The Outrigger Canoe Club owns a number of six-man non-koa racing canoes (fiberglass and foam) that Club crews use to practice and race in.
First Fiberglass Canoe
Outrigger member A. E. “Toots” Minvielle Jr., founder of the Molokai to Oahu long distance canoe race, constructed the first known fiberglass canoe in 1954. “So many things on the beach have come in for a coat of fiberglass of late, such as surfboards, paddles, catamarans, skiffs, that the question arose as to the making of a canoe,” Minvielle wrote. Accordingly, Phil “Caboose” Carr of Craig and Co., the local Hawaii distributor of fiberglass materials, engaged Minvielle to prepare plans and drawings for a 28-foot, 6-paddle canoe.
In an article in the Outrigger magazine in September 1954, Minvielle stated that “The hull of the canoe was designed for surfing purposes. Several other features were incorporated. It was shaped so as to be picked up by the wave better than most canoes. It was made to hold a more steady course and to be a much easier steering canoe. The plastic and fiberglass materials seem to have a density greater than that of water taken as 1.0. Such being the case, these materials then will not float, neither will a swamped fiberglass canoe. To give floatation, a double or false bottom, three inches or so thick, was provided for the full length of the canoe and water-tight compartments were put in at the bow and stern,” he wrote.
“Whereas, the outrigger arms or `iako are usually of the ‘hau’ tree which must be found with a suitable curve, the `iako for this canoe were made from three pieces of 1 x 3 spruce which were bent to the required curve and uniformity and glued together. The ama or floating outrigger was made from redwood, hollow inside for lightness and fiberglassed on the outside for surface protection. Other parts of the canoe such as the gunwale, seats, manu or end coverings and wai or cross braces were made of wood and shaped in the usual manner.”
The launching and try-out of the canoe took place on the beach at the Outrigger Canoe Club. Most of the celebrated authorities on surfing and canoe steering had their chance to try it out. Even Duke Kahanamoku was eager to give it a test run, steering it on a wave from “blow hole” right in to the beach at the Outrigger’s dining room.
“In the construction of the canoe, a ‘female’ mold was first made to the required dimensions and supervised control. It resembled a water trough or elongated bath tub. The fiberglass materials were applied to this mold and upon hardening the shell was simply lifted out of the mold. The finished product, being painted black, cannot be distinguished at a distance from an ordinary koa or wood canoe,” Minvielle added.
“Unless a lot of interest is developed and men with strong backs secured to go up into the mountains of Kona for the large koa trees, this method of making Hawaiian outrigger canoes may be the thing of the future,” Minvielle concluded.
On April 7, 1957 Outrigger launched the Kaiolokea (“White Rolling Sea”), the Club’s first fiberglass canoe. The canoe was built by OCC Coach George Downing and was blessed by OCC’s Eva Pomroy. The first trial run after the blessing was made by Duke Kahanamoku and Downing. The canoe was 28 feet in length and made of fiberglass, one of a fleet of some 25 such canoes. The canoes were formed on a mold with fiberglass cloth and plastic resin and weighed around 400 pounds, compared to the koa canoes that weighed from 650 to 700 pounds at that time.
Outrigger raced in the Molokai to Oahu race for the first time in a fiberglass canoe in 1963, finishing in fourth place. The canoe: the Kawelea. After that race the Club returned to koa canoes until 1975 when its second crew crossed the Ka`iwi Channel in the fiberglass canoe Aukai. The first crew raced in the koa canoe Kakina and finished first.
OCC won its first Molokai race in a fiberglass canoe in 1977 in Tom Conner’s Manu`Ula. After the Tahitians had entered and won the Molokai race in a sleek, fiberglass canoe the year before, Conner, coach of the Outrigger men’s crew, built the Manu`Ula to compete with the lighter and faster Tahitian canoes. The Club won in the Manu`Ula again in 1979. The Manu`Ula was owned by Conner, not the OCC.
The Outrigger continued to acquire fiberglass canoes as training canoes, as well as for use in distance races. Koa canoes are still required for all OHCRA and HCRA regattas.
In the 1980s several OCC members (Jeff Kissell, Hank Lass, Bob Riley and Walter Guild) owned the Fiberglass Shop which developed and manufactured the Hawaiian Class Racing Canoe, which soon became the standard for fiberglass canoes around the world. The Club replaced all of its old Malia-mold canoes with the Hawaiian Class Racing canoes by 1987.
As new designs have became available, such as the Force Five, Mirage, Bradley and Tiger canoes, the Club has added to its fleet.
The Club currently has six unlimited canoes, the A`o, Koa`e, Manu O Ku, `Ua`u, Mōlī and Noio. The unlimited canoes are all named for Hawaiian Sea Birds. The A`o was acquired in 2014, the Manu O Ku (3-man unlimited) in 2015, the Koa`e in 2016, the `Ua`u in 2018 and the Mōlī and Noio in 2019. The canoes, which weigh about 160 pounds, compared to other canoes at 400+ pounds, are light enough that two people can carry them into the water. The canoes are used to train in and may be paddled during the long-distance season. They have not been sanctioned for regatta use.
The Club’s current fleet of six-man non-koa racing canoes includes:
|Canoe||Racing Number||Meaning of Hawaiian Name||Acquired||Type|
|A`o||8aa||Named for the Newell's Shearwater. All of the Club's unlimited canoes are named for sea birds. Six man racer.||2014||Tiger Unlimited|
|Alapaina||8c||"Ironwood Road" The name was proposed by Kala Judd in response to the City and County of Honolulu's decision to cut down the old and diseased ironwood tree alley into Kapiolani Park. Historically, the name is associated with the Club by the ironwood-lined road linking the old Club site with the new.||1999||Force Five|
|Aniani||Name means "to go fast like the wind".||1980||Malia|
|`Apuakehau||8e||"Mist Trap" This is the name of the fresh water stream beside which OCC's first permanent structure was built in 1910 (the pavilion seen in many early photos of the Club). The name was suggested by Cline Mann.||1993||Hawaiian Class Racer|
|Eleu||8p||"Lively" This name originally belonged to a surfing canoe owned by the Club. It was later given to a 6-man racer. The name was suggested by Auntie Eva Pomroy.||2002||Mirage|
|Helumoa||"Chicken Scratch" This was the name of the huge grove of coconut trees that stretched the length of Waikiki from Beach Walk to Prince Kuhio Beach. King Kamehameha V who owned the grove had a residence within that part of Helumoa abutting the ewa side of Prince Lunalilo's residence at Kaluaokau. The name was suggested by Cline Mann.||2001||Mirage|
|Henry Keawe Ayau||8q||Named for Club member Henry Keawe Ayau by the Canoe Racing Committee. The Club was unanimous in wanting to honor Henry after his tragic death. Read about Henry in the Winged "O" section of this website. The canoe was blessed on the beach at the start of the first Henry Keawe Ayau International Long Distance Canoe Race on September 15, 2002 as paddlers bid their farewell to Henry who has passed away on May 8. Fifty-one crews entered the Henry and OCC won the race in the Henry Keawe Ayau canoe as a fitting tribute to their friend and long-time teammate.||2002||Mirage|
|Hokuloa||8n||"Morning Star" The name relates to the bright morning star that heralds the coming of a new day. It is an appropriate name for ushering in a new generation of racing canoe. The name was suggested by Kawika Grant of the Canoe Racing Committee for the new Force Five class 6-man racing canoe designed by the Fiberglass Shop.||1996||Force Five|
|Hokuwelowelo||8i||"Comet" The name for this canoe was given by Auntie Eva Pomroy.||1986||Hawaiian Class Racer|
|Kai Li`oli`o||8b||"Sparkling Sea" The Club's Golden Masters women asked that a canoe be named in honor of Muriel Macfarlane Flanders, sister of Walter J. Macfarlane. Rather than name the canoe Muriel, the Hawaiian equivalent of her Celtric name was chosen meaning "Sparkling Sea".||2008||Bradley|
|Kainalu||8r||"Breaking Sea" This is the name of the former Castle Estate property, now shared by the OCC and the Elks Club. The name was suggested by Cline Mann.||2004||Mirage|
|Kaleo O Ke Kai||8f||"The Voice of the Sea" This canoe was the last canoe named by Auntie Eva Pomroy before her death.||1989||Hawaiian Class Racer|
|Kaluaokau||"Sleepy Hollow" Name of land upon which the first Club was situated, the Waikiki home of King Lunalilo, later willed to Queen Emma, from whose estate the Club leased the property until 1964.||2000||Hawaiian Class Racer|
|Kapua||8o||This is the name of the fresh water stream which formerly entered the ocean at the site of the present OCC. It is also the name of the channel originally carved through the reef by Kapua Stream's freshwater outflow which gives OCC its access to the sea. This is the second canoe with this name.||2015||Bradley|
|Kaulele||8k||"Take Flight" This name was chosen by the Canoe Racing Committee in the spirit of Auntie Eva Pomroy. It is a canoe that has had a long and successful OCC career.||1992||Hawaiian Class Racer|
|Kekio||8t||This is the name of the land division forming the eastern portion of Kapiolani Park. The name was suggested by Cline Mann.||2006||Mirage|
|Kialoa||87||"Racing Canoe" named by Auntie Eva.||1985||Hawaiian Class Racer|
|Kila Kila||8e||"Magestic" Named by Auntie Eva.||1987||Hawaiian Class Racer|
|Koa`e||8bb||Named for the Tropic Bird. All of the Club's unlimited canoes are named for Hawaiian sea birds. Six-man racer.||2016||Puukea Unlimited|
|Leahi||8g||"Diamond Head" The name was given by Auntie Eva Pomroy. This is the second time this name has been used for a canoe.||1992||Hawaiian Class Racer|
|Loli`i||8w||"Carefree" The beach located on the ewa side of the Club is known as Kaimana Beach. The beach had an earlier name specifically associated with the Kapiolani Park estate of Allan Herbert which became a hotel made famous by Robert Louis Stevenson, one of its earliest and most illustrious guests. The hotel was given the name Sans Souci by its general manager George Lucurgus of Volcano House fame. The Hawaiian equivalent of the French word carefree is Loli`i. The name was suggested by Kawika Grant of the Canoe Racing Committee.||2012||Bradley|
|Mamala||8h||This is the name of the waters fronting the old and new Clubs, encompassing the area inside a line running from Diamond Head to Barber's Point. This is the second time this name has been used for a canoe. Name suggested by Cline Mann.||2013||Bradley|
|Manu O Ke Kai||"Sea Bird" The OCC received this canoe in a swap in 2012. Member Bruce Ames bought this canoe from Lokahi Canoe Club and traded it to the OCC for the Onipa`a. He agreed to the Club's use of the canoe until 2017.||1980s||Malia|
|Manu O Ku||The white tern that nests in the trees fronting the Club. This is a 3-seat canoe.||2015||Puukea Unlimited|
|Manu `Ula||8v||"Red Bird" This name was proposed by Stew Kawakami to revive the memory and spirit of OCC's first glass canoe which twice won the Moloka`i Hoe. The original Manu 'Ula was built by Tommy Conner in 1977. Tommy's early "work in progress" canoe personified the OCC 'Hiki No' spirit.||2009||Bradley|
|Moana||8m||"The Ocean" The name relates to the vast Pacific, our ocean home. The name was suggested by Cline Mann.||1995||Force Five|
|Mōlī||8dd||Named for the Laysan Albatross. This is a 6-man ultralight canoe.||2019||Puakea Unlimited|
|Noio||8ee||Named for the Hawaiian Noddy. This is a 6-man unlimited canoe.||2019||Puakea Unlimited|
|Onipa`a||"Steadfast" This was the motto of Queen Lili`uokalani and several other royal ali`i. The canoe was named by Auntie Eva Pomroy. The OCC traded this canoe for the Manu O Ke Kai. It was on loan to the Club through 2017.||1985||Hawaiian Class Racer|
|`Ua`u||8cc||Named for the Hawaiian Petrel. All of the Club's unlimited canoes are named for Hawaiian sea birds. 6-man canoe.||2018||Puukea Unlimited|
|Uluniu||8s||"Coconut Grove" This was the name of the Waikiki residence of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani located within Helumoa on the Diamond Head side of the old Club site. This is also the name of the swim club organized by the OCC Women's Auxiliary directly adjacent to the Club after it was formed in 1908. The name was suggested by Cline Mann.||2004||Mirage|
|Waikiki||8y||WAIKĪKĪ. Not only is it the birthplace of Outrigger Canoe Club, but no other name is more closely bound to the Club and its history. The Club, moreover, while still at its Waikīkī location, had a canoe by that name. With 2018 being the 110th anniversary of Outrigger’s founding, it is a natural choice to celebrate the Club’s origins by a return to Waikīkī with a Club canoe bearing that most famous of all names. The canoe is 44' 10.5" long.||2017||Bradley|