Ron Sorrell was voted to Life Membership in the Outrigger Canoe Club at the Annual Meeting on February 13, 1917. Ron joined the Outrigger in 1945 and has been a contributing member ever since.
Born in Vancouver, Washington, Ron and his brother Dennis moved to Hawaii with their father, Victor Sorrell, in 1939. His father joined the Club soon after and Ron accompanied him to the beach where he taught himself to surf at an early age. After spending most of the war on the mainland, Ron returned to Hawaii in 1945 and was then old enough to become a Junior member. Ron chuckles at memories of kolohe pranks he and his friends pulled, but he soon straightened out and became a serious surfer.
With friends such as Fred Noa Sr. and Bobby Witham, Ron surfed around the island. When the big waves called, they answered, taking off with their boards on the car to the North Shore and Makaha. The south shore was their favorite, however, from Portlock to Ala Moana. They also enjoyed “full moon surfing” so whenever the moon was full, Ron and his buddies surfed well into the night. In 1956 he not only won, but set a record for the Diamond Head Surfboard Race. Ron admits his speed was partly induced by his fear of sharks.
In addition to spending twelve years paddling for Outrigger, Ron participated in the Club’s major non-water sport, volleyball, being chosen all-American for three years. In 1960 he played on the first team Outrigger sent to the USVBA National Championship tournament in Dallas, Texas.
In 1967, he played on the Outrigger team that won the AAU National Championship in Detroit, Michigan, against twenty-two outstanding teams. Ron was also a member of the Golden Masters in 1982 which competed in the USVBA National Tournament which featured one-hundred-thirty top teams from around the country. They played for three days without a single defeat.
Ron was also an outstanding coach, heading the OCC’s open volleyball teams for ten years. In 1961 Ron’s team won the State Championship, the Hickam Invitational and Citywide tournaments. He is proud of the fact that his teams received more medals than any other.
In addition to his participation in sports, Ron also took on the demanding role of Club Captain from 1957 to 1960. The job included assisting and overseeing all Club athletics. As a reward for his athletic prowess Ron was among the first group selected for membership in the newly-formed Winged “O” in 1968. He remains one of the hardest working members of the Winged “O” where he researches athletes for possible membership and spearheaded the recent replacement of the Winged “O” plaque which features the photos and years elected of each Winged “O” member.
Ron also served on the Club’s various committees before being selected to run for the Board of Directors, to which he was elected and on which he served five years before becoming Club President in 1979.
One of Ron’s major accomplishments was establishing the Outrigger Foundation. The Club’s athletic budget had been strained for years and with teams traveling to the outside island and all parts of the mainland more frequently, it became a serious problem. While fundraisers and donations helped, it was apparent that there was not enough money available. The teams often took to selling Portuguese sausage and sweet bread to raise the necessary funds.
After a great deal of thought, Ron came up with the idea of a tax-free foundation to help support the athletic program. It took several years and the help of several attorney-members to finally make it happen. Then in 1981, Ron, with the help of his wife and Bill Capp, wrote a fund-raising letter which was sent to over 1,000 members. They spent an entire weekend folding them, placing them in envelopes and sealing them: the effort brought in $23,000. By 1985, the Foundation had raised more than $100,000.
Ron was also involved in initial discussions leading to combining the Outrigger Foundation with the Duke Kahanamoku Foundation which supports Hawaii’s young men and women athletes and furthering their education; he also served as first chairman of the ODKF’s athletic grants committee.
Another of Ron’s accomplishments was making the International Professional Surfers Association a reality. Ron served as first commissioner of the IPSA, wrote the charter, created a ride-by-ride scoring system and spent a lot of time selling the concept to potential sponsors of events. The IPSA’s kickoff event was the 1970 Smirnoff which was won by Nat Young of Australia. Four plus decades later, professional surfing is still going strong thanks to Ron and others who nurtured it in its infancy.
Ron is a familiar face around the Club. Although he has given up his favorite sport as a back problem prevents his standing on a surfboard, he keeps in shape, working out three days a week in the Fitness Center and walking three days a week. His dedication to the Outrigger Canoe Club remains an important part of his life.
Ron passed away on February 25, 2021. He was a member for 75 years.
Board of Directors
1977 Assistant Secretary
1980 Coordinating Director Long Range Planning
Athletic Sponsors Committee
Fitness Center Committee
Outrigger Foundation Committee
Winged “O” Committee
OCC USAV National Championship Teams
1960 7th Place Men’s Open
1965 4th Place Men’s Open
1967 5th Place Men’s Open
1968 Men’s Open, Coach/Player
1968 2nd Place Masters Coach/Player, All American
1969 2nd Place Masters 35, Coach/Player, All American
1969 5th Place Men’s Open, Coach
1970 4th Place Masters 35, Coach/Player
1970 7th Place Men’s Open Coach
1971 3rd Place Masters 35 Coach/Player
1972 2nd Place Masters 35
1973 2nd Place Masters 35 Coach
1976 3rd Place Masters 35
1977 3rd Place Masters 35
1982 1st Place Masters 45
1983 3rd Place Masters 45
1984 5th Place Masters 45
1985 1st Place Masters 45 Coach
1986 2nd Place Masters 45 Coach/Player
1987 4th Place Masters 45 Coach/Player
OCC AAU National Championship Volleyball Team
1960 7th Place Men’s Open
1967 1st Place Men’s Open
1968 1st Place Men’s Open Coach
1969 2nd Place Men’s Open Coach
1969 4th Place Masters 35 Coach/Player All American
1972 3rd Place Men’s Senior
OCC Haili Volleyball Tournament Team
1984 1st Place Golden Masters
OCC Beach Volleyball
1950 1st Place Freshman 6 Tournament
1954 1st Men’s Open 6 Tournament
1954 1st Place Men Open 4 Tournament
1966 1st Place Men Open 4 Tournament
1950 1st Place Macfarlane Regatta, Senior Men
1957 1st Place Macfarlane Regatta, Senior Men 4
1957 1st Place, Oahu Championships Senior Men 4
1958 1st Place Oahu Championships, Senior Men
1984 1st Place Macfarlane Regatta, Makule