellers was one of my original boys. Wyatt (Jones), gosh you know, and Jesse Nicol was one of my original boys.
MK: Oh my goodness.
TRF: Wyatt went on to be an Olympian paddler.
MK: Wyatt Jones?
TRF: Wyatt Jones went on to be Olympic hopeful I believe. I think that he-
MK: He went to the Olympics.
TRF: He was one of my boys. And Kai Mowat was one of my original boys.
MK: Why is it they were all older than Thomas? Did you start earlier?
TRF: I’m not sure, I might have started earlier.
MK: That’s why.
TRF: Yeah, those were my original boys.
MK: Did you ever coach any adult crews?
TRF: No. I’ve been asked but my answer is usually, “I have all the enemies I need, I don’t need to be anybody’s coach.” You know, I’m sure I’ve given my two cents, but I’ve never been a head coach for any specific adult crew. I’ve been asked several times, but I haven’t heard the calling, perhaps later.
MK: Well you always made it so much fun for the kids when you were coaching them. I remember you used to have a hat contest on July 4th for the girls crews.
TRF: That was really fun.
MK: And they were so creative.
TRF: Yeah, that was really fun.
MK: What other kinds of things did you do?
TRF: I tried to do things that would bring the kids together more as friends and just not have them just show up for an hour and be teammates. I think we had a Club Day once, well, we used to have Club Day, and I think I did a jumpy castle in Kapiolani Park for the kids and then inevitably all the grownups got in there too, so that was kind of wild. I don’t know I think I remember doing the Keiki Carnival, we came up with that because they discontinued Club Day. Club Day used to be pretty much more for the grownups and there was alcohol involved and you know it kind of ran its course. So we decided that we would do the Keiki Carnival and I came up with that with lots of arts and crafts and we would do all kinds of fun things on the beach and have a dunking booth and it was directly aimed at the little kids. So I think that they still do that. They still do have the Keiki Carnival.
MK: Well, we had it for a few years, and it was fun when we did.
TRF: That was a fun thing.
MK: Do you still have … there used to be potlucks. I remember at Keehi Lagoon after races that you would come with your-
TRF: Oh, with the camo van.
TRF: Oh, the infamous camo van.
TRF: John kind of donated his Volkswagen camper van and oh that’s a cute story, so I had my boys thirteens and I come down for practice one day and I have a beige Volkswagen van that’s all rusty and crummy looking. And so I draw on the van with a magic marker and I make camouflage on the car the outlines of camouflage. And then I get my boys thirteens … Well in each area outlined, I put a number; one, two, or three and then I have three different colors of paint and I get my boys thirteens, and I give them all paint brushes and I have three different colors of just exterior house paint and I give two of them two cups of you know beige and two of them two cups of dark brown and two of them two cups of dark green and I say, “Okay boys, painting all the number ones, you’re painting all the number twos and you painting all the number threes. Ready? Go. And in about one hour, the boys painted my whole van.
And we made it camouflage and we did it right in the parking lot of the Outrigger. Then of course I took it home and made it a little bit more professional. And we put a big red cross on the side of it and we wrote OCC Medical and for years, we got away with parking wherever we wanted because the OHCRA people thought that we were the medical van. So we used to pull the camo van right up to the front. And then yes we had wonderful potlucks. It’s where everybody put their babies when they had to go out. Somebody would sit in the van; they’d load all the Keiki in the back of the van. It was infamous. It was really the medical van though; I mean we patched a lot of people up in that van.
MK: Yes you did.
TRF: People from other clubs would come and say, “Oh you know, I stepped on something and I need a bandage or I need a wrap on my foot or my leg or my arm or whatever and I had my dad’s medical kit in there so we’d doctor them up and send them on their way. It was good, yeah good fun in the camo van.
MK: Well you always found a way to make everything you did fun.
TRF: Well, you know even now my crew and I, we still after each regatta race, we all bring pupu and we sit under the tent and we all share together and we lay out a big spread, very fancy and everybody always walks by and goes, “Oh, caviar, strawberries. Wow, girls, you girls are styling.”
MK: Some people suggested that the Macfarlane is their favorite race; some of them said Dad Center. What’s been your favorite race over the years?
TRF: Well, it’s pretty hard to beat Macfarlane because you can be the winner or you can be the goat. Where you could be the fastest best crew out there and you can finish last. That’s always fun, a wave race is always fun. I think Dad Center is a very difficult race. I think a lot of times if the weather isn’t in your favor, it can be harder than Molokai even though it’s shorter. Just because the ama is always facing outward to the incoming water and the chances of turning over are much higher than to huli, especially along the Sandy Beach-Hanauma Bay Area, it’s tricky. The water is tricky there. And you’re tired by the time you get there and you kind of emotionally think that you’re almost home and you aren’t. You’re not around the corner yet.
Once you get to Hawaii Kai, you’re usually fairly safe, but you do let your guard down from Makapuu to Hanauma Bay, that stretch there. Emotionally you think you’re halfway home, but you really aren’t, and you have to be careful and that’s a tricky part of the race. But I mean as far as fun, Macfarlane definitely.
MK: You girls always get the hotel rooms go down and-
TRF: Oh yeah, we get dressed up, wear our red, white and blue, get a hotel room, yeah definitely.
MK: A good fun day?
TRF: Absolutely, a very good fun day and the best part about it is that it’s usually over by about one o’clock, because the races are so fast.
MK: The regatta?
TRF: Yeah, the Regatta is usually over shortly by two maybe, one o’clock, two o’clock in the afternoon.
MK: I’m usually there until six.
TRF: You’re working.
MK: You guys are through by then.
TRF: You’re working, we’re done.
MK: Oh you’re through competing by then?
MK: Yeah, okay, but the regatta is still going?
TRF: Oh yeah.
MK: Did you ever get into surf ski or one-man paddling?
TRF: Yeah, I had a one man for quite a few years. In fact we still have one, John and I share a one man. I don’t paddle it as much now as I used to. Just not having a place to keep it, you know it lives in Nuuanu, it’s hard to get it to the beach. But I know a lot of my girlfriends still do a Saturday morning run just for fun.
MK: Did you follow in your mom’s footsteps and race boats?
TRF: No, never raced boats. Love the Jet Ski though. Like to ride the Jet Ski.
MK: Do you drive them?
TRF: Oh yeah, absolutely. Recently, some girlfriends and I went to Tahiti together and we rented jet skis and we drove all the way around Bora Bora on our jet skis. It was fabulous, really good fun.
MK: I know one of your favorite hobbies is fishing.
TRF: I love to fish.
MK: How did you get started fishing?
TRF: I was invited to go to a salmon fishing lodge. Actually John went first and he came home and he said, “Honey, you won’t believe this. This is just amazing. This is the best fishing; you’re going to love this. It’s on the water, it’s a beautiful place.” So the next year, he and I went together and we had the most fun and the fishing was over the top. And I have never missed a year. This is in Canada, this is British Columbia, it’s a place called Langara Fishing and its open ocean water fishing. I drive my own boat I have my own whaler there, I drive my own boat and I fish often by myself and the fishing is fantastic and this year I brought home seventy-five pounds of salmon.
TRF: Yeah, it’s unbelievable. There’s whales and eagles and sea lions and dolphins and killer whales. I mean, it’s just, it’s the wild. It’s just untouched and beautiful and actually I’m leaving in a week. I’m going back to Canada, I’m going to the Fraser River and I’m going sturgeon fishing. So I’m looking forward to that. Its sport fishing, is all catch and release. This is the last wild school of natural sturgeon left in the world. They’re the last ones and they live in the Fraser River. And we go there with the Sturgeon Society and we catch these fish and we scan them and chip them to protect them, but also to find out where they go, because we don’t know anything about them. So it’s kind of a scientific trip, but it’s fishing.
MK: Is it fly fishing?
TRF: The sturgeon fishing is pretty much like bottom fishing because a sturgeon is a little bit like a gigantic big catfish.
MK: What’s your favorite fish to catch?
TRF: Salmon, definitely.
MK: Well I know I’ve seen you coming in out of with a canoe with fish that you’ve caught right out here.
TRF: Yes, that’s true. When I was paddling my one-man during the proper seasons of the year, you can drag a little line and I used to catch papio and give them to Domie (Gose). All my fish went to the maintenance department.
MK: Did you catch any of mahi or anything else like that?
TRF: No, I’ve never caught anything big, but I know that some people do catch really big fish, but you’ve got to be a pretty hardy guy to get out there and catch a big mahi mahi on a one-man. I can’t imagine what that fight would be like. I’d like to experience that actually. I think you’d be dragged around definitely.
MK: Do you have a favorite fishing story you’d like to share?
TRF: Fishing story.
MK: The one that got away.
TRF: Well sure, what comes to mind is a fishing trip I took actually went with Greg Moss and Karl Heyer IV and Jackie Maguire and we went on a fishing trip to Honduras and we went to a place called Cannon Island. And it took two days to get there and about six or seven different modes of transportation to finally get to where we were going, and we were fishing for tarpon. And one of the days that we were fishing, we were in blue water and we were dragging lines and we got something big on one of these lines. And we fought it for about five minutes and then all of a sudden it got really easy to pull in and we were all making jokes like, “Oh what a loser this fish is, he gave up, he thought he was a big deal and now he’s just too tired.”
And when we reeled it in, it was a gigantic head. And something obviously a shark had bitten this fish right off and only the head was on the line and the head probably was twenty pounds. I mean it must have been a really big fish. And I don’t remember what kind of fish it was, but I mean it wasn’t a marlin because it didn’t have a bill, but it was some kind of really big fish. That was the one that got away because something ate it. We all like sat around and looked at this thing, and it was a clean bite, nothing but the head left.
MK: Were you in a boat or?
TRF: Yes we were in a boat that…
MK: You’re looking all around to see-
TRF: … I didn’t feel it was big enough at the time.
MK: Oh my goodness. Well I understand you started a scholarship up in Alaska where you go fishing.
TRF: British Columbia, yes. The Queen Charlotte Islands. Yes a group of friends and I initiated a scholarship foundation, it’s now called Scholarship Foundation of the Pacific. We bring one deserving student from the Queen Charlotte each year to Hawaii and pay their full tuition for four years at HPU including, housing, food and all of their books.
TRF: Yeah, it’s a very nice thing and it’s our way of giving back to the Queen Charlotte’s because we love that area and we fish there every year and there’s a lot of us and so we do some pretty serious fund raising and that’s one of the reasons that the sturgeon fishing thing is happening because it’s put on by the scholarship. So all of the funds that we earn from the sturgeon fishing trip will be split between the Sturgeon Society and the scholarship foundation.
MK: Wonderful. You mentioned earlier that you got … That you rode bikes with the boys?
TRF: Absolutely, yeah.
MK: I remember seeing you drive in here once with the … On big Harley with the toughest looking motorcycle gang I can ever imagine and it was a Toys for Tots drive.
TRF: Yes it was a Toys for Tots drive, that was really fun.
MK: All these tough guys and then all of a sudden I see Tiare.
TRF: Well John bought me an 883 Sportster when I was forty years old. So for my fortieth birthday, I was pregnant with my daughter and I got a Harley Davidson, It was wonderful, it was wonderful. Yeah the bike riding goes back pretty far, I won a bet and the bet I can’t remember what it was for, but the prize from the bet was a dirt bike and I won it from Pflueger. So I got this bike and I didn’t have any idea what to do with it, I didn’t know how to ride it, but I knew that it was going to be fun. And Mr. Beaumont, John Beaumont was kind of the motorcycle guru for the boys that were riding dirt bikes all the time. That would have been Steve Quinn, Steve Scott, Brant Ackerman and Walter (Guild), kind of that group they would, were always going out to Kahuku, and riding around on their dirt bikes and so I was like, “Wow, this is kind of cool, maybe I could try to do this.”
Mr. Beaumont taught me, he took me to Mililani and taught me how to ride a motorcycle. And it was just the best and I loved it. And the bike was way too big and way too heavy for me, so I soon traded down and got a smaller lighter bike and started riding motorcycles with the boys on the weekends. And we used to ride in Kahuku and we had our place up in Opae Ula, called Opae Ula that they had a house Steve Scott and Walt and Ack, they had their house up there and it was automatic Sunday, you know, Saturday, Sunday weekend thing. We go up there with our kids and all the wives and we’d barbecue and we’d ride all day and it was just fabulous.
And so the more I rode with them, the more I loved it and then I started going to the Mauna Kea Race with them as their helper. And that’s kind of where Mamamoto came from. Because I was the mama taking care of all the motor guys. So I would drive the chase truck, bring all the tools, bring all the changes of clothes and I would go from point A to point B to make sure that I was there so when they came through the checkpoints, that I would have whatever they needed; warmer clothes or tools or food or whatever. And then I did that for them for years and then all of a sudden I was just like you know, I bet I could do this, maybe I should try to do this. So I think I was 50, and I signed myself up and I convinced my husband to go with me.
So John and I did the Mauna Kea Race and I did fine, it was great and of course, there wasn’t anybody … there were no other old ladies, so I came home with a great big trophy and it was great. And then so I decided, you know what? I need a little bit better bigger bike, so I bought a better bigger bike and I did it the second year and I did it with my nephew. The second year was way better, because I had more horsepower and it was great and we did great. And I got second overall of the women and again, no old ladies, so I got a nice big trophy for being the makule lady.
And then the third year, I did it the third time and three times three strikes you’re out, that was a really hard race. I crashed a lot, I hurt myself pretty badly, but I loved it. I mean I was good and I finished, a lot of men don’t even finish, but I did finish. So that’s out of my system, I don’t need to do that Mauna Kea Race anymore. So I’m looking for something else, a new adventure.
MK: So, are you involved in any sports now? You’re still paddling?
TRF: Still paddling, still do the regatta season. I have to paddle 65s now ,gulp. And we do pretty good you know, we have, some weeks are better than others, but I like my teammates, we have good camaraderie.
MK: Some of them are ladies you’ve been paddling with.
TRF: Michele St. John and I we’re still there. Yeah we’re still there.
MK: That’s great.
TRF: Yep she’s my steersman
MK: Well you served on a lot of Club committees as well and you were on the Board of Directors for a term, for four years I think it was. You didn’t run for reelection for another term?
TRF: No, I served my time.
MK: Had enough.
MK: Anything important going on, on the Board in those years that you were on it?
TRF: Yeah, the Club was beginning, it’s a big transition and those were some of the years where we spent a lot of time and energy trying to reconfigure the Club. And they were going to move the weight room, and they were going to change … they were going to put a second story over the dining room and I mean there were all kinds of things in the works and everybody was tearing their hair out. I think we just spent a lot of money and a lot of time and energy and then nothing really happened and-
MK: That was the OCC2C project?
TRF: Yeah, wow. It was a real challenge.
MK: And the members voted it down after all of that.
TRF: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.
MK: Did that discourage you from further-?
TRF: Yeah, that was pretty much it. I just went you know, I don’t think that this is not the right spot for me. I think I can be more helpful somewhere else.
MK: Well you volunteered on a lot of committees, you were on entertainment for years.
TRF: Yeah, I love being on the Entertainment Committee.
MK: Put on great parties.
TRF: I loved the Entertainment. Yeah, I loved Halloween, we did a haunted house thing and we did all kinds of stuff. We used to do the Paddle Ball too, we don’t do Paddle Balls anymore. That was always really wild.
MK: That was great, with the guys coming in tuxedo jackets and shorts.
TRF: Tuxedo jackets and their swim trunks and the girls in their bathing suits with diamonds and pearls and then-
MK: High heels.
TRF: High heels, absolutely.
MK: Yeah, it was so much fun.
TRF: Yeah, that was great.
MK: Why do you think more people don’t volunteer at the Club?
TRF: I don’t know. I always put my name down on one or two of the things where they send the little card around, but I think I don’t know. I just really don’t have an answer for that. Too busy maybe, not willing maybe to give up … a lot of the girls that I know, the people that I paddle with, they do all kinds of things for the Club. I mean, like I can’t come tonight, I got a meeting. I can’t make practice tonight, because I have a meeting. I have a meeting at the Club. Alice Lunt, she’s the most dedicated Outrigger person I know.
TRF: Oh, she does so many things you know, especially doing all that registration at the canoe races for years.
MK: Nobody gave her credit for-
TRF: What a thankless job that is, oh my goodness.
MK: Yes, I agree.
MK: But we have so many people, I mean somebody said 90% are takers and 10% are givers who are serving on committees. That’s a big difference.
TRF: Well, I can only speak from the paddling point of view that about five years ago, I started to just sort of notice and look around. The same older people were doing all the same older stuff. I mean we’re still the ones that show up to sand the hull of the canoe. We’re still the ones that show up to carry the boats, we’re still the ones that show up. I was kind of getting after some of the younger girls and saying, “Hey, you know what? It’s time for you guys to step up because we’re getting too old to do this. You girls need to get on the program.” And some of them have stepped up a bit.
MK: That’s great.
TRF: We’ll see on Sunday when we have five men’s crews paddling this year (Molokai Hoe), and they have called upon the women to show up at the finish line to paddle boats back. Not only do you paddle the boat back, but then you carry it up onto the beach, you unrig it, you put all the parts away in all the places that they belong, you take the covers off, you wash all the covers, you wash all the rigging, you hang everything up. As of this morning and I looked at the sign up, there are quite a few empty spaces. So we’ll see.
TRF: But guess whose names are there, yeah?
MK: The same old?
TRF: The same girls.
TRF: So I’ll be steering a boat back. Genie Kincaid will be there.
MK: The people that are regulars?
TRF: Yeah, the people that are regulars will be there.
MK: You were also on the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation Board of Directors?
MK: How were you involved with ODKF?
TRF: Just kind of being there and listening to what they were saying and what their goals were. It was early on and it has really blossomed into a wonderful organization. I’m very proud of ODKF. They’re doing a great job and they always have wonderful youth. They always find the real cream of the crop. ODKF is a lot like my scholarship that I do, my educational scholarship. They’re just rewarding good behavior for people that are doing good things and I really like that. When it first started, we were sort of feeling our way along. We kind of knew what we wanted to do, but when I was there, it was pretty early on I believe. So it has matured into a much higher functioning energy.
MK: That’s it. You’re married to John Finney?
TRF: I am married to John Finney, almost thirty-eight years.
MK: Did you meet him here at the Club?
TRF: I did as a matter of fact. I think the first time that we ever spoke to each other was after a canoe race and he was friends with Dr. Nicol, Don Nicol. And I think Don may have introduced me to him on the beach after a canoe race, but that’s the first time I ever met him here.
MK: And you’ve been married thirty-eight years?
TRF: Almost thirty-eight, yeah I think thirty-eight years.
MK: Wow, that’s wonderful.
TRF: And we have two children, my son Thomas, and I have a daughter Elizabeth.
MK: And they’re grown up now?
TRF: Grown up.
MK: And they were both involved in paddling, you said and you coached them when they were growing up
MK: That’s wonderful. What do you think has been your proudest moment as an athlete at the Club?
TRF: I think my proudest moment or moments would be after a Molokai race. Traditionally we come down to the Club on the Monday following the race, and the crew gets together and we sit on the Terrace. I think the proudest moments for me, have been when members that I don’t even know come and pat you on the shoulder and say, “Thanks for doing such a great job, we’re really proud of you.” I think that’s-
MK: What a good feeling?
TRF: Yeah, you know you pass somebody in the hallway and you have your lei on that Sunday afternoon, and someone that doesn’t even know you will stop and say, “Oh, you paddled the Molokai, congratulations, you guys did a great job. We’re so proud of you.” That makes it all worthwhile.
MK: Wonderful feeling.
TRF: Yeah, it’s a great feeling.
MK: The Winged “O” selected you to its membership in 2014, was that a surprise?
TRF: It was a surprise and I was so honored. I was very honored. That’s a big deal for me. I feel very honored.
MK: Well, and fifty years of its history, there’s only like 52 members, so that’s quite an honor to be selected.
TRF: Yeah, I think there’s only six women. I think so, yeah.
MK: That’s wonderful.
TRF: I’m very proud of it.
MK: I want to thank you for doing this oral history today. Is there anything that you’d like to add, any more stories you’d like to tell?
TRF: No, it’s been my pleasure and I hope that you got what you were looking for. I hope to be here fifty more years.
MK: Well, I have one last question for you again. What has your membership in the Outrigger Canoe Club meant to you?
TRF: Oh gosh, it’s tremendous. I mean it’s my social connection with my friends. It’s a beautiful place to come to, the beach and I’m planning on having dinner here tonight. The social aspects of it, I have made great friends. It was a wonderful place for me to raise my children, a safe clean, friendly family place to have a family and raise your children, which is probably the biggest part of it for me. I just feel honored to be a member and I hope to be here for a lot more years.
MK: As do we all.
TRF: Yes, as do we all.
MK: Thank you again Tiare.
TRF: You’re welcome. Thank you for asking me, it’s been a pleasure.
Athletic Contributions to the OCC
Na Wahine O Ke Kai Canoe Race
1979 1st Place
1981 1st Place
1982 2nd Place
1984 1st Place
1985 1st Place
1986 3rd Place, 1st Koa
1987 2nd Place
1988 2nd Place
1990 3rd Place
1991 3rd Place
1993 16th Place
1994 4th Place, Masters
1995 8th Place
1997 8th Place
State Canoe Racing Championships
1985 Senior Women
1987 Masters Women
1988 Senior Women
1991 Senior Women
1996 Mixed Masters
1997 Masters Women
2015 Women 60
1984 Junior Women
1985 Senior Women
1986 Senior Women
1987 Senior Women
1988 Senior Women
1990 Sophomore Women
1991 Junior Women
1992 Junior Women
1993 Junior Women
1994 Open 4
1996 Junior Women
1997 Masters Women
2004 Masters Women
2006 Masters Women
2010 Masters 60
2016 Masters 65
Dad Center Race
1978 1st Place
1979 2nd Place
1980 1st Place
1981 1st Place
1984 1st Place
1985 1st Place
1986 1st Place
1987 15th Place
1988 1st Place
1991 2nd Place
1993 7th Place
1995 1st Place
1997 9th Place
2005 1st, Koa
Service to the Outrigger Canoe Club
Board of Directors
2000 Coordinating Director, Entertainment
2001 Coordinating Director, Public Relations
2002 Assistant Secretary, Coordinating Director, Historical
2003 Assistant Secretary, Coordinating Director, Historical
Canoe Racing Committee
Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation Board of Directors