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 is available below the video.
An Interview by Marilyn Kali
February 17, 2017
MK: Good morning. Today is Friday, February 17th, 2017. We’re in the boardroom of the Outrigger Canoe Club. I’m Marilyn Kali, a member of the club’s Historical Committee. One of the Historical Committee’s projects is to do oral histories of our longtime members. Today it’s my pleasure to be talking with Dale Hope. Morning, Dale.
DH: Morning, Marilyn.
MK: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? When and where you were born and how your family got to Hawaii?
DH: Sure. I feel very lucky I was born here in Hawaii. My parents had a small cottage-like house down on Paoakalani Street in Waikiki a couple blocks from the ocean. We lived there for a couple years and went to the beach at Waikiki. My parents were members of the Outrigger and I spent a lot of time down there on that beach.
I feel very fortunate to have grown up down there where you could see the likes of the Woody Browns and the George Downings and the beach boys and the surfers and all the koa boats on the beach. It was a real impressionable time to see all that grandeur that’s really not there anymore in that aspect of such wonderful historical pieces that were just lined up on the beach, all these beautiful koa boats.
MK: The boats and the surfboards and not as many tourists or not as many hotels as today.
DH: Yeah. As a young kid, I used to just go back to the surfboard locker and look at all those boards and marvel at those big balsa tall boards and would look at every single one of them and go back and do it countless times.
MK: Were you a surfer boy?
DH: I surfed. I learned how to surf out there. Sure, I loved the water. It was hard to get me out of it.
MK: Do you have a favorite surf spot?
DH: Wherever the waves are good is my favorite, but I have lived a lot out in Kahala over the years with my parents and then on my own. I used to live in a little shack out there towards the hotel side of Kahala Beach. Out in front there, we used to keep our Hobie Cats and our canoe and there was a great little surf spot. I actually was out there this morning catching a couple waves and saw the sunrise. It’s like a cheap trip to Tahiti out there. It’s a beautiful sandy beach, clean, clear water and the coconut trees are just gorgeous the way they line the beach.
MK: You were part of the old club? You actually grew up down there in the old days?
MK: Do you have any memories of Duke Kahanamoku?
DH: Yes, I sure do. When Duke came into a room or you went into a room where he was, it was … things changed. He really got your attention. I never really got to know him, but I sure was a little guy in admiration of him. He looked like the big Hawaiian giant when you were little.
MK: Was he tall?
DH: Well, when you’re little, he was tall. He’s just such a statuesque person and I think Duke was always so well groomed. His hair was always in place and he was so fit. He wore the Outrigger shorts and when he was dressed up, he always wore a really nice pants and shirt, aloha shirts and long-sleeved shirts. Yeah, I think he was the epitome of what a gentleman was and certainly a Hawaiian gentleman. I don’t think anybody other than maybe a movie star that may have come in and out of the Outrigger at some time probably looked any better.
MK: Did you ever see him out surfing?
DH: Yep. In the old days in Waikiki.
MK: He was still catching waves at that age?
MK: And enjoying it. What kind of surfboards did you use back then?
DH: Oh, boy. The Outrigger had these pink boards that were made by Hobie. They had a little Hobie sticker on the back and they were pink.
MK: They were foam boards?
DH: Yeah, I believe so. There were a lot of wood boards and then right at that era when I started surfing, there was foam. I used to walk the beach at Kahala and pick up all the Coke bottles and 7UP bottles. You could take those up to the grocery store in the Kahala Mall, which was the Piggly Wiggly Market. You could turn them in for nickels and dimes if they were the big ones and then I saved enough to get $50 so I could buy my first surfboard.
MK: How much would surfboards cost back in those days?
DH: It was Bobby Daniels board with an interesting stringer than came down halfway through the board and then it split and veed off, which was unique. How much was a new board? Probably around $100.
MK: That was a lot of money at that time for a little kid.
DH: My mom’s first car was $100. She got a Chevy. I remember it was $100.
MK: Was that a used car?
DH: Yeah. A used car.
MK: Where did you go to school?
DH: I went to Punahou. First I went to Hanahauoli and then I went to Punahou. I went there from 1st grade to 10th grade. We were up in Carmel once and my mom and I drove through there and there was a school there. My mom said, “If you want, you could go to school here for a year.” I thought, “Well, that’d be fun.”
My friends Ricky and Mark Cross, sons of Jack Cross who used to be a member here, lived down there in Carmel. There was really fun surf and I thought, “Yeah, what a fun deal that would be to take a change of scenery and do something different.” I went to school there for a year and then returned to Punahou and graduated from there.
MK: What year did you graduate?
MK: Are there members that were in your class?
DH: Jeez … There were members, family members. The Gordon family, the Morgan family, the Ripperton family, a lot of people that were … Johnny King, Chucky Haneberg. They were all members long ago. George McPheeters, Dr. McPheeters were all classmates.
MK: Did you participate in any sports in high school?
DH: I was a tall skinny kid and dreamt about playing football. Fortunately, I was too skinny and ball sports aren’t my deal. I got kicked off those tryouts and no, I didn’t really do any sports at Punahou. I was more interested in surfing and canoe paddling.
MK: Those are good sports.
DH: That was before the high school sports too, where paddling became a sport, so we missed out.
MK: Where did you go to college?
DH: That’s an interesting one. I was at Punahou one day and there was a sign up on the wall that all these college announcements in my senior year. There was an announcement that there was a guy named Mike Holmes that was going to come and talk about a school. It could have been in Egypt, but it happened to be in Switzerland and I went, “Oh, man.”
I didn’t really want to go listen to the school part, I just wanted to go listen to Mike Holmes because he was an ocean guy and a canoe guy and somebody that I’d seen pictures of on the cover of Surfing Magazine at Longs Drugstore when I was a little guy. I just went, “Wow. I want to go listen to this guy.” So I went to the meeting and it was not the Mike Holmes that we all know. It was a different, more pudgy, white skinned, redhead, bearded Mike Holmes and he was talking about a school in Lugano, Switzerland.
I listened to him and I went, “That sounds pretty fun and pretty great. Maybe that would be a good idea.” I didn’t really give it much thought. My mom and I at that time were living in Pualei Circle and we were in #101 3030 Pualei and this Mike Holmes was in #201. When I would take out the garbage, he would see me and he would say, “Dale, get me your application. I’ll get it in for you and you can … We’ll get you into school.”
My grades weren’t the best. I was like, “Do I go to Cal Western and go with all my surfing friends or should I just try and see if I can do something different?” So I went to Switzerland, took a surfboard, sent a surfboard to France, and went and checked in in Lugano with the school. They took me up. You asked, “Where do you want to live? Do you want to live on your own? Do you want to live in an apartment? Do you want to live with other kids? Do you want to live with a family?” I just thought, “Why not live with a family?”
I got to school and they said, “Okay. We’ll take you up. You got the best family.” They took me way up the hill. It would be like living at the very back of Manoa and Outrigger would be kind of where the school was. It went all the way back there and there were these beautiful grounds with their own vineyard, their own fruit trees, fig trees, nut trees, their own chicken coop. It was just incredible. Husband, wife, elder couple. Skinny husband and he was cross-eyed.
You’d sit with him at dinner and you’d never know what he was doing, if he was looking at you or not because he was glassing. The mom was Italian and she was a big, rotund, happy, jolly lady. A fabulous cook. I would catch the bus to school. I finally got a bike and the next day, it snowed. I met some wonderful kids there. Most of them were from the East Coast and from very wealthy families.
There was a teacher there that thanks to the Outrigger Canoe Club … His name was Herb Stoddard and he was really good friends with Dave Rochlen, Pua’s father. Surf Line/Jams World Dave. He was from Malibu and I told him that I knew Dave Rochlen. He was like, “Oh, man.” Every weekend, he would take a Volkswagen bus. He’d put a sign up, take a Volkswagen bus and he’d go into Italy and take this small group of kids.
We’d go hike up into the mountains and we’d go into these churches. He’d explain all the frescoes to us about these people pouring these vessels and how that was the Tigris being flooded and all these stories. People were blind and they all had canes. It was just unbelievable. Then we’d go and we’d drive and we’d go through, wiggle through all these little streets and we’d go to these restaurants.
We’d eat for hours and it was just … I did it every weekend. It was fascinating. We’d go to Lake Como and go to Isola de Comacina and go out to the little island out there and learn all about the thousands of years old walls and old buildings. We’d come back in and eat trout and polenta and all these wonderful things. It was really an incredible experience.
MK: What languages did they speak?
DH: I lived with an Italian family and our whole area was all speaking Italian. I took Italian and by … when I first went to dinner for the first couple weeks, months, I had my little pocket Italian/English dictionary. There would be all these questions and we’d try and converse. All they’d do is tell me, “[Italian 00:12:43]”, which is “Eat, eat, eat”. There was fresh bread made from the baker up the street.
He’d come by in a little Toyota van and drop off a fresh loaf of bread every day. The mom would go out into the garden and pick fresh vegetables every night right about the time I was getting home from school and make fresh soup. They’d make polenta and then they’d cut it with a string and put in [Italian 00:13:07] cheese. I never ate so good in my life. They lost money on just how much food I ate.
They didn’t have any heat in their home and some nights, it got so cold. I’d be doing push ups and all kinds of things just to try and stay warm. I’d come home after school and the windows would be wide open and the comforter would be out airing in the windowsill and I’d just go, “No!” But it was a really great experience. Later on, I’d go skiing. I’d catch the train up to Bellinzona where Jimmy McMahon’s mother was from.
She tried to teach me Italian before I left, but I’d go to Bellinzona and then I’d go to Locarno. I’d catch the funicular and I’d go up and I’d go to this little resort that was like a bed and breakfast type of thing up in the mountains. I met the Italian people and they let me wash dishes and they would let me stay for free. I’d ski and try to learn how to ski. It was a really fun experience.
MK: Did you graduate from school there?
DH: No. I had all these trips where the school went to Russia. We went to Leningrad, Moscow, and all these … Novgorod and all these great places. I was on trains with Russian soldiers and at midnight, they asked me to come into their room with them. They were drinking vodka and eating chocolate. After awhile, they said, “You, me, no problem. My government, your government, problem.”
I didn’t know if I was going to come out of that room alive. These guys were all dressed in uniforms and they were tanking vodka and it was amazing. I had all these experiences. Tunisia, we went down there and we asked this guy once, “Hey, where’s couscous? Where can we get some couscous?” It was late in the afternoon. He looked at us and he went, “Follow me.” He took us home. He went to the edge of the desert and we went into this adobe-type house.
There was this woman with a red dot on her forehead and tattoos and these beautiful … She was wrapped up in all these fabrics with these sterling silver clasps that were really gorgeous. She was spinning yarn. He asked her if she would make us couscous. We ended up having a big huge bowl of couscous and then they invited us for dinner. They invited us back for dinner and then at night, they brought in the whole town, the whole little block came and they sang these real guttural songs and played a flute like a plumbing pipe.
It was just incredible. The experiences I had were unbelievable. I just felt that if I was to do it again, I’d be really taking advantage of my dad and plus, I think I was missing the ocean, so I wanted to come home. I came home and then my dad had this project where he wanted me to work at the Ala Wai Canal because he had bought the lease to the boat ride concession that was under the McCully bridge.
MK: I remember that.
DH: It was horrible. I just told him. He built a 31 foot, 25 passenger, 5 ton boat with electric motors and it was just a disaster. I was like, “Why would people want to ride in the sewer when you can be out on the ocean on a big, beautiful catamaran watching the whales and the dolphins and the sunsets?” I go, “This is a bad deal. You got to get out of this.” I ended up having to work there for about a year and I helped get him through that.
I had to go to the Coast Guard and get my boat operator’s license so that I could run that boat. I was hiring all these guys and paying them a lot of money to operate the boat when we had a tour. They were driving it into the bank on the side and they were hitting the dock at full speed. I could drive it better than they could, so I went and got my Coast Guard license and did it myself. We finally sold it to the Japanese.
Then I was going to go back to school and I thought, “Okay, now’s my time to go to school.” My father had this garment industry business and he just said, “No, I want you to come work for me.” I went, “Don’t you want me to go to school? I’ve gone to all these ‘Get ready for college’ schools. Now don’t you want me to go to school?” He goes, “No, I need your help.” I went to his company and he was selling ladies’ resort and missy, ladies’ wear predominantly.
He made some men’s shirts and he sold to all the resort shops, the Andrades and McInernys, the casual wears, Liberty Houses, all those stores and the Waikiki shops and the shops on the mainland in Florida and California. I said okay. About a week or 10 days into it, I said, “Hey, I can’t do this. I don’t know if these blue-haired ladies out there in the world really need this stuff or not. If you want, I’ll stick around and do men’s shirts, but I’ll try that.”
He went, “There’s no money in men’s shirts.” I go, “Dave Rochlen and Kahala and all those guys are doing it, so can’t I give that a try?” He said, “All right.” I just started making shirts and taking the cotton fabrics that he had under the cutting tables and putting them in this basic silhouette and going to the buyers. The Andrade buyer was super nice to me, David Yano, and walked me through the fit and the buttons he was using and the collars.
We changed everything and pretty soon, I finally started getting orders. I was paddling in those days for the Outrigger and he told me that if I got a new order, he’d take me to lunch, so I was burning thousands of calories starving, living on my own. We just started slow by slow and walked the staircase up and just kept growing and became a bonafide menswear garment source for men’s.
MK: You’ve had quite a career in that.
DH: Yeah, it’s been super fun. I’ve really enjoyed it.
MK: That has led to your passion for aloha shirts.
DH: Yeah. I didn’t really know it until my mom had passed away. She was from New York. It wasn’t really until I started asking some of her girlfriends that were from New York, “Hey, tell me about my mom.” When you’re young, you don’t really ask about what your parents’ history are. My mom had worked for a rayon company in New York. I went digging through photos and I found a picture of her with these guys in coats and ties at work. They had rayon fabrics hanging behind them and she was all dressed up. It was pretty special.
My dad was selling fabric to the industry and he got into it, so I really did come from two parents that were in the industry. I spent my summers as a teenager working in their factory. I’d do all kinds of odd jobs working behind different machines and probably botching up a lot of garments with these sharp types of machines that would trim all the loose threads. When the truck would show up from Japan with 15,000 or 20,000 yards of fabric and I’d have to break all those boxes and cases and bring all the fabric on my shoulders up to the cutting room, I paid my dues for a long time. I swore I’d probably never want to be in that industry.
MK: And what happened? You are. . .
DH: Yeah, I am, and I’ve loved it. It’s been a challenge, but it’s been fun. I really attribute a lot of it to Dave Rochlen. My dad did ladies’ things and when we were kids here running around in the Outrigger, Dave was real creative. He came from a real beach background and also a very intelligent background where he worked for the Rand Corporation working with intelligence. He was a mix of smart beach boy and he knew how to market. He would take all the real hot kids from around here and the surfers from the east side and the North Shore. He’d do these great photo shoots with them and just built a really great image and made great products that we all wore to school when we were teenagers. I remember wearing his shirts in 7th and 8th grade.
I think that’s what really helped me to realize that it could be different. My father’s company could. We had all the machines, we had everything Dave had, but he just was doing it differently. He was going to Easter Island for his inspiration and Tahiti for inspiration. Later, he traveled around the world and got inspiration especially from Japan.
My dad passed away when I was just a couple years into it and so I had to take over this company with all these employees. Mr. Von Hamm, Gunter Von Hamm, offered to take me to Japan and meet the artists and the trading companies and the printers and got me a lot deeper and entrenched into how to really go about creating wonderful textile designs and let us use the best artists. It was a really great opportunity.
MK: What came first, your aloha shirt collection or your book that you wrote about the aloha shirt?
DH: I don’t really call myself an aloha shirt collector because I’m humbled by the guys that are up on the mainland that have so many. I’ve always pigeonholed stuff. I’m a pack rat; I don’t throw anything away. I had a lot of shirts, but Tommy Holmes really is the one responsible for the idea of doing a book. I think I always thought about it. A smaller book, 100 page book was done by Tommy Steele in maybe the late 70s or 80s.
We helped host him when he came to Hawaii. He was a super great guy who was a graphic artist with Capitol Records and did a lot of record album covers. He did a great little book and it was really fun. Tommy Holmes came to me one day and he had quite a collection of vintage Hawaiian shirts. He pretty much wore one every day.
He came and said, “Hey, Hopeless, Hopeless, Hopeless, I want to do a book on aloha shirts. Can you write down what I should … You know more about this than I do. Can you give me the chapterization and can you tell me all the people I need to go interview?” I said, “Sure. Give me a little time. I’ll get it to you.” I wrote it all down for him and told him all the people he should see. I thought how it could go.
He looked at it and read and said, “You know more about this than I’ll ever know. We’re going to do this together. It’s going to be a book by Hope and Holmes.” So two sunburned bachelors went running around to all the likely subjects here in Honolulu, Twigg, Mr. Twigg-Smith, Rick Ralston, all these artistic guys that we thought maybe would love to sponsor our aloha shirt book and not a one did. We had no luck. Rick Ralston said, “No, there’s no money in books.” Twigg said, “Yeah, when you get a little further along, let me know.” We were asking for over $100,000 because that’s what it would have taken. We wanted to shoot it dramatically with Linny Morris Cunningham so that the shirts had a lot of drape and shadows and wanted to do it really amazingly well. Tommy was paddling with his Anuenue Canoe Club one night and he had a heart attack. They rushed him in and took him up to Queens and he didn’t make it.
He was working with college professors that were working on a $30 million dollar project on the Big Island with sustainability. He was working on a book on volcanoes, one on Diamond Head, and he was doing so many things. After he’d passed away, we had this support group that would meet with all the gals that weren’t his romantic gals. They were all his busy bees that would do a lot of his work and do a lot of his organization and sorting. We’d have these meetings every couple months and they’d go, “Okay, Dale, how’s the aloha shirt book coming?” I’d go, “Yeah, yeah. I’m working on it.” I was a creative, I had owned my company in those days, and there was just no way I could break away. This went on for years. I even went and talked to Rell Sunn and she was so eloquent. She loved vintage aloha dresses and shirts and furniture.
She was such a great writer and such a smart woman and just magnificent. I asked her if she would help me and when she had her cancer, I thought, “She’s kind of grounded. Maybe she can help us and get it going.” I gave her a bunch of money and whenever she was sick, she really was too sick to do anything. Whenever she felt a little good, she was out surfing or canoeing or fishing, so she didn’t really do anything. I was like, “There’s nobody really else that gets it.”
By then, I’d sold my company. I was working for our company as our creative director. We were owned by the Japanese and I just went to them and said, “I’m going to take a year off. I’m going to work on a book.” The Japanese owner heard about this and he came to me and he said, “So you going surfing for a year?” I said, “No, no, no. I’m going to work on a book.” I’d been working on it a bit and would come down here, paddle one man’s in the morning, watch the sunrise and then go home and spend the whole day and night working.
I got invited to go to Australia to go down to Hamilton and paddle down there in those races. I came home and then Mike Spalding called me and said he was sailing on the Big Island and wanted me to come sailing with him, so then I went sailing. It was like, “God, am I ever going to do this book?” I just got home and I said, “Okay, I’m not doing anything else but this book.” I worked on it for pretty much 11 months straight and did a lot of interviews.
Having grown up in the industry and grown up with all these Japanese dedicated seamstresses that had been with my father for 30 years, caught the bus in from Aiea, worked hard behind a sewing machine. I had a lot of compassion for them and then I’d gotten to spend a lot of time with artists. I thought they were a really good story. The retailers were a real important part of it.
I really tried to tell the story of all the people that were behind the aloha shirt, not just the owners because they get all the credit all the time. They’re super important because without them, you wouldn’t have had these businesses because they had the guts to get buildings and buy machines and put this all together in the days before we really had communication. If you wanted a new part for a sewing machine, you had to send a letter to New York and it’d wind up taking three weeks. Today we can get it probably in three days.
I wanted to tell everybody’s story and tell the story about the button people, the label people who made the labels, and how everything came about. It was a great project and I got to interview incredible people. Some days I’d go, “Okay.” My dad had given me a button card, a really beautiful little artistic card with these buttons, six buttons sewn on it made by John Aoya.
Okay, I went up to University of Hawaii library, looked up John Aoya in the 50s phone book, found out they were on Democrat Street. Went there, went to their address, 1771 or whatever it was, and it was an asphalt car lot. I went next door and asked the secretary if she could maybe tell me anything about the people that had that car lot and the people that made the buttons. The guy behind the desk in the back, the owner of the company, he was selling used tires. He go, “Hey, what do you need?” I go, “I’m working. I’m trying to find the John Aoya family.” “What school did you go to?” I go, “I went to Punahou, but I live in Palolo. Does that cancel me out and make me all right?” “Come here. What are you doing?” I tell him. He goes, “Oh. Go to the next street. Republican. Go in the back. Maybe you find the guy.”
I go in the back, find this old plantation house, go in the back, and here’s these Japanese guys. I walk in and I felt like I was selling Bibles. I just went, “Excuse me, but I’m looking for the John Aoya family. Anybody know of the John Aoya family?” The guy goes, “That’s me.” That was the son of John. He told me all about his father’s business making coconut buttons. I used to ride my bike up Tantalus a lot and do a lot of thinking.
I thought, “I had these pictures from the Hawaii Archives that showed buttons being made that were taken in 1937. How many button makers could there have been?” I called up my new friend Ernest and I said, “Hey, Ernest.” Oh, I know what I did. I mailed the pictures to Ernest and I said, “Do these look familiar to you?” One day he called me back and he goes, “Hey, Dale, where you get these pictures? That guy husking the coconuts?” The guy was old. “Ask my grandfather. My mother never once see these pictures.”
I even learned more about the coconut buttons. I had dozens of stories like that that really made up the book. Had I done it 10 years earlier, I probably would have had even more wonderful stories, but if I had done it 10 years later, I would have had pretty much zero. I was really fortuitous in that I caught a lot of these guys who were really a part of it or their families were and I could get their stories.
MK: Now you’ve revised the book and you’re coming out with a new one?
DH: The book came out in 2000 and we had a great run with it. I went to work for Patagonia for a few years and helped them with their Pataloha division, which was started by Rell. Kahala was purchased by Tori Richards and they asked me to come back so I went back and worked there for awhile. Then I just went on my own and was doing freelance work. Patagonia called me up one day and said, “We want to do your book and republish it.” They sent Jeff Devine over to be the photo curator who was the photo editor at Surfer Magazine for a number of years and then with Surfer’s Journal. He came over and spent a week with me and we just went through all my archives.
We went to the Bishop Museum and we went all over town. We added 150 pages to the book, changed the format substantially, so it’s really a brand new book. What’s really fun is when the first book came out, if you were 10 years old, now you’re 25 and all these younger guys are interested in it. They’re all fascinated and they’re keenly interested in learning about it, which has been fun.
MK: Is it finished now?
DH: Oh yeah, no, it’s out. It’s in the stores. It’s been out a little bit.
MK: Wonderful. I understand you’re going to do a stew and rice presentation for the Club coming up soon.
DH: Yeah, that’s right. That’s coming up.
MK: Yeah. Wonderful. How old were you when you actually joined the Outrigger Canoe Club?
DH: I think I was 11.
MK: That was back in ’64?
MK: That was just about the time the Club moved to this site that we’re on now.
MK: Do you have any fond memories of the old Club site that you’d like to share?
DH: I remember going into the old Club. In those days, you were met by Auntie Eva. I think she was everybody’s Auntie and warm and welcoming and supportive and watched out after you. She made you feel like you were the only person at that Outrigger. She was so special. You came in and you went down and there were the volleyball courts. You went off down the stairs and off to the left and there was a little snack bar and a grass area. You could go further and there was the big building.
You’d go through underneath the little tunnel and you’d be out there on the beach. Underneath was the canoe storage and Ah Buck would be in there always working on canoes and surfboards, wooden surfboards. I remember him giving me some foam and shaping a little surfboard and getting some resin from him and glassing it and spending time down there hanging out with a lot of those kind of guys. You’d go upstairs and on Sunday nights, my parents would go there a lot for the Sunday buffet. Our favorite waiter was this guy named Mac. I think he was a Filipino guy who had a great personality, a great character. It was an incredible place.
MK: Was that Maxi?
DH: No. Mac.
DH: Yeah. Really a great spirited guy. It was just a wonderful place. We were down there in Waikiki. I remember the concern and disdain about having to leave that wonderful, beautiful beach with all the koa boats on the beach, the surf, all the great surf spots and just leaving Waikiki. In those days, Kalakaua was a two-way street with parking on both sides. We were going to move to this place so far away from all the action.
Everybody was doubting the move and I remember a lot of old-timers were not happy. Some of the senior members, older members were quitting, but then we moved up here. This facility was great and grand and fabulous and offered so much. There was surf out here. I think it quickly became a new great spot and it was away from all the tourists and it was a wonderful deal.
MK: Do you remember who your sponsor was for the Club?
DH: I was trying to think about that. It could have been Gordon Bradley. The Bradleys lived next door to us when we were small. I grew up with their … (coughs)
DH: It could have been Gordon Bradley. My sponsor. I don’t remember my second sponsor.
MK: Okay. When you joined officially, we were, of course, here at that point. You enjoyed surfing and did you compete or were you just enjoying it for recreation?
DH: I ran with a pack of contemporaries that were really good surfers.
MK: Who was that?
DH: We had Rusty Starr and Tommy Winkler. They were probably the two best surfers at their age group in the state. Tommy lived down at Tonggs and we would surf a lot down at Tonggs and we’d hang out down at Tonggs a lot. We’d come back and forth from here to there. We’d come down and eat here and go back to Tonggs. It was the daily deal that we had.
There was just all these great guys that were our contemporaries that were surfing. In those days, the Outrigger was really supportive of surfing. They would pay your entries and they would take us to contests in Waikiki, the Waikiki Surf Club contest and contests out at Makaha. They’d drive you out there and pay your entries and wear Outrigger jerseys.
I never really surfed that well. Tommy and Rusty were winning everything and Donnie Mailer later became a member. He was a phenomenal surfer. I did take to canoe paddling and I fell in love more with canoe paddling. Still surf, but paddling was where I competed more. I was so fortunate that Keone Downing was also learning or paddling in those days, too and so George Downing was our coach.
I think we were so phenomenally lucky to be able to have George be our coach, teach us the fundamentals, teach us the respect of the boat and just of the sport and just respect in life in general. He was such a phenomenal, philosophical man. He really got our crew to paddle well and we had a very successful 13s, 14s, 16s crew.
MK: As I recall, you were state champions for three years in a row.
DH: I don’t think we knew what it was to lose. I’d get more nervous before every race and I’d have butterflies in my stomach and it was just … couldn’t sleep at night the night before. We’d come down and we had great people and great guys and phenomenal coaching. It was really fun. It was really special.
MK: Who were the people on your crew back then?
DH: We had Skipper Barnes, Mark Teele, Johnny King, a guy named Blackburn. George McPheeters did a lot of steering and Keone Downing, Chucky Haneberg. We were just so lucky that the coaching could not have been any better for us.
MK: So you moved up the ladder from the youth crews, the junior crews, to the open crews.
DH: Yeah. I remember in the summertime, Keone and I, we had a plan that after a state’s race in Nawiliwili Harbor, we were going to bring our surfboards and then we were going to go look for surf after the race. We hitchhiked over to the west side to Poipu and there were no waves. I told Keone, “Hey, I was at the Outrigger the other day and I saw a gal I was in 1st grade with and she said she was going to be at Hanalei and with another family.”
We had to go over there and see if we could stay with them. We hitchhiked over to Hanalei and we went down by the Hanalei Pier in the summertime and there was no surf. We had our surfboards and whatever our surf trunks and t-shirts were in those days. We started walking down the beach and we ran into that family and “What are you guys doing here? Where are you staying?” We ended up staying there I think about eight days.
It was with Peggy Fyah Morgan and they had a house in the middle of the bay that was a family house. It was one of my most memorable fun times. Peggy was great. She would take us to Waimea River and we’d go up the river. She’d drop us off with inner tubes and we’d come down and then we’d go pick guavas and make guava jelly. We just had guava fights and we just had so much fun. Every day was a walk in the hills and playing in the water and just doing all kinds of things that we’d never ever done before.
MK: There were several Morgan girls, weren’t there?
DH: There was Gail Morgan, there was Karen Morgan, and Margaret Morgan. They were older and then there was Brewster, Brew boy, who was the younger son. He was a character, just a full-on character. Keone and I, we came back and we walked down into the Outrigger. They were training for a Pokai Bay canoe race and they told us “If you guys want to paddle, you can paddle.”
We maybe paddled two nights and then we raced to Pokai Bay from Waikiki. All the older guys said, “We’ll see you on the beach. Have fun, boys.” We had this makeshift crew of all the derelicts. We had Albert Lemes as our coach who was like a Hitler. He yelled at us for six solid hours and we ended up winning the race. I think that was my first distance race as a teenager and then did a lot of them after that.
MK: What age teenager?
DH: I don’t think we could have been much older than 16.
MK: Yeah, because they didn’t used to let anybody under 18 do distance.
MK: That was before they had rules, I guess.
DH: Yeah, before litigiousness got into the world. There were races from Lanikai to Waikiki too back in those days that were sort of similar.
MK: Like the Duke races?
DH: Yeah. I never made those teams, but I often went on as a helper and got to watch the older guys paddling. It was my first experience to watch Marshall Rosa paddle. That was pretty impressionable.
MK: You did a lot more distance races and you were a Molokai champion several times.
DH: Yes. We paddled in ’78 and I think we got fifth and then we were really lucky in that we had Tommy Connors who became our coach and built a boat called the Mana Ula and through the HCRA was able to get it approved. It was a real fast boat. It was decisively faster.
MK: That was the first fiberglass boat that we used in the Molokai race.
DH: I think so. Yeah. It was like being on a Hobie 14, but having a jib. When we made changes, that boat, I think we had to slow down a little bit to let the guys come in because it was really, really fast. We had Steve Scott steering and Tommy steering and we’d come in all the way across the channel. This is worth telling because it was an amazing moment. We got off of Black Point and the California crew was out, further out and ahead of us. Marshall Rosa was our escort and we were trailing.
I got stung by a man-o-war and I couldn’t … I was in five seat next to Steve and I say, “Steve, you got to get me out of here. I can’t feel my hand and it’s going into my heart.” We pulled a change and I came out. I went into the boat and Jeff Kissell gave me some pills. I don’t know what they were, I don’t know if he knew what they were, and they gave me about ten minutes and said, “Okay, you got to go back in and you’re going to stroke.”
I’m like, “Oh, boy.” What Marshall did was he went way wide. He got the big boat. I think it was Lawrey Dowsett with a big sampan and he had him go way out to sea. The California boat that was up front, they went way out to cover us and then I went in to stroke and Tommy Connors went in to steer. Tommy just took that boat that we’d been going like this back and forth for a long time. Tommy just took it and took us and we started surfing. We just started catching wave after wave. Dolphins came up by our sides and it was the most incredible moment. We just went like that. By the time we got to Suicides, I came out and we were ahead. It was an amazing ten minutes.
MK: Do you remember what year that one was?
DH: That was maybe ’81. I forget. I’d have to really go back and look and see who was on the crews and all that. It was just probably one of the most magic moments that I’d ever had in canoe paddling. It really is attributed to Marshall and his gamesmanship that he was able to suggest and it worked. It’s all fair in love and war.
MK: The Mana Ula was the boat that Tommy made to compete against the Tahitians after the Tahitians had wiped us all out in the year before. Evidently, it fulfilled its promise.
DH: Yeah, it was super fast. Tommy was amazing. As a coach, you never knew what he was thinking and I was one of the skinniest guys on the crew. There was all these bigger, stronger guys and I learned really quickly that you just don’t ask any questions. If he tells you “This is where we’re going”, you don’t ask him where or for how long, you just go. He’d find out who the weak links were. “Where are we going? How far are we going? When are we going to turn around?”
You didn’t want to do that because then he’d realize that if it got hairy, you were going to be the guy that cracked. I just would put my head down and just do whatever he asked and not say a word. He was a man of very few words, but boy, was he sharp. We were so lucky to have him, an in-house boat designer. When it first went for specs, it didn’t pass, so he just got the boat up, put it in the garage, put some Bondo on it and kept beefing it up to make it worthy of what they wanted it to be. He was an incredible individual. In those days, we weren’t paddling with T-tops. They were all …
MK: Open. . .
DH: Just paddles. No T-tops on our paddles. That was awhile ago.
MK: He (Tommy Conner) was another one who was lost too soon.
DH: Oh, way too soon.
MK: That’s so sad.
DH: Yeah. I feel very lucky that I had that opportunity to paddle with him.
MK: Did you go up into master’s paddling?
DH: No. Back in those days, my dear friend Tommy Holmes was really keen on racing one man canoes before really one man canoes had been invented. He got me into this one man canoe race. That was in ’79 and ’80. Joe Quigg built him a little sort of one man canoe and then Tommy talked me into paddling Joe’s two man canoe, a 180 pound boat that he’d made to take to Micronesia when his wife was doing librarian work there.
He had this beautiful canoe called the Nanea. Tommy said, “You can just use that.” I was paddling and training for it and then we sent the Nanea, a 31 foot boat, over to Molokai. Cline was my escort with Kimo Dowsett and Joe came and those poor guys. They had to go on the escort boat for nine hours it took me to cross the channel by myself. We got west wind and we rigged a paddle and two seats that would act like a lee board because I was just drifting. I’d take two strokes this way or I’d take 30 strokes this way and two here and I would just go and weather vane into the wind. It finally made it. The next year, Joe built us these more paddleboard-like boats that you could sit on top with pole vault poles for ‘iako and these beautiful little foam ama. It was down to the last minute and we never really figured out the seat.
When I did that, it was really tippy and I had to lean on the ‘iako too much and I threw my back out. After that race, I kind of stopped paddling because my back went really bad on me. I got a little better so I just started sailing Hobie Cats and changed it up and sailed for a long time and raced Hobies. I got into paddleboarding and just did different things.
MK: I’d like to talk a little bit about the paddleboarding because that seems to have been something that you’ve been involved with for many, many years. I know you were chairman of the first Paddleboard Committee that the Outrigger had. It was a committee of two for many years. You and Cline [Mann}.
MK: How did you get involved in paddleboarding?
DH: I think when I was away, I’d seen those paddleboards. Cline had two paddleboards. They were made for a relay race that went from Lanai to Maui and they were balsa. They were 14 feet long and they weighed about 38, 40 lbs. They were gorgeous. They were beautiful works of art. Museum pieces today. When I was away at school, I just fantasized what it would be like to take those paddleboards and go on long paddles.
I used to see guys, older guys here like Ricky Steere and he’d have the paddleboards. He always came in with the biggest smile on his face. He was always really upbeat about … He just had a great aura about him when he had his paddleboard. I was like, “Wow, that must be fun.” I asked Cline if he would take me to Portlock and drop me off and I could paddle back. He didn’t really like the idea.
MK: How old were you when you started?
DH: I think I was in my early 20s. Cline used to have a little Datsun station wagon and we’d load up in the dark the paddleboard and a Thermos of coffee. He would take me out to Portlock and we’d go to the little turnaround there. We’d go down the cliffs and he had his flashlight and he’d shine it. I’d put the board in the water and it would take me about an hour and 40 minutes (to paddle back to the Club).
His rules were that when I got in at the Snack bar, I had to call Austin, Tsutsumi & Associates where he worked as a surveyor and let him know I’d made it back. I was doing that quite a bit and he just said, “I want you to go with other people.” He got Brant Ackerman and Donnie Mailer and different guys that were interested in paddleboarding in those days.
The big deal then, the race that was really the only race was the Christmas Day race. That was put on by Waikiki Surf Club and they took a break on Christmas from the Makaha Surf Meet and they would have a paddleboard race in Waikiki out to the Diamond Head Buoy and back. George Downing had held the record. Joe Quigg had been very, very fast in that, too.
I think when George held the record on a really calm malia day, I think they used to run the race earlier. The story I heard was that they then ran the race at 10:00 so that it would be windy, so that the record would have a harder time being broken. That was the first races that we were doing. My mom hated it because it disrupted her Christmas and the whole thing. I was out of favor at home.
I think Cline and I just came up with the idea of “Why don’t we have some races here at the Outrigger?” We started a 10K race I believe was our first race that we may have done. That was out to a mark by Rice Bowl and then down into the Wreck Buoy and then back here. We did that for quite a few years and we would meet at my little shack out in Kahala and we would hand address all the envelopes to all the paddleboarders in those days.
Our goal was to really make this an event for the outside, our members and people on the outside that were interested in paddleboarding. We did not want to charge a fee. Cline was really a big proponent on “This is the Outrigger’s time to host outsiders and to show them that the Outrigger is a real wonderful place.” That we’re not these stuck up haoles here in this beautiful place that we would give and give and give and give some more.
We printed up t-shirts. Nicky Black would do the art for us often and we would take Nicky’s drawings and he would do them like John Kelly did. We’d have these beautiful prints and then we had a guy make koa frames and we’d give those out for awards. We always tried to do something different. We gave a t-shirt, we had beautiful awards, we fed everybody and then it was customary in those days to join Cline in Cline’s corner and have a beer with him for several hours after the race.
It was a great deal. In this room (Boardroom), Cline felt that it was really necessary that we establish some rules for the boards. He had the surfboard makers, George Downing and Joe Quigg and Donnie Mailer, come and all the paddlers. We sat in here and we said, “Okay, what would be a fair board that everybody could afford?” Cline was very worried that the real wealthy guy could make some board out of exotic materials and come in and it could be light and it would have an advantage. He wanted to have an equal playing field for the boards.
They came up with a rule that it’d be 12 feet, no mechanical rudder. That went out to the paddleboard community and George Downing was able to work with some California guys. He got 15 boards made and you could call the Downings up and reserve a board, go up and use it and race it and bring it back and it was free. Joe Quigg started getting orders for his boards and he would hand shape them and make them.
They were great, so you had this rivalry still going between George and Joe just like the old days when they had made their balsa hollow 20-something foot boards and were racing these boards up to the Diamond Head Buoy. That really helped the sport grow because then there was more boards and more equipment out there and it was available. There was a young member here, short guy, phenomenal surfer named Bret Goodfriend. Bret won every race. I do recall that Brett, you’d see Brett in the morning in the snack bar drinking a cup of coffee.
He had a great little fire hydrant physique and he was very strong and muscular. He would beat everybody. I went to Cline and I said, “Hey, Cline. I don’t know, but I think we need to change it up a bit and see if we can have a race where maybe Bret won’t win so that we can give somebody else a chance. Why don’t we do a race through the surf? Why don’t we do three laps around a buoy and maybe someone else will get lucky and we can break this Bret streak.”
We did a surf race and Bret still won. We kept going and then Chris Moore came along. If he was on a paddleboard, nobody had a chance. That guy is like the Mark Spitz of paddleboarding. He’s just a bullet. He would paddle as frantic with his hands and then he’d always have one foot kicking the water, too. I don’t know if it did any good, but he sure was fast.
We had the Napoleons come and they were always late. They would call down to the Outrigger, get out to the beach desk, ask for Uncle Cline. “Uncle Cline, we’re on our way.” Uncle Cline would hold the race. “Oh, we got to wait. We can’t start yet.” Nappy would show up with his young little Hawaiian wiry kids and Aaron Napoleon and his brothers would come and sometimes they’d win the race.
We had the guys from the North Shore, Charlie Walker and some of these just great … Dennis Pang and Mike Takahashi and George Ramos. We really were hosting a race that I think was well liked by a huge community. Guys even from Maui were coming over, so it was quite a sport back in those days.
MK: It truly was. We talked a little bit about the Christmas race. Didn’t Outrigger take over the Christmas race for awhile?
DH: Yes, they did. I think the transition went something like it went from a Waikiki Surf sponsored race to the Outrigger saying they didn’t have a budget for it when it came up kind of quick. Cline went to an insurance company downtown, got some money to be able to afford to buy trophies, and had trophies made with whatever that insurance company’s name was. If I’m not mistaken, it might have been run out of the Kaimana Beach, I believe, which was closer to the Outrigger.
MK: We sponsored it for a couple of years, anyway.
DH: Then after that, then that’s maybe when the Paddleboard Committee started such that we could be a bonafide sponsor. I remember us getting a lot of heat from some of the older members that we were giving away t-shirts and giving away lunch and doing all these things that Cline was such a big proponent on. We were getting criticized for letting the Outrigger be generous and sharing and sharing aloha and Cline’s style.
I think maybe that was when the whole thing started with a Paddleboard Committee. In those days, it was great because for sign in, check in, we had Aggie Quigg and Baby Cross and all these wonderful great supporters that would be there to help back up Cline to take people’s entries and do that whole deal. It was really a fun family operation back in those days.
MK: It seems like in the 80s, we really reached a large number of people and then somehow it seemed to start … When the winter 10K races, remember when they added the paddleboard race and we had a paddleboard and an OC-1.
DH: One man. Yeah.
MK: It seems like the last few years of that, we didn’t have any paddleboarders anymore.
DH: Yeah. I think it did change and then we changed the date so it wouldn’t be on Christmas. I think we lost a lot of people who had family. We tried to move it up, but then we tried to keep it close so that the kids that were coming home from college could race. For awhile, it waned and then all these guys on the North Shore and guys on Maui, they started building paddleboards that were under 20 pounds.
I think part of the problem was Cline wanted to stick with the 20 pound rule. These other boards were being made economically, efficiently. They didn’t cost really any more; they could be made and they could be made at 12 pounds. Like Joe Quigg used to say, you can throw a rock so far that’s this big and one this big and one that big, you can always throw rocks at different distances. He equated it to the weight of a board. A little rock, you can’t really throw it that far. A medium rock you can and a huge rock, you can’t.
It worked with paddleboards. Some of them if they got to 8 pounds, they didn’t really work that well, but 12 to 15 pounds depending on who the guy seemed to be able to move better. Cline was really tough on the rules and he didn’t want to budge. I think that’s why we lost some people. We weren’t getting the crowds that we had. I had to go to Cline and say, “Cline, let’s relax the rules. We’re not getting all these guys. We’re losing them. They don’t want to come to our race anymore.”
He said, “What about all the records?” I said, “Cline, it doesn’t matter. We’re all for progress. We’ve got to progress with this sport.” He goes, “Yeah, but I worry you have a record and your record will be broken.” I go, “Cline, I don’t care if my record’s broken. It’s fine. In the interest of the sport, we want to encourage everybody to come and let’s just get rid of the weight rule.”
So we did and I think then, there were a lot of guys, even the Jerry Lopez’s of the surfing world who lived on Maui, he was paddleboarding and you got all of these different guys paddleboarding. The Laird Hamiltons were paddleboarding and doing races from Catalina to California and they were in the Surfer’s Journal. Surfer’s Journal did an article on paddleboarding.
It really boosted the sport and then the, I think, momentum really got strong again and people came. The early boards that George Downing had made and the boards that Joe Quigg had made, all of a sudden, dinosaurs and there were these new guys making these newer boards. They had great shapes and it was another generation and wave of paddleboards, boarders, that came. The whole sport changed again and it became really popular.
MK: I know the Outrigger has done a lot to try to get the younger kids involved. There’s a group now of young men who are winning all the paddleboard races. Are you watching any of these to see if they’re coming up in …
DH: No, I’m pretty well aware of it. I think that really at the Outrigger, I think they’ve, as the Outrigger goes, I think they’ve dropped the ball on encouraging paddleboarding. People like Chris Laird has brought the paddleboard into his canoe crew that he’s teaching where he’s coaching his son. He has the paddleboard as being part of their workout, so that that’s being introduced to them and then Alan Pflueger with his son is really bringing the paddleboard in, but it’s not really Outrigger-driven. It’s more Alan-driven and his younger group of guys.
He came to the Outrigger and asked if they would help support him and let him use some of the equipment here for this young group of boys and they turned him down. Now Alan is at Hui Nalu with a lot of Club members including our new president’s son is paddling at Hui Nalu getting this great regime of paddleboarding and canoe paddling and paddling on the ultralight canoes. Alan’s dream is to be able to have a crew win Molokai and be able to stand up against the Tahitians. He’s bringing in coaching and some of the best guys on the water to help coach his young guys.
MK: This is for canoe racing, though.
DH: For canoe racing, but they’re also very fast in racing in paddleboards, too.
MK: Some of those kids though I’ve watched since they were 10 or 12 years old. When they have their summer surf race, they have a junior clinic for paddleboards. All these kids kind of seem to get their start with that.
DH: But that’s it. They don’t do that-
MK: But there’s no follow-up for that anymore.
MK: It’s (paddleboarding) certainly a nice sport and one that I enjoyed for many years.
DH: I was able to, in my 30s or whatever it was, 40s, we were able to race from Molokai to Oahu in the Molokai Oahu Paddleboard Race. I did that with Charlie Walker, I did it with Todd Bradley, and I did it with Kenny Bailey.
MK: As a relay?
DH: Yeah, which was really, really fun.
MK: That’s a long way.
DH: Yeah, as a relay, though. As older guys, it was doable and it was really fun. Fantastic.
MK: Some guys do it solo.
DH: Oh, a lot of guys do it solo. Yeah.
MK: That’s just amazing. Their times are good, too.
DH: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
MK: They’re moving really fast. We used to think that swimming from Molokai was a big deal and now they’re doing it in every sport. All of the water sports have Molokai races these days.
DH: Swimming from Molokai is a big deal.
MK: Yeah. Have you done that?
DH: No, but I’ve escorted on it and it’s a big deal. Really big.
MK: Yeah, it’s a long way. We had named races after Cline Mann much to his disapproval because it happened when he was still alive.
MK: Were you involved in that?
DH: I think that Karl Heyer (IV) really came up with that concept. I think he was maybe the paddleboard chairman at the time and I think that was his idea to name the race after Cline before Cline’s time. That was great. Awesome.
MK: We had so many people turn out just to honor Cline.
MK: During those races.
DH: Yeah. Cline would start the race and he had a little Timex watch. He had his recorders and he would go like that when you crossed the finish line. He was amazing.
MK: He thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of it.
DH: He did.
MK: I understand you have a vintage collection of paddleboards?
DH: I don’t know who you heard that from, but yeah. I’ve got a lot of Joe Quigg’s boards under our house and I’ve got a couple different paddleboards that are … had a lot of miles on them.
MK: You’re still enjoying the sport?
DH: I don’t race too much anymore, but I still paddleboard and still go up to Diamond Head. I just don’t go as far, but I still love it.
MK: You also were very involved in the Club sailing program for many years.
DH: Yeah, the sailing program back then, again, thanks to Cline and guys like Mike Holmes and Tom Reiner and some of these really great old names that were in our past. Outrigger used to have Sunfish and Scorpions here and they were available to members to go out and use. They had a youth program where they would teach you how to sail and let you go out and crash and burn and learn.
You’re breaking masts and spars and ripping sails and getting tangled up in the reef, but once you got the feel of it, then there were races up to the Diamond Head Buoy. You really learned how to sail and it was super fun when you got around the buoy and you had to do this jibe around the buoy and then sail back. You’re surfing and planing and catching waves and then you had to figure out how to get back in when the wind was out of the north and to come in the channel.
Cline had his own little secret little passages that he could go through. You just got all the respect in the world for these guys that knew what they were doing. It was a really awesome time. We spent a lot of time racing up to the Diamond Head Buoy, come back, have a beer, talk about it all, go have another race, talk about it all, have another beer, go talk about it all, and go have another race.
Some of the nights where the moon was going to be full and it was perfect, Cline would just say, “Let’s sail to Waikiki and go listen to Peter Moon.” He’d call down to the Prow Lounge at the Sheraton and get a hold of Peter Moon and tell him that we were coming down. We’d sail our boats and in those days, some Hobie Cats too and Sunfishes and we’d load up with all kinds of fun people and crystal clear water and full moon nights and you could see the bottom.
It was all the light in the world that you needed and we’d go down there and pull up our boats on the beach and we’d tie up to the wall. In those days, there was sand. You could pull your boat up. Peter Moon and the Sunday Manoa. Robert and Roland Cazimero would open up the windows of the Prow Lounge that faced the ocean and they’d start their concert with their butts to the audience playing to Cline. It was memorable. We’d bring our own beers down there and we had these little swinger coolers. We’d sit on the wall and listen to them play music and then we’d sail back and the full moon, it was just a super wonderful time. Very memorable.
MK: Those were good days. Were you involved in the Hobie Cat sailing?
MK: And that regatta? The world championships that were held here?
DH: With Hobie Cats, there was a tough situation because Cline was such a proponent of the Scorpion and he was never going to sail a Hobie Cat. So what happened was Cline went to Guam. Cline would never leave Honolulu, but he had to go to Guam for a surveying job. One day, Mike Holmes grabbed me and took me on his Hobie Cat and said, “Come on, we’re going to go sailing on this Hobie.” I was like, “Whoa.”
To me, that Hobie Cat looked like a 40 foot catamaran like Woody Brown had down in Waikiki. You’d look up at this big tall mast and this big huge sail and it was so much bigger than the Scorpion. Mike sailed me down into Waikiki and then he brought me back. Right at the windsock, he jumped off and he said, “It’s all yours. Figure it out.” After that, I was hooked. I ended up buying a Hobie Cat from Bob Anderson and I started sailing and then in those days, after work when my dad was still alive, I could leave at 4:00 and Holmesy and I would hook up and we’d sail every day. It was just unbelievable.
I wasn’t good enough to race when we had the great Pam Am races out here, but Cline had us … I think he was part of the Commodore Committee. We were on the escort boat and we got to watch the races pretty close. I remember Leith Anderson winning quite a bit. His sail number was 414 and he was just an unbelievable speedy fast tactical sailor. Unbelievable athlete. He was older than a lot of those other fellow sailors, but Mike sailed and guys like Wayne Schafer that helped develop the Hobie Cat came from California and Hobie came. The beach was full of Hobie Cats and it was unbelievable. It was a great era.
MK: I hear that from a lot of people, that those were really wonderful days with all the sailboats around and the water was full of them out in front.
DH: Yeah, there were probably 50 Hobies out on the lines out here on the cables. Unfortunately, Hurricane Iwa and Iniki I think pretty much took them all out. After those two hurricanes, they were pretty much all destroyed and then slowly, the sport became windsurfing and a lot of people stopped sailing Hobies and they got into windsurfing. Slowly, canoes started parking out here and people just had their own little four man surfing canoes and then slowly, sailing canoes started coming in here.
I’ve been really a big proponent of trying to revive the sailing aspect of it with the people that do have sailing canoes out here. Don (Isaacs) was making an effort to try and get all the boats out here that do have sails to have little mini-regattas. I was like, “Don, if we can get three people in each boat and we change it up so that maybe the one canoe has a fast paddler and maybe one boat has a really smart sailor and then not such a good paddler, we switch it up and we have guys and girls and we race up to the Diamond Head Buoy and back.”
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and there’ll be a lot of color back on the beach. We’ll encourage to get back to that point like what we enjoyed and shared when we were racing the Scorpions and then the Hobie Cats.” We used to race here up, down Diamond Head Buoy, down to the Wreck Buoy and on our Hobies. It was just so much fun. it was an unbelievable time.
MK: We have all this whole generation now who doesn’t sail at all because we don’t have anything of the sort. What do you think caused the program to die out?
DH: I think a lot of these programs have maybe faltered from the lack of a Cline being such a driving spearhead. His life was the Outrigger outside of being the best surveyor in Hawaii. I think he was a champion for so many of these things. Running in the Outrigger Canoe Club was really strong back in those days and Cline took it upon himself to have an aid station out in Kahala. I think the encouragement of all the runners and what Cline was doing out there, it all came together. There was a lot of excitement for running back then and what Cline did.
MK: Yeah. One year, we had almost 100 members enter the marathon.
MK: Now this past year I think it was, like, 10. A big difference.
DH: Running an aid station for a couple of … 10, 20, 30,000 people is a huge deal. He used to run it out of Bruce Ames’ hose and then when Bruce sold his house and moved up Palolo, I was still living in Kahala and renting my place. We used my landlord’s water and we’d have to fill all the garbage cans up with fresh water for the sponges and the ice. We’d probably have 30 or 40 Outrigger members helping out because you had to pass out the cold sponges, you had to pass out drinks, and you had to pick up all the cups.
MK: Some years, we had more than 100 working there.
DH: Yeah. It was a big deal.
MK: It was a big deal.
DH: Huge deal.
MK: Were you part of the pre-setup?
DH: Yeah, before sunrise setup. Often I stayed to the end til the last guy crippled walked through there. The “Tail End Charlies” Cline used to call them.
MK: I remember him getting really upset toward the end when he found out one family that was walking along at 6:00 in the evening had stopped at Kahala Mall for dinner. We’d been out there since 3:00 in the morning. He said, “That’s it.”
DH: “We’ve done our job.”
MK: For 25 years. That’s it. Cline has been involved in so many things that … and you were involved in the same things. Did Cline get you involved in these … all of this or were you interested in it and he just was …
DH: I don’t know. I think Cline just took a lot of us younger guys like George McPheeters and Mike Holmes. I think a big proponent of a lot of the sports that was going on back in those days and a forgotten guy is Jerry Ober. Jerry was really a big supporter. He would go on all the Molokai races with Cline. He was at every canoe race, the state races. He was a photographer and he was there to help. He did a lot of editing and writing in the Forecast magazine.
He was a co-supporter of all that Cline was doing. When I was up on the mainland in California going to school in 1970, he sent me the drawings of what he called the trainer and his ideas on what he wanted to do so that there could be a place where a coach could work with a paddler and be able to help them with their technique and their top arm and their bottom arm and their back and their head movement and their body movement so that somebody could really understand what was expected of them as a paddler and try to unify the stroke, get everybody to do the same thing, and the coach could be right there.
Your top arm is way over here, you got to get it on top and you had a mirror and you could paddle and look in the mirror and you could see. It was so ahead of its time. I remember coming back from the mainland and we worked with Cline and helped Cline over in the back behind the dining room and building it and painting it. Keone Downing and McPheeters and I and Mike Holmes and Cline were all working on it and Domie (Gose). Cline had all these great projects going on. I think in the summers at some point when all the kids were around, I think he would go up and level the volleyball courts. He was a phenomenal man. I don’t think anybody’s, any 10 people have replaced what he would do as an individual.
MK: The Club was his life. He didn’t have a family, per se, except the Club was his family. All the kids here were his kids. He didn’t hesitate to teach them manners.
DH: Oh, no. He was very proper. If you were a kid and you were jumping on a canoe, you and your parents were quickly told that you don’t jump on the canoes and you’re respectful. I think that’s why I try to be respectful, but I think a lot of it came from Cline being that he was Hawaiian could speak fluent Hawaiian and the respect for his job that he never lost a case in court over a land boundary. He was so articulate that you just realized that guys like him and guys like Duke and guys, these old guys that had this Hawaiian connection were from a different tradition that were unique. They really stood out. It’s pretty hard to live by all those standards that those guys had, but they sure can influence you and you can try to learn from them.
MK: He always believed in doing things not only the right way, but being correct.
DH: And doing it right the first time. I know. I remember taking shortcuts and trying to fix the Scorpion and he would just go, “You have to do it right.” I would learn that you just got to do it right.
MK: We were chatting about Cline Mann and I forgot to ask you about the change chart for distance races.
DH: Yeah. I think Molokai was the real big race for so many years. I think it was such a great deal in those days for us as little gremmies and kids in that the Outrigger had some teams that were really strong and they won a lot of races. When you were young and maybe you were in the 13s or 14s crews, these older guys were champions. They were big and they were strong and they were ocean guys.
I think they inspired a lot of us to someday dream of wanting to be in those races, too. I remember back in the early 70s, I was asked to be a helper on one of my first Molokai races. The deal was that I was going to go on the Corrine C 3 and get a ride on this sampan fishing haul up to Molokai. That was going to be my free ticket up to Molokai and then we were going to spend the night up there and then we would come back with the race.
That was my first experience of watching the race and seeing the change charts and watching the miraculous job of how this all worked and how the coaching worked and how the sampan was the mothership. There was a small Boston whaler that would hold the crew and make the changes and then it’d come and drop the paddlers off with a mattress on the back of the transom of the sampan. It would run right up and go up on the top. Guys would jump in and jump out so they could get their rest or their nourishment or see a doctor or whatever was happening. They could repeat the deal and get back into the little boat and get back into the canoe. One of the really interesting things was being exposed to Cline and running what he called his change chart. There was six paddlers at a time and three alternates that were in the canoe resting at all times.
Cline had a chart and he had an abbreviation for, say, Tim Guard. TG. He had everybody’s names just TG, MB, Mark Buck or whatever it might be. Tommy Holmes, Mike Holmes, Fred Hemmings. He had it all worked out such that he had everybody in a list and he had a deal where he would time it. He would know exactly how long each paddler was paddling and how much time his rest was so that he could run and pretty much with the coach call the changes and could tell the coach, “It’s time for so-and-so to probably come out” or if you have to do a double session because you can’t change all six at the same time. Sometimes the three have to paddle twice before they get relieved and then they get a double rest, but Cline had it all worked out. The next day, Cline could tell you that out of that six hour and 20 minute race, you paddled three hours and 13 minutes and 21 seconds. It was phenomenal.
I would venture to guess that there’s not too many people then or to this day that have a clipboard with a piece of paper on it with a pencil and do that much of an accurate way of controlling the change chart. It was, I think, way before its time. I’m not sure if many clubs even do that today. I’m sure the Tahitians don’t do it. I don’t think it’s something that they would do.
MK: We found some of his change charts in his memorabilia that was donated to the Club after he passed away. We’d just look at them and marvel at the intricacy of all of that, how it all … Imagine trying to keep all that straight.
DH: To keep it straight and then to ride on a boat with his perfect penmanship. He had his own type font and it was just everything was exquisitely immaculate and detailed and down to the second. It was a very innovative technique that he had.
MK: Is the Club still using it?
DH: I don’t think anybody keeps a change chart today. I don’t know. It’s been a long time since I’ve paddled Molokai, but I’ve coached some kids in some races and I’ve never used a change chart. It’s all I can do to try to get everybody in and out of the boat at the right times with my watch to also be trying to write it all down is a whole other world. I don’t think that was really passed on to too many people.
MK: He did that for 20 or so years. He went with them on the boat, I know. It was quite an excursion every year.
DH: Yeah. That was a really big deal.
MK: What do you think about the direction the Club’s ocean sports program is taking now?
DH: I’m not as directly involved as I used to be, so I don’t want to be too critical. I think there could be more activities here to encourage kids to do the water sports that we’re all so known for. I think the paddling program is great. I think we could probably enhance our paddleboarding program with maybe more clinics and more just for fun races before the one race where a kid’s never been on a paddleboard before and then we have a race out to the channel or the flag and then come back once a year and that’s it.
I think if we want to have paddleboarders become ocean athletes and really get serious, then somehow we got to take the young kids and make it fun and get some participation going. I remember when we were kids. Before the state-of-the-art paddleboards, we used to do it on big longboards. All the kids would do it and that was our start and how we did it. I think there could be probably more there.
I think with the loss of Aka Hemmings, we don’t really have a steering clinic program anymore. I think Aka taught not only how to steer here at the Outrigger to men, women, and children, but he also talked about the spiritual side of the canoe and really gave people the importance and the background of what the canoe was all about and taught you more about it so you’d be more respectful of the canoe like the old days when we were kids. We don’t really have anybody doing that anymore, which I think is important for these kids.
They also might have a little more respect for when they get in koa boat that it is a heirloom and it is incredibly special. It did come from a tree and somebody carved it out by hand. Guys like Domie (Gose) have taken it every year and revised it or redone it. It’s always a race against the dry rot and termites. Every year before these kids step into this boat, it’s redone and made so that it’s a state of an art boat.
You look at some of the race times from last year for the little kids, because my daughter’s 12 and she’s paddling, some of our boats, they’re winning every race. I would certainly say that we have as good a boat or better boat than probably a lot of the other clubs. We’re very fortunate. I don’t really think that message gets communicated to our youth or even our elder paddlers. I think we’re missing a little bit of that and just the paddling program.
MK: It seems that we’re missing, we’re not teaching them how to rig the boats. They just take it for granted when they get there. Not just the kids, the adults, too. They take it for granted that the canoe will be there on race day and it will be rigged and ready for them to go.
DH: Yeah. There was a guy (Mike Lum) that took the junior program kids a couple years ago and every race, he would have them rig the boat. He’s no longer with us anymore because there were some politics and all of that, but he took all these teenagers and instilled in them the values I think of the Hawaiian canoe in the more of the Hawaiian way of looking at it all. I think he was really great for what he did.
Rigging a canoe is vitally important. Being able to rig it and have it be balanced and be rigged so it’s the most efficient, that’s an artform. That takes years and years of learning and understanding and how far out your ama is or if it’s towed in or towed out and how much buoyancy it has and whether your ‘iaku have got to be raised up or down and how you balance everything and have it on the water and be able to see that. Then when you load it up with people, it is something that’s super important.
MK: It’s the difference between winning or even getting back to shore safely.
DH: Yeah. It’s tough to win races today. Everybody’s gotten really good and there were a small club in some respects with the amount of people that we have willing to paddle. We’ve got competition from Hui Nalu that has a big residential population in Hawaii Kai to draw from and Lanikai and Kailua that have huge ocean populations and families that they get hundreds of people and bigger groups of paddlers as a team.
We have challenges there. I think we could probably do more for our surfing kids. Surfing is a sport now in the schools, but I don’t really see too much going on to help foster our kids. In the Outrigger, we’ve got the best surfer in the world as a member. Why isn’t the Surfing Committee talking to her to come down and do clinics? If Carissa Moore was going to do a surf clinic for girls, this place would be busy.
These girls would be less worried about the little bikinis they’re wearing and more interested maybe for going surfing with Carissa. I just don’t think there’s people connecting the dots of all the resources that we have that are possible that we could really work on teaching values and getting these kids to be better prepared to become great athletes, whether it be paddling, surfing, paddleboarding, swimming, any of these things in the ocean.
MK: There’s been some feeling lately that this Club is turning more into a social club than into an athletic club or ocean sports club.
DH: Don’t get me started. I think probably you’d want me to go off the record, but I think in the old days with all the Clines and the George Downings and the great mentors and the Dukes, this truly was an ocean club. This new regime, this new board of directors, this new president seem to want to make it a more elegant fine dining club and change the mix and make it more of a loungey, hip place for people to congregate and really look down on the ocean athletes that are going to go have dinner in the bar and have a beer in their shorts, slippers, and t-shirts.
They have as much as said that. They’re really swinging and proposing all these new changes for the direction that they, I think, selfishly want so that they can entertain all their high mucky muck real estate people that they’re dealing with now. I really see it as a dramatic change. I think we’re losing our values and the plaque on the door outside right up where we’re sitting here is going to have to change and add a few new words into it if that’s where this vision is going.
There were a lot of members at that annual meeting that were talking about impeaching some of this regime. I think we really have to ask where is this Club going today because it’s changing. I think your daughter got up and spoke and there’s, I think, more people feeling what we’re all feeling. It’s kind of a tragedy where we’ve lost, I think, the original intent. I’ve tried to think about it, too.
When the older guys at the old Outrigger were the members and it was staunch and a button-down place and you had all of high society running the Outrigger and then the Freddy Hemmings and all these kind of wild kids came through, they must have thought it was pretty radical, but it was for the ocean. Now we’re getting an ocean club turning into more of a finer businessman’s club. I think a lot of the membership are questioning it and people are talking about maybe just leaving it.
I think it’s a pretty hard place to replace. You’ll never replace being able to come to the Outrigger with any place here in Hawaii, but it’s certainly changed. Marilyn, I think one of the greatest things that could be done here in the Outrigger with all the youth and the program is when I was a kid, there was music here on the beach. The Neal Ifversens and the Freddie Noa, Sr.’s would play their ukuleles and they’d play their guitars. Sometimes they’d sit out there and they’d play their guitar and they’d sing songs just amongst small groups of people.
I really think that if we could somehow get a fun teacher to teach our kids how to play the ukulele? You go to the Hawaiian canoe races, not so much the HCRA, but the other association and all those canoe clubs that all have all their kids and they’re all strumming ukuleles. They’re going to sit there for hours before their race and a lot of them after their race because their parents are paddling, too. If we could get them to all play uke, we’d have music and then for generations to come here at the Outrigger, which I think would be special.
The Outrigger luau for several years with Cathy Ostrem and her partner would teach the young girls how to hula and they would have them hula. It was a great moneymaking event because you’d get all the parents and the grandparents to come to the luau. When they don’t have the youth of the Outrigger doing the hula and these girls learning hula, they lose out and they don’t have as many seats sold. It’s not as, I think, a successful event.
I think it would great if they kept perpetuating those types of things such that these girls can learn a little bit of more of our culture. If kids could play music and play ukulele, you could make it a fun deal for them and maybe have little ukulele trios and competitions and do a paddleboard race and come in and play a song and then who knows. I just think there could be some creativity and it wouldn’t take long to figure out some programs for our youth.
We’ve got guys here. We got the best surfer in the world with Keone Downing. Keone comes down here and he’s never been asked, “Hey, do you want to coach the kids?” If Keone would coach the young kids, probably it would be unbelievable. You got one of the best ocean people in the world. Unless he’s asked, he’s not going to volunteer. He’s a Downing. He’s got that about him, but he’s unbelievable.
MK: I’ve watched him do some of the clinics and he’s great.
DH: He’s phenomenal. He’s terrific.
MK: He relates well to people.
DH: Yeah, he does. I’ve watched him teach surfing to families and he’s a great mentor for people. It would be exciting if we could get guys like him and Carissa to come and teach our youth.
MK: You’ve mentioned a bunch of names of people as we’ve been talking today. Who are some of the amazing watermen and women that you’ve, I guess, played with and competed against at the Outrigger? Who do you really admire out of all of those folks?
DH: I think when we were kids surfing and we got old enough where we could go out here at Old Man’s and you’d see the Freddy Hemmings and the Paul Strauch surfing in those days, that was pretty darn amazing. Fred was a phenomenal surfer and so was Paul Strauch. He was smooth and stylish and always had a great smile and was just such a approachable and nice, upbeat, happy guy and such a smooth, stylish surfer. That was pretty impressionable.
Some of our own peers, the Rustys and the Tommys and the Akas were, in their day, they were probably some of the best surfers that were around and as a peer group. They were really phenomenal. One of our members that never really spent a lot of time here because he was surfing more challenging waves was Joey Cabell. Extremely good, speedy, graceful surfer champion at Makaha. Always very generous and humble and phenomenal whether he was surfing or paddleboarding or sailing.
Cline mentored him in teaching him how to sail. I can remember in the days when Joey was going to sail from here to Kauai on a P Cat and Cline would give him the course for his compass that he could hit Kauai or Nawiliwili or wherever Joey was sailing to. I remember Cline’s concern about Joey being able to get there and get there safely and do that. Joey went on to build a high-speed, one of the fastest boats in the world at that time with Joe Quigg, the most elegant, most gorgeous boat I think still to this day at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor.
He built two 41 and 44 foot, somewhere around there, catamarans that really are the belle of the Ala Wai. They’re just gorgeous. I never really got to see Joe surf too much, Joe Quigg, but he was more boogie boarding when I first started seeing him surf. I never really got to see him in the water standing up on boards, but as a craftsman and as a humble sort of Michelangelo of ocean vehicles whether it be surfboards, paddleboards, or boats, I think he’s one of the most heroic members we have here at the Outrigger. So understated, so quiet.
The things that he’s built are works of art, whether he builds a paddle or the Kaoloa. He was given a 40+ foot log that the Outrigger had won in a Kona race around 1980 and asked if he would make a canoe. He worked on it for a year and it was a bad log and it would twist and he had to keep on redoing it. It’s just a gorgeous canoe. I don’t think today’s generation really appreciates who this guy is that comes down here and sits there sometimes with his little pencil and starts drawing out things. He’s just amazing. He’s got a photographic memory. He told me once if he can draw it, he can build it.
MK: That’s why he draws all the time.
DH: He does some space-age drawings. He made a big impact on me. Cline obviously made a big impact on me and when I became a shirtmaker, I’d spend enough time with Cline down at the beach with sailboats or whatever it was or canoeing and racing and all that kind of stuff that … Cline always had a toolbox. Who walks around down here with a toolbox? Nobody, but Cline was always prepared to be able to fix anything.
When I became a shirtmaker, I took all those values and just wanted to make the best shirt. I wanted to have the best fabric, the best fit, the best print, the best buttons, the best everything. It all carried over into how I tried to make a living and products that we were creating. I really think it emulated from a lot of just watching Cline and people like Joe.
MK: Yeah. They’re both very … people that make a great impression on you with all they’ve done.
DH: Yeah. They’re phenomenal.
MK: Dale, I’ve really enjoyed our talk this morning. Is there anything else that you’d like to add to … Anything that we haven’t covered?
DH: No. It’s bittersweet to be in an age where all of a sudden now you’re able to reach a point where you’re being asked to give your story. When I did do my book, I really was able to and I was so grateful to your predecessors that have taken the time to do what you’re doing to give these oral histories. I was really able to learn a lot and to be able to read the interviews of George Monjay who was a partner with Kahala with Nat Norfleet and get the inside story on what they were doing to how they created their company and what they did.
Whoever was the interviewer in those days did a good job of being able to do it. I’m so appreciative of what you’re doing because maybe in 40 years from now when somebody who hasn’t been born yet is trying to do something not necessarily with me, but with all these people that you talk to, it’s really a great source of wisdom and story that will be gone.
MK: I think that’s what the Club is trying to do is perpetuate the stories and history about the Club and the people that were members and for the next generation so they can have an idea of what things, what they used to be like. Thank you so much.
DH: I really appreciate you having me do this and appreciate it. I can’t believe I’m at this stage in my life that I’ve reached this point.
MK: We all get there.
DH: Yeah, I know. It’s pretty interesting.
MK: Thanks, Dale.
DH: Yeah, you bet. Thank you, guys. Thanks for listening.
Service to the Outrigger Canoe Club
Board of Directors
1985 Coordinating Director, Athletics and Winged “O”
1986 Coordinating Director, Athletics and Winged “O”
Canoe Sailing Committee
Public Relations Committee
Molokai to Oahu Canoe Race
1978 5th Place, 2nd Koa
1979 1st Place, 1st Glass
1980 1st Place, 1st Overall
Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association Championships
1967 Boys 13
1968 Boys 14
1969 Boys 15
1978 Sophomore Men
1979 Sophomore Men
1998 Masters 45
1990 3rd Overall
1990 1st Overall, Winter 10K Paddleboard Race (record)
1993 1st, Masters Men
1968 1st, Boys 14
1998 1st, Masters 35