Canoe surfing has been popular with members of the Outrigger Canoe Club since its founding in 1908. When the OCC Beach Service was started in the 1930s, tourists also began to experience the joy of riding Waikiki’s rolling waves in large wooden canoes steered by Waikiki’s famous beach boys.
In 1964 when the Club moved to its Diamond Head site, canoe surfing took on a new life as members enjoyed the thrilling rides at Old Man’s, Castles, Sand Bar, Rice Bowl, and Tonggs surf breaks in front of the Club. As fiberglass canoes became available, they became the craft of choice because of their easier maneuverability.
The Club maintains a fleet of surfing canoes for member’s enjoyment. All steersman must be tested and approved for the size of wave they will be surfing. Members gather on the beach and Hau Terrace to witness the thrills and the spills of these daring canoe surfers.
Except for the canoes named after Club members, the Outrigger’s surfing canoes are named for the various surf breaks in front of the Club.
The Club’s first two fiberglass surfing canoes, the Duke and the Dad, were constructed from an old but very good koa surfer discovered by Charlie Martin in 1972. The hull and mold were fabricated by the Fiberglass Shop and George Downing was hired to complete the job which entailed design and fabrication of rails, manu and seats and the all-important placement of those components in the finished canoe. The Duke was finished first and christened on May 6, 1972 by Auntie Eva Pomroy. The sister canoe the Dad was completed in July 1972. Both canoes had three seats. Both canoes were replaced in later years, and the Duke was decommissioned several years ago.
The Fiberglass Shop created a mold for a four-man surfing canoe they called the Duke and it was used for the Club’s surfing canoes for a number of years. When they sold the business, the mold went to canoe designer Karel Tresnak Sr. Karel prefered his own design mold named Makaha.
In 1996, member Jay Dowsett, owner of Kailuakanu, created a mold template for a four-man surfing canoe after a koa surfing canoe owned by his grandfather Herbert Dowsett that was kept in the family’s front yard in Lanikai. This mold is known as the Opelu mold and was named after the family canoe. All of the Club’s current four-person surfing canoes were built from Dowsett’s Opelu mold.
|Meaning of Hawaiian Name
|This canoe was named for OCC Past President John Cline Mann who suggested names for many of the Club's canoes. When Cline passed away in 1996, there was an overwhelming desire in the Club to remember him with a canoe. Cline would have hated the idea and been the first to object. He was adamantly opposed to any Club canoe being named for a member, no matter who they were. He wasn't around to voice his displeasure but the irascible old curmudgeon's protests and revenge have not been lost on us. Of all our surfing canoes, the Cline has been damaged more often and more severely than any of our other surfing canoes. Most of the damage has been inflicted in front of the Club at or near Sand Bar which just happens to be where Cline's ashes lay at rest. The first Cline was dedicated in 1996. In 2008 when the Cline was again damaged, Cline's nephew Jay Dowsett donated one of his Kailuakanu Opelu mold canoes to replace the Cline, and offered lifetime repairs or replacement as long as the canoe was named the Cline. The Cline was replaced again on March 3, 2016 by Dowsett due to extensive damage.
|This canoe is named for George "Dad" Center, the Club's first coach in every water sport from its founding in 1908 until his death in 1962. He was the coach of the U.S. Olympic swimming team in the 1920 Games in London. His favorite pasttime was surfing in his canoe Miss Vedol and taking anyone who wanted to paddle with him. Dad is also considered the father of beach volleyball which he started at the Club in 1915. This is the second surfing canoe to bear his name. The first canoe, a 3-seater, was dedicated in 1972. It was replaced with a 3-seater in 2007.
|"Old Man's" Named for the surf spot Old Man's near the Club. The original `Elemakule was built in the late 1990s. It was replaced in 2014 with a Kailuakanu Opelu mold canoe. Name suggested by Cline Mann.
|This canoe is named after one of the many surfing sites in front or near the Club where our surfing canoes are most used. Kakela is the Hawaiian word for Castles.
|Karel Tresnak Sr.
|"Sand Bar" Named for the Sand Bar near the Club. Name suggested by Cline Mann. It is a Kailuakanu Opelu mold canoe.
|George "Dad" Center