This oral history interview is a project of the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The legal rights of this material remain with the Outrigger Canoe Club. Anyone wishing to reproduce it or quote at length from it should contact the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions that are not factual. A full transcript of the video may be found below.
An interview by Marilyn Kali
November 17, 2017
MK: Today is Friday, November 17, 2017. We are 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 longtime members. Today, it’s my pleasure to be talking to one of the Club’s great water men, Mark Rigg. Good morning, Mark.
MKR: Good morning Marilyn.
MK: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, when and where you were born and where you grew up?
MKR: Okay, I was born here in Honolulu in 1956 when Hawaii was still a Territory. My mom was Lei, and my father was Hank. I’m the oldest of five kids. I spent my, pretty much my whole life here, aside from attending college at Pepperdine.
MK: Where did you folks live?
MKR: When I was born we lived in Kailua, and then when I was baby, about one and a half years old, we moved to Portlock Road and that’s where I lived till I was about twelve years old. It was a wonderful place to grow up. None of the houses were up at Portlock Point yet, and it wasn’t developed at all. Hawaii Kai was one lane into town and one lane out of town. That was a great place to grow up.
MK: Were your parents born in Hawaii?
MKR: My mom was born and raised here, and my dad is from Illinois. My dad played basketball for the Army. He was competing in a tournament here, and my mom attended the tournament and saw my dad. I don’t know if she met him at the party afterwards or whatever but . . .
MK: Love at first sight.
MKR: It really was, and they had a great love for each other and a great marriage, and they were great parents.
MK: Were either one of them athletes?
MKR: My dad was an athlete, played basketball, a little bit of volleyball in the Army, but not sort of a structured, kind of more for fun. My dad’s sport was basketball, and that’s primarily what he played.
MK: Your nom was not?
MKR: My mom, no. She played a little bit of softball I believe, a little bit of volleyball when she was growing up, and when she was very young she was a member of the old Outrigger Canoe Club. I know she spent some time there maybe surfing a little bit, but her focus wasn’t athletics so much.
MK: She was a member during the … At the old Club in Waikiki.
MKR: Yeah, she was a member there.
MK: You said you have three brothers and a sister.
MKR: I do.
MK: Can you tell me a little bit about each one of them and their order of birth?
MKR: Sure, okay. I’m the eldest and the next oldest is Scott. We were very, very close growing up, best of friends. He’s my younger brother, so I used to beat him up on a regular basis. Then there was Lisa. Like I explained, Lisa was here then she went to LA, raised a family, got married. Lisa passed when she was thirty-two. Then there’s Matt, who I consider the best athlete of all of us. I believe Matt was, by far, the best athlete. Then the youngest is Doug.
MK: They were all athletes?
MKR: They were.
MK: All volleyball players?
MKR: All volleyball players. Myself, Scott, Matt and Doug, we all attended Pepperdine University and played under Marv Dunphy. Matt and Doug won two national championships at Pepperdine. Scott and I won one national championship, and that was in 1978, and that was the first national championship the school had ever won. It was kind of neat.
MK: When did you join Outrigger?
MKR: I joined when I was thirteen, so 1969 I believe I became a member. I was coming down here with a friend of mine and playing on the baby court, playing some volleyball, surfing a little bit and really enjoyed this place, and so became a member myself.
MK: Do you remember who your sponsors were?
MKR: I remember my sponsor was Tom Kay; he was a dentist. He attended the Mormon Church that we were attending in Kahala, I believe, and he was a close friend of my mom’s.
MK: Did you surf a lot when you were young?
MKR: Yeah. My dad bought Scott and I surfboards when, I believe I was about nine and Scott was about seven. He bought us two Hobie surfboards that were eight-six; mine was blue, Scott’s was clear. We used to surf out at Portlock at a place called Seconds and Pillars. My dad used to take us to Baby Makapu’u surfing. My dad really was wonderful, as far as introducing us to surfing and taking us surfing. He didn’t grow up in the water at all, so it was kind of a neat thing. I think he liked to sit on the beach and drink beer while we surfed.
MK: Did you ever compete in surfing contests?
MKR: Yeah, in high school we did. There was some surf contests that we competed in. I particularly liked the contest that was held at Ala Moana Bowls, because normally Ala Moana was so crowded. If you entered the contest you paid your $15 or $10 and you got to surf with four or five other guys out, or the one year that I went … I think I was a junior and the winds were real good, and if you make your heat you get to surf another heat, you make that heat you get to surf another heat, and so I got into the finals. I think I got to surf three times with four other guys out, and it was really … The waves were great.
MK: Do you surf here at the Club at all?
MKR: I do, yeah. I love to surf. I still surf. I’ve done a few surf trips. I surf as much as I can. I have a house on Molokai, and so I moved over there about three and a half years ago and there’s a lot of good surfing. The great thing about Molokai it’s uncrowded, so you get a lot of good uncrowded surf.
MK: Where have you been on your surfing trips?
MKR: I went to Indonesia, to the Mentawai islands, on a boat trip. I’ve gone to Tavarua in Fiji.
MK: You got any good surfing stories to tell us?
MKR: You know what’s funny about surf trips; you pay all this money and you go on these trips and you just hope that you get good surf. What I’ve learned is, is you can get uncrowded surf here (Oahu) on certain days, and it’s as good as something you’ll pay a few thousand dollars for on a surf trip. I guess, the travel and the experience is something that you don’t get. One thing I’ve learned about staying here is you can still get uncrowded surf here and consider yourself lucky, because it’s real rare nowadays, because there are so many people in the water.
MK: That’s at Tonggs or?
MKR: I surf at Aina Haina’s a little bit, I’ll surf Suicides, I’ll surf Old Man’s when it’s good, Castles when it gets good. When I was younger I used to go to the country a lot. Since I’m older, I don’t go surfing in the North Shore so much anymore, but I was really into that for a while. I guess as I’m getting older I’m just more aversive to crowds and that whole thing, and the vibe can get pretty intense in the water and I just kind of shy away from that now.
MK: Any big wave surfing?
MKR: I got into big waves, and one of my best friends and one of my closest friends is Keone Downing, and Keone won the Eddie (Aikau). His dad, George (Downing), they’ve got a lot of big wave experience in the family. I actually spent some time with Keone and kind of hung out with him and he taught me a lot. One day we went to Makaha, as a matter of fact this is my one day I surfed real big waves, and George had a surfboard that he let me use. When I was in good shape I was surfing a lot, and I went out and I caught a lot of waves. It was big, it was like fifteen feet, and so I started to get hooked.
In fact, the next day I went to the shop and talked to George about buying the surfboard that he had lent to me, and he wouldn’t sell it to me; he said it was Clyde Aikau’s board, he was going to give it to Clyde. I said … I begged him to sell me the board, because I had such a great time on the board, and he wouldn’t do it.
Then I got busy raising my family. I worked full-time. We bought a home, we had a mortgage, we had bills, we had kids in private school and so I really started getting into big wave surfing when I was a little older, but I also was raising a family, so I couldn’t really focus a lot on it at that point in time.
MK: It takes a lot of effort to-
MKR: Yeah, it does.
MK: … and concentration. Where did you go to high school?
MKR: I went to high school at Punahou, I graduated in 1975.
MK: Did you go for twelve years, or when did you start?
MKR: I’m in the thirteen- year club. Yes. I started in kindergarten, and the boys, if you were born past a certain date they made you repeat a grade when you came in. I was at Central Union in kindergarten then I went to Punahou, and they made me repeat kindergarten. My mom went there as well.
MK: Did all your siblings go?
MKR: Everybody went through Punahou.
MK: What sports did you compete in in high school?
MKR: I played volleyball. I was surfing a lot in high school, so I couldn’t dedicate a lot of my … I wasn’t willing to dedicate a lot of my time to volleyball until my senior year. Chris McLachlin was a huge influence and great role model for me and really had a lot to do with me getting involved in the sport, and me going to Pepperdine, and really started my whole volleyball career because of Chris. Chris was great.
MK: Punahou won four straight league championships while you were there?
MKR: Yes, I believe so. I’m not sure how many, but they were …
MK: You said your coach was who?
MKR: Was Chris McLachlin.
MK: Were there any other Club members on your team?
MKR: Yeah, Jay Anderson was on my team, Peter Ehrman. I was a little bit older than Mark Haine. I’m trying to remember who else; Scott Rolles. Scott Rolles was on the team, and …
MKR: Jay Anderson. Chris was largely responsible for talking to Marv Dunphy and Harlan Cohen, who was the head coach at Pepperdine at that time. Just by word of mouth and not even seeing us play they took Chris’s word and gave us, both Jay and I, full scholarships at Pepperdine. Now you have to send your video in and all that, no; it was before all that. Chris just recommended it to Harlan and Marv and they took us.
MK: Four year scholarship to Pepperdine.
MKR: Four year scholarship to Pepperdine, 1975 to 1979.
MK: Why do they call it the Punahou Hawaii Pipeline to Pepperdine?
MKR: I guess we were the first players to be recruited to colleges on the mainland. All the good volleyball colleges were on the West Coast. There was UCLA, USC, Pepperdine, Santa Barbara, San Diego State, and so Jay and I were sort of the first couple of guys that got recruited. Volleyball was blowing up and it was getting real popular. We’d spend hours on the beach courts up here, upstairs, and put our time in, got a lot of repetitions in, and from then on in it’s been … There’s been a number of players from Punahou that have gone to Pepperdine, UCLA, USC, and it’s been … We were kind of the first.
MK: You mentioned earlier that Pepperdine won a national championship while you were on the team, what year was that?
MKR: That was 1978.
MK: Did you earn any all-American honors?
MKR: All-American 1977, 1978 and then Marv Dunphy, our coach, left. We had our whole team coming back the next year after we won the national championship, and Marv shocked us all, because he left for a year to go get his doctorate at BYU, and then Kirk Kilgore became our coach, and changed our offense, changed the things that we did real well and just changed things up so much that we weren’t playing at as high a level as we were that the year before, and so we didn’t even make it into the finals that next year. We should have won it two years in a row. I really believe if Marv had stayed that we would have won it in 1979 too
MK: What position did you play?
MKR: I played outside hitter. I started off as a middle blocker then I went outside hitter.
MK: Who did you play for the national championship?
MKR: We played UCLA, and it went five games, and we beat them 15-12 in the fifth game. Peter Erhman and Scott Rolles were on the team with UCLA.
MK: That’s pretty cool, playing against your high school teammates.
MKR: Yeah, it was.
MK: Especially at the national championship level.
MKR: Yeah. We played at Ohio State, and it was great.
MK: What’s it like to win a national championship?
MKR: Kind of surreal at first, I think it takes a while to settle in. I think the greatest thing about it is sharing it with the guys that you’ve trained so hard with, and the camaraderie, and still today I keep in touch with all the guys. It’s so rare to win one, but it was awesome. Marv was a great coach with a great program, everybody was really committed. We trained really, really hard and we believed in each other. It was great.
MK: Scott (Rigg) was on that as well?
MKR: Scott was on the team as well.
MK: You were a junior and . . .
MKR: Scott was a sophomore.
MK: These days at Outrigger we have junior teams that go to the Junior Olympics every year. Did you play on Junior Olympic teams?
MKR: No, we had a team that was organized, at the Outrigger, and we did play on a junior team. There were a number of different coaches, Dennis Berg coached us, Dave Shoji coached us, and it was before there was a women’s program at University of Hawaii I think. Cline Mann was real supportive of us when we are playing volleyball, and everything we did, Cline was just so supportive and such a great mentor, but yeah there was, and we played a lot at Klum Gym, and we had great role models. We had Daddy Haine, we had Randy Shaw, we had Charlie Jenkins, Jim Iams. We used to sit courtside and watch these guys practice. They were heroes.
MK: Did the team go to the nationals?
MKR: Yeah. The junior later on after, when I got into college, we played for the Outrigger open team that went to the national championships every year, and that was USVBA, United States Volleyball Association.
MK: Not as juniors.
MKR: No, not as juniors. We didn’t. There was nothing organized at that point in time I think.
MK: That’s what I was wondering, how early we started getting those teams.
MKR: I’m not sure.
MK: What did you do after college?
MKR: I played semi-professional volleyball in Seattle for a team called Seattle Smashers, and that was in the IVA, which is … What was that IVA, International Volleyball Association?
MKR: There were teams in Albuquerque, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles. I was recruited to play on a team in Seattle called Seattle Smashers. Sherry (Packard), at that point in time we weren’t married. We had a 1967 Volkswagen van and basically lived out of the van, and went out to Seattle and lived in Seattle. It was a great place to live in the summer. They told me how horrible the weather was during the winter, but we were gone by August. I did that, and then I came back and I graduated from Pepperdine, and after that I came home. I just missed home.
MK: What year did you graduate?
MKR: I graduated in 1980.
MK: What was your degree in?
MKR: In sports medicine. I came home, and I was with Sherry , and she says, “Hey, I want to have a family, and if you can’t commit I’m out of here. I’m going back to the Mainland,” I said, “Okay, let’s get married.” We got married in 1982 and had three daughters.
MK: What kind of work did you do?
MKR: I was a paramedic for the City (and County of Honolulu), a field paramedic for about twenty-six years, and then I was appointed as deputy director for the Emergency Services Department by Mayor Peter Carlisle, and then when Kirk Caldwell won the election (for mayor) he appointed me as the director. I served as the director for the department the last four years I was in the City.
MK: I remember when you were studying for the paramedic exam, everybody was going around with cards asking you questions. Do you remember that?
MKR: Yeah, I do. The career is definitely not for everybody. I loved it, but it was super stressful. There was a classroom portion, where some people did real well in the classroom portion and not so well in the field. Some people would barely get through the classroom portion and do real well in the field. You just had to take little baby steps to the point where you could be certified and walk into a life and death situation, figure out what’s going on and make the difference.
MK: Well, you came back and you got a job and you started a family, and then you started playing volleyball again.
MKR: I played volleyball, I played beach. My best friend at the time was Keone Downing. We competed together a lot in beach tournaments. I played with Marc Haine. We won the State championships one year, I think with Marc. At the same time we began paddling, and the two sports began to overlap. We’d play in a weekend beach tournament here and we’d race the Henry (Ayau Long Distance Canoe) Race, then rush back from Nanakuli to compete in the semi-finals of the beach tournament. Then I slowly got out of volleyball and actually became full-time and just paddled.
MK: You were on some of our national teams that went to the US VBA national championships. You played for a number of years.
MKR: Yeah, number of years with the best, all my best friends I grew up with. It was wonderful.
MK: You are always in the finals.
MKR: Yeah. We made it; we did real well for a group from Hawaii, we did real well together.
MK: Who were some of your teammates?
MKR: Jay Anderson, Jon Andersen, Mike Cote, and Ralph Smith. I played a little bit when Charlie Jenkins and Randy Shaw and those guys were kind of fading out of the open division and going into sort of the Masters, and so we had a lot of success, and one year got into the finals and competed against a bunch of Olympians. We competed against Karch Karali, Tim Hovlin, Pat Powers, Dusty Devorak. We were playing at a real high level.
MK: Were those tournaments here in Hawaii or did you go to the mainland?
MKR: They were there always on the mainland, and it was great because the Outrigger Canoe Club at that time, I think because Daddy Haine had a huge volleyball budget, and so we’d go … Our round-trip airfare would be paid for, our hotel would be paid for, and we’d get per diem every day to eat. It was the best deal going. It was great.
MK: You were able to get time off from work?
MKR: Yes, for the most part I got time off at work, and then went on a trip one year, although it was unauthorized, and told them I was sick. We ended up doing real well in the tournament. I got all-American, it was in the paper and I came back and got in a huge amount of trouble at work.
MK: Oh my goodness! Well, did you start out playing on the baby courts here or did you-
MKR: I did. Yeah, we started playing on the baby courts and watched all the older guys play on the big courts and sort of just, as we got older, started to play more on the big courts. During high school, Monday through Friday, we used to meet down here two or three times a week in the afternoon and just play. Nobody was here, we’d get the ball and four, five or six of us would just play a bunch of games. It was great.
MK: You had good friends. Did you play against the big guns; Daddy and Randy and Jon?
MKR: Daddy was a little older. The big gun were mostly Randy, Randy Shaw, and Charlie Jenkins, Dave Shoji was playing at a high level. There was Jon Haneberg. Those guys were a little older. They were our mentors. We’d team up with them and they’d really teach us a lot, and as time went by they got older we became some of the better players down here. They taught us so much when we were growing up. We were surrounded by a bunch of those people at the Outrigger. It’s such a … So many great opportunities that were down here because of the people that you met and the things that you learned from those people. There was an incredible amount of knowledge down here. I was very, very fortunate.
MK: Is that happening now?
MKR: It is, but I think I think it’s less so. I don’t know … I just think; I know it’s generational. I thought the Club was real family oriented when I was younger and it seems like it’s not so much anymore. We could talk about social media, just to sit down and have a conversation with so many, like you and I are right now, without people looking at their phones. There was a connection and people engaged with people. It just seemed people were more present, and now people are … It’s not like that anymore.
MK: Did the big guns take pity on you guys when you were playing against them?
MKR: No, not at all.
MK: They slammed you?
MKR: Not at all, no way. It was all about winning. There was no pity.
MK: What did they teach you guys? They were all teachers in their own way.
MKR: Yeah, they were. Each person taught you something different. Some people made the time and effort to teach you, and other people wouldn’t take the time to teach you. You just have to watch.
MK: Who were the teachers?
MKR: I’d say the teachers were Randy; Randy Shaw was a teacher. I think Charlie Jenkins was a teacher. I think Jim Iams was a teacher, and Daddy Haine was a teacher. There was a lot of teachers. Jon Haneberg, not so much, maybe, but you learned something from everybody. It’s funny, because you start to … I think that your role models, you want to be like your role models, and so you pick somebody that you really admire and look up to it, has characteristics that you want to have as a person or as a competitor or a player, and then you kind of adapt that person’s.
MK: Who was the role model for you?
MKR: In volleyball? Playing-wise, when I was growing up, it was Randy. Randy was a real … And Charlie. Let’s say Randy and Charlie Jenkins were huge role models for me.
MK: What did they teach you about sportsmanship?
MKR: I think that a good sportsman is a good person, a good human being. Everybody, I think when you compete and you’re competing against one another, you set an example by the way you conduct yourself, winning and losing. There were poor losers and there were good losers. I think the people down here … I think that Daddy Haine had a huge influence on people down here. He was the guy that sort of controlled everything. If Daddy Haine came up and had a talk with somebody about something, that you listened and you followed directions. If you talk to Randy, you talk to Charlie, you talk to other people, Daddy was kind of the leader of … Those were his courts. Everybody else was looking up to him for his approval.
MK: He was a good sportsman.
MKR: He was a great sportsman. One thing about Daddy Haine, no matter who you were, no matter where you came from, no matter how much money you had, he treated everybody the same. That’s what I loved about that guy; he just treated everybody the same. He was a great person.
MK: We lost him way too soon.
MKR: Way too soon, yeah.
MK: Did you ever play against Tom Selleck, or with him?
MKR: I played … Yeah, Tom used to play down here during the week. People came down here at noon and played during the lunch hour; Tom would come down. I played against Tom when he was down here doing Magnum PI (TV show). Tom got involved in indoors (volleyball) as well, with the Outrigger Canoe Club, and played and traveled with the Outrigger Canoe Club, and put on the Outrigger Canoe Club jersey and played. He wasn’t treated so much like the star he was down here; he was treated like an everyday person, and I think he enjoyed that. He was a good man.
MK: Was he a good player?
MKR: He was a pretty good player. He had good front net skills. He was a pretty good hitter, blocker. His ball control stuff, maybe he needed to work on that a little bit. I don’t think Tom grew up playing volleyball; I’m not sure what his sports were.
MKR: Basketball, but he was an athlete; big strong guy. He just liked to be one of the boys down here I think.
MK: Like everybody else. Are you still playing volleyball?
MKR: No, I’m not. I faded out of that, because … Just because injuries, and most of the people continued to play. I started getting back and shoulder stuff; I just checked out and started to paddle and that was my focus. The guys who continued to play got injured and they had surgeries, and I didn’t want to go down that road.
MK: Well, you mentioned canoe racing, so let’s talk a little bit about that. Did you start paddling as soon as you joined the Club when you were thirteen?
MKR: I did. We paddled … Fred Hemmings was our coach, and Hal Burchard. I don’t know if you remember Hal. They were our coaches when we were thirteen. We trained and raced regattas. That was what you did; you paddled and surfed all summer.
MK: You guys, your sixteen and eighteen team were State champions?
MKR: Yes, I believe so.
MK: You guys did very well. Any memories of who was on those crews?
MKR: You know, gosh, I … Walter, Walter steered. Walter and I were real close friends during that time, and Robbie Mueller. I think Rick Lemke, guys that aren’t around so much anymore.
MK: You kind of had a nucleus of …
MKR: Yeah, that’s a long time ago. Gosh, it’s been so much I can’t really remember everybody.
MK: When you were in college did you come home during the summer and paddle?
MKR: Yeah, I always did, but I’d come home and not paddle so much; I’d play volleyball.
MK: Well, that was your sport at the time.
MKR: That was the passion back then, volleyball.
MK: After college you started paddling again, when you came back, and you were on four Molokai Championship crews.
MKR: Five. We won in 1986, 1987, 1988, we won in 1990 in Koa, and that was the last year it was won in Koa, and then 1999.
MK: Who was your coach during that time?
MKR: Steve Scott was our coach. Steve Scott.
MK: Who were the core paddlers on . . .
MKR: We had a great group of guys; Keone and Kainoa Downing, Walter Guild, Marc Haine was part of it. Chris Kincaid, Steve Van Lier Ribbink was in there in the early days with Bill Bright in 1986 when we first won; Bill Bright was on the crew. Scott Rolles and Tommy Conner. We had just a fantastic group of guys, and we’d all grown up together and we’d all surfed together. We were very competitive and committed to winning.
MK: What does it take to win five times?
MKR: In 1986, 1987, 1988, and 1990 there were no one-mans. It was just sort of beginning the one man canoe thing, and no off-season … Now they paddle year-round. Then regatta season would start in May, first races were in June, Molokai was the second weekend in October, and so we’d surf the rest of the year and then we talked about, “Okay, do we want to do it again.” We came back and when we won it the second time the thing was that, “Well, nobody’s won it three times in a row, we’ve got to come back and win it three times,” and so we did. We won it three times in a row, set a record in 1988. The canoe we paddled was the Hawaiian Class Racer, and the boat was built by the Fiberglass Shop with Walter Guild. The boat was kind of a narrower low rocker lower volume kind of boat and we figured out how to paddle that boat really, really well, and we figured out the weight distribution in the boat.
Tommy was an amazing steersman. I remember 1988 he went to, out of his Waimanalo home in his garage, he made an ama out of foam and glassed it. It was kind of a spooky little ama. It was big and unusual looking. He brought it to Molokai and we rigged it; we covered it up so nobody could see it, and we had practiced with it a few times and it was really good in the surf. The ama was amazing, and we set the record that year. The ama worked great. Tommy was amazing, and the competitiveness with the group of guys we had, it was so intense that if for instance you missed practice you better come up with a good reason. Nowadays if you miss practice, “Okay we’ll see you the next time.” Nobody missed practice, nobody. Steve took roll, he had his little book; he took attendance, and he documented all the times. We had all the combinations on our canoe. There wasn’t a slow combination, and we trained really hard. We were fast.
MK: Those were our best years.
MKR: Yeah. Now, the boats have changed, the sport’s changed. We are paddling year-round. The Bradley boat, The Lightning, is such a different canoe than we were paddling as compared to the Hawaiian Class Racer. We figured out how to paddle the (HCR) boat real well, because it was a very delicate boat and you had to paddle it real smooth and with a lot of technique. Like I said, we figured out how to paddle that canoe really, really well, really fast.
MK: Well, when Steve Scott did his oral history he said you were probably the best all-around male paddler that he ever coached.
MKR: Boy, that’s quite a complement, thank you Steve.
MK: It surely is. What was he like as a coach?
MKR: He was committed, temperamental, completely loyal and committed, and at times volatile, because it meant so much to him and he was so passionate about it. Tommy had, Tommy Conner had a relationship with Steve where after each practice Tommy and Steve would talk and Tommy would tell him how the boat ran, and Steve was sort of the statistician and just kept the data.
Walter was involved … I remember each year before the Molokai race we’d sit down with a big map of Molokai and Oahu and the channel and they’d talk about what course they would be taking and I was fascinated, because I was new to the sport. Everybody wanted to paddle the channel, and winning the channel was everybody’s dream.
Tommy had his little secret courses, and that was before GPS, so you had to do it by looking at landmarks and things and feeling the ocean. Tommy was great. Steve is an amazing coach. I think he’s by far the best coach that Outrigger Canoe Club has ever had and his record speaks for itself.
MK: It does. Any stories you can tell us about the Molokai races?
MKR: There’s so many. I think in 1990 when we won in Koa we were paddling the Kaoloa, and we had won in 1986, 1987, 1988, set the record in 1988, so what the incentive was, Walter was working with Joe Quigg on modifying the Kaoloa to make it a better open ocean canoe versus a flatwater regatta canoe. He had done some modifications to it. Not everybody was onboard with paddling the Kaoloa and using Koa, but the incentive was that we had won it all three years in fiberglass, set the record, what was next. We all agreed that it’d be fantastic and pretty cool to win it in Koa, and so we … I had a lot of reservations because I didn’t know we could win it in Koa but I knew if we paddled the same canoe as everybody else we’d win it. It was a bit of a gamble, and we decided to go for it. We paddled the Koa. We had a great start, we were a couple of miles off La`au Point, getting into the channel and it started getting a little rough, a little bit … There was waves, there was surf and Australia was coming up behind us. Tommy, and only Tommy can do this; the way he talks to the crew, “They’re coming, they’re getting closer. Okay boys, drop your purses,” he goes, “We need to get going,” and so they came up right beside us and we were going back and forth with them.
I knew that if they’d gone … We were trying to muscle the boat. We were coming out of our comfort zones and I could tell straight up it was going to be hard to beat these guys, and they were in fiberglass. We went back and forth for a couple miles and it was becoming apparent that these guys were going to pull away. They were right beside us, they dropped in on a wave and the steersman, Jason Summerville, he lost the canoe. It tracked to the left and it tracked right in front of us and we T-boned their canoe in five seat and they hulied.
They’re in the water. They were great paddlers but probably had very little experience about getting a canoe, righted over, gathering the paddles, because when you flip, one thing you do is you don’t unzip; you stay zipped and you get out of the cover very gently so you don’t rip the zipper and then you get the canoe righted and there’s a way to do it so you don’t take on too much water.
I don’t think they had a lot of experience, so when they flipped we said, “Here’s our chance, let’s go,” because these guys are fast and they’re probably going to beat us if we don’t take advantage of that, so we were gone and they never caught us. I think that just threw them out of their game. It just … The point is, we were lucky. The Tahitians are winning it every year. Maybe their incentive one year is to come back and try do it in Koa, the Koa boat. The fiberglass boats are just, are faster. We were lucky to win it in 1990 when we won it in Koa.
MK: That was the last Koa to win.
MKR: That was the last Koa to win. I think it might be the last Koa ever to win. The point of the story is that we got lucky, and I’m not sure if we would have won if they didn’t go right in front of us. Like I said, I thought we busted their canoe in half; we hit them so hard, or busted the front manu off our canoe. They went over and they never caught us. We were lucky. That’s just one of … Gosh, I have so many.
MK: Tell me one more.
MKR: I’m trying to think of a good one. Well, the first year we won it, in 1986, we weren’t favored to win it. Tahiti’s all-star crew was here, and there was a real fast crew from California called Imua. We were fast, and we were getting faster, but we didn’t think we had the hull speed to win it and we were not favored to win it. We went across and we did our own course, it went a little bit north, and Imua and Tahiti headed pretty much a run line to the south and they were going back and forth. Tommy did his own thing and we believed that faith.
When we got to Oahu, I don’t know if you remember in the old days where the helicopter would come out and they would shoot from the air and they announced on KCCN; I remember KCCN used to do the canoe race, and so they were way outside with Imua and Tahiti for Oahu and we were all by ourselves up north. We had come into Maunalua Bay, and we were surfing; we were moving and we’d go, “I don’t know about those guys, but we are moving and we’ve got a good angle on the swell.” I go, “I don’t know where we are but maybe we might be winning it.”
When I realized we were winning it was when the helicopter came from outside Tahiti and Imua and all of a sudden see them coming over toward us, and then all of the boats, the armada of boats that come in and watch the race, they want to be with the leader, so all the boats and the helicopter come our way. I just remember the excitement and the adrenalin and the thought that we might win it. Then when we got out here, off Diamond Head in front of the Outrigger, it was obvious we were going to win it. Best feeling in the world.
MK: Was that your favorite win?
MKR: I think 1986 was our favorite, because nobody thought we were going to win, and then we won it all these years after.
MK: Are you still paddling?
MKR: I am. I got real busy with my job; I retired in December 2016, I bought myself a one-man, I started training again and I’m paddling, not so much right now. I’ve battled in a number of one-man races this past year, participated in the Pailolo Challenge on a great surfing day and did really well. I’m back paddling my one-man. I’m going to kick up my training real soon here and compete and think about doing the Solo again in, I think it’s May. I want to do another Solo.
MK: That’s great. How many times did you cross the channel in a six man canoe?
MKR: Gosh, I think five … Probably only … Not a lot, probably about fifteen, or so, not as many as a lot of other people in a six man. In the Solo, I’ve done the Solo one, two, three, four … I think I’ve done the Solo six times and won it in 1996, 1997, 1998, and then Karel (Tresnak Jr.) won it in 1999.
MK: Have you ever done any coaching of six man regattas or . . .
MKR: I haven’t. I’ve been tempted since I retired. I’m thinking about it. Johnnie Puakea has got the woman down here. Jim Beaton has the men, and the men did really well, the women did well. It’s a huge commitment and it’s filled with making everybody happy and drama, and …
MK: What about kids crews, you’ve coached some of those?
MKR: Yeah, I’ve coached my daughter’s crews. I wouldn’t coach kids again, I don’t think. The reason I coached kids was because my kids were paddling, but I wouldn’t coach kids. If I coached again I’d get involved in the Masters, coach a Masters crew. I’ve done a lot of escorting, but that’s different than coaching. I’ve escorted Jimmy Austin across the (Molokai) channel a few times and other people, and I enjoyed that.
I enjoy setting courses, reading the ocean. It’s kind of situational and you have to make decisions in a race, especially in a channel which is so different from shoreline racing; racing between two islands versus racing along the shoreline, I enjoy that. For a while I’ve just enjoyed escorting and being involved in competition that way, but I wasn’t paddling.
MK: It doesn’t take quite as much time.
MKR: No, it doesn’t, and such a commitment with being a coach, just so much time.
MK: In the late 1980s you started paddling one-mans.
MKR: I did.
MK: How did you get interested in them?
MKR: It’s funny, because my sister passed away and it was just devastating for the family but I was just super just bummed out and I couldn’t get myself going again and I was really having a hard time. I was spending a lot of time doing nothing at all. Then I used to go over to Waimanalo and visit Tommy Conner at his home over in Waimanalo where he was building kayaks and surf skis in his garage in Waimanalo. I went over there one day just to hang out with him, I had my dog with me, and I started talking to Tommy, he had just started building a one-man canoe.
I talked to Tommy and I decided, yeah I’m going to get a canoe from Tommy. I always had a great relationship with Tommy; I really looked up to him. He told me he’d build a boat for $900 bucks, I said, “Okay, deal.” He built me the boat and I just … It was something that I became passionate about, and trained on my own out of Hawaii Kai and I did a lot of Makai Range Pier to Hawaii Kai runs. I was working midnight shift as a paramedic, and so I used to train a lot on my own or with Keone, and George Downing gave me some workouts. His workouts, were speed workouts, interval type training. The way you get faster is you’ve got to do interval training; you have to do speed work. I didn’t know.
I listened to George and I started to do interval training and a lot of open ocean stuff. I was pretty good in the surf but I wasn’t good in the flatwater, and so I just got into it. I just got totally into it. I paddled with Tommy a lot, Keone Downing. Tommy made a great boat, it wasn’t … The construction was sketchy but the design was great, and so I started to compete. Tommy would escort me across the channel, Tommy and Keone. I did my first Solo, won it, and it just took off from there; I loved it. I was winning, so there was a lot of incentive, because everybody loves to win, right.
MK: There were two racing associations back in the early days. There was the one Marshall Rosa started, and there was Kanaka Ikaika. When one ended, the other one seemed to start, the races were different lengths then. Do you know about the lengths of the races?
MKR: The surf skis came before the one-mans and there was a core group of guys that were surf ski guys. Marshall built the surf ski, Tommy built boats, Bob Twogood built surf skis as well. I don’t remember Marshall’s racing association. All I remember when I came onto the scene was Kanaka Ikaika. Wayne German was the president of Kanaka Ikaika, and it was primarily still for surf skis. We asked Wayne if we could enter as one-mans and he said, “Yeah,” reluctantly. He wasn’t too keen on the one-man thing. Then the one-man started to beat a lot of surf skis in some of the surf races in particular and the surf skis, or the one-man thing, started to blow up, particularly with Karel (Tresnak Sr.) out in Kailua making his canoes out there.
Walter (Guild) started making one-mans with the Fiberglass Shop. The first one-man really that came onboard was a boat that Walter brought back from Tahiti, which was about twenty-five feet long. It was twenty-five feet along the waterline, meaning it was from tip to tip, it was straight narrow. It was a horrible boat in the surf but it went really well in the flat. There were some one-mans before that boat. Walter was really responsible for getting everybody interested in organizing some races that were specific to the one-man canoe, and it’s just blown up.
MK: It’s taken over now, everybody is using them.
MKR: Everybody’s got them, and everybody is paddling year-around now. You better be serious about because you’re going to pay forty-five hundred bucks for a brand new boat. People aren’t … The cost isn’t shying people away from buying them; there’s six month waiting lists for all these boats. It’s amazing
MK: Do you think paddling one-man’s helps with six man racing or does it not help?
MKR: It does, it makes you a stronger paddler. It does, it gets you stronger and fitter for sure. There’s people that will tell you that you need to practice in a six man because of the blending, you need to put … You need to have a stroke and your two-seat, and you need to have your engine room. The canoe, the crew needs to blend, absolutely, but the one-man thing has made everybody … The sport, it’s risen to another level because of the one-man thing.
When you look at Tahiti, they paddle one-mans without rudders all year long. There’s different theories of thought; you do need to blend but you do need to be strong and it makes you a better paddler if you do the one-man, without a doubt. The sport has gotten so much bigger and stronger and faster because of the one-mans.
MK: It also makes it year-round.
MK: People wear out after a while.
MKR: People burn out. That’s when you grab your board and go surf.
MK: You pretty much dominated the one-man races from 1995 to 2000. You won multiple races, seems like they’re every weekend or every other weekend. How many Oahu championships did you win?
MKR: Gosh, you know I don’t keep track of that type of stuff. I don’t know. I would say maybe three or four, and maybe the same amount of State championships. I think everybody’s goal was to win on race day but also win the channel. That was the race to win.
MK: How long is the Molokai race?
MKR: Thirty-two miles, because the six man race starts at Hale O Lono and finishes at the Hilton. The one-man starts on the west side of Molokai off of Kaluakoi and it finishes in Hawaii Kai in the marina. It’s about nine or ten mile shorter. I was very lucky because I had Tommy escorting me, and Keone was in the boat too. I was in the channel; I had the best guys.
MK: Did they escort you on all of your races?
MKR: They did, they escorted me on all of them except for in 1998. Tommy was busy and Keone’s wife was graduating, and so Scott Rolles escorted me, and Kainoa Downing actually helped me and my brother Scott was on the boat as well. It was great conditions and the surf was great. John Foti and I were ahead and basically competing side by side doing this. About three hours into the race I got sick and started throwing up. John pulled ahead, and I thought I was going to lose, and then off … Karl Heyer was on the boat too, and off of Portlock Point John had gone into the wall and taken more of a winding into the wall to get along the wall to surf along the wall to come into China Wall in the bay area, and I chose a more direct line to the Point. I was lucky, because I surfed all the way, and I was feeling better. Then John had gone into the wall, and he started throwing up.
MK: Is it sea sickness?
MKR: It’s the exhaustion, dehydration. He started throwing up. I caught him and at China Walls at Portlock Point we were side by side. We were up against the wall and John caught a wave, and then I decided to peel off to the left and go over where the coral heads were just to, by chance, because I was fading and I thought John was going to pull ahead because he had just caught this wave. His wave was going to end and he had to paddle to the left to get through the coral heads to come in, so I went early; I peeled off and went out to the other side of the coral heads and a wave came, a good size wave, and I caught the wave. I swear, my sister sent me that wave, and I caught the wave and rode it two-hundred yards and the race was over.
That was awesome. Then the next year I competed was, I was on a different canoe called the Ono. I was way ahead, and unfortunately my escort boat got upwind of me and I started breathing diesel fumes and I got so violently ill. They didn’t know I was breathing their diesel fumes. I started throwing up and my … I was dead in the water, feet in the water and just throwing up for ten minutes, and they said, “You’re so far ahead, all you’ve got to do is finish.” I said, “Okay,” and I started counting the strokes and I started feeling it, but I was pale as a … White as a sheet, and Keone is there trying to get me to finish. I ended up finishing. They thought I’d won the race, I got there and Karel was sitting on the dock. I didn’t see him end-run me to the north and came up along the wall and pass me; they didn’t see him. I would have won it that year.
MK: That was the first year he won.
MKR: Yeah, that was the first year Karel won, and then from then on he dominated. I will go on record to say, of everybody that has paddled across the channel in a surfing condition Karel is the best. Go figure, right, he’s from Eastern Europe, comes over here with his dad and the kid was the best.
MK: He’s how many years younger than you?
MKR: I think Karel is thirty-five. I’m sixty-one, so he’s about twenty-five or twenty-six years younger than me. He won it when he was, I think when he was about eighteen or nineteen when I was getting older.
MK: When you’re paddling the channel Solo, do you eat or drink?
MKR: In the beginning, when I first started paddling, we didn’t know a lot about nutrition. Then we started to learn from the marathon guys and the guys that were doing the Ironman and triathlons it was important to eat. Initially, I didn’t eat and that was a mistake. Then I started to eat, because I started to learn more about race nutrition. I’d eat poi with Hawaiian salt in it, and they’d hand it to me in a baggie; I’d bite off the corner and just squeeze the baggie, and so I started to feel much better at the end of the race having learned more about nutrition and actually eating things.
I used to eat gummy bears and things like that. Some people were into fruit cups, but it became real apparent that you had to eat. You couldn’t just drink Gatorade and water. Typically, I would drink Coca Cola at the end of the race, and now they’re drinking Red Bull and all that stuff. People have learned a lot about race nutrition. The athletes have gotten better, the boats have gotten faster, nutrition has gotten better, and so people are paddling across much faster than they were twenty years ago.
MK: Do you have any other stories you can tell us about one-man paddling?
MKR: Besides broken boats and … I used to paddle from Makai Range Pier to Hawaii Kai by myself, and it used to be pretty raging, and with an outgoing tide the current sucks out into the channel, so you do not want to go outside; you want to stay in closer to the ledge. I always used to think about my boat breaking or my paddle breaking and what I would do, and so I used to carry a pair of Churchill fins with me just in case my boat broke, and I used to carry an extra paddle with me as well as and I used to tie it onto my back `iaku.
I never … I was lucky, I swear lucky; I didn’t ever break a boat. One day, it was Jimmy Kincaid and I, and it was rough, rough, rough. We left Makai Range Pier, paddled up to the (Makapu’u) Lighthouse and stopped, regrouped and said, “Hey, we’re going to paddle the back side of the Makapu’u, we are going to regroup at Allan Davis, make sure each other is okay and then we’re going to go down to Hanauma Bay and make sure each other is okay. Jimmy, as we were paddling down, he was on his surf ski and what the waves were doing is they’d rebound off the wall and they’d create this backwash. It would lift you up in the air and then the wave would just go like this so that you get airborne, and so you’d come down on your boat.
After a foot or two out of the water and I thought, “You can break your boat today. For sure, Jimmy breaks his boat and he’s in the water and its thirty knot trades, and so I go, “Oh God, what are we going to do?” He’s in the water, his boat is going to wash up, his boat is gone. It’s washing up on the ledge. I said, “Give me your paddle,” we checked the current; it was going the way we were going, which was nice, and I said, “Hey, I’m going to stick with you, you’ve just got to swim this thing.” We took over an hour with the current, he was swimming, I was paddling along. I didn’t want to break my boat, because it was that rough. We shouldn’t have gone.
We got to the end of … We were getting around the corner to Allan Davis, I said, “You’re on your own now, because I can’t go in because there’s surf,” so I paddled down to Sandy Beach and I figured he’d made it in. I got to Sandy Beach, I see the fire truck and the helicopter and there’s a lifeguard paddling out to me on a rescue board and he’s going, “Some guy saw you guys up the Makapu’u lighthouse trail and one guy was in the water. Is the guy okay,” and I said, “He’s okay I think.” I said, “He swam in over there, Allan Davis, he’s probably walking out on the trail. Send the helicopter over there. Tell the firemen to check the guy out, he’s walking on the trail.”
Sure enough, helicopter took off, I’m watching from outside Sandy’s and the helicopter goes over, hovers for a little while and heads back to the airport. What I thought was, “Okay, they found him,” and sure enough I paddled the rest of the way. I got in at Hawaii Kai and here comes Jimmy pulling up in this truck he’d hitchhiked and got a ride, and he has a six pack of Heineken and we are going, “Thank God, you just got to keep cool and check things out, use your knowledge and don’t panic and you’re going to be okay.” That was pretty sketchy.
MK: Well, you had a really challenging job and you had a family. You competed at the highest levels. How did you manage to do all of it at the same time?
MKR: I had a lot of support from Sherry, my wife, on doing this. It was real hard for her because this is stuff, this is something I was passionate about but it wasn’t paying the bills. I worked midnight for a period of time, so I would train during the day. She worked hard too. She had a full-time job. I did the shopping, cleaned the house and did all that stuff. Sherry used to pull in here (Outrigger) at night, and I used to pick up the kids, bring them down here and feed them. Practice was at 5:30; she was off work at five, she’d be here at 5:25, get in mom’s car. For a couple of years she was supportive but after that she’s going (gesture).
We should … I know, we’ve got to win it three years in a row. She was very supportive. After a while it became apparent that it wasn’t working so good, so I had to kind of pull the plug on it a little bit, but a lot of support, people that were incredibly inspirational and incredibly knowledgeable about the ocean that I was so interested in learning. Those people were basically Tommy and Keone. I used to be fascinated … I worked with Keone, and we built rudders for boats, we experimented with rudder templates and pin placement, and it was just fascinating. It was so cool. I just loved it. I couldn’t stop it. No matter what, I wasn’t going to stop, because I was so passionate about it. It made me so happy.
MK: You’ve retired from the EMT how many years?
MKR: I had thirty-two years in the City.
MK: What are you doing now?
MKR: I am not working. I told myself I’m not going to work for a year. I may go do something part time in January. I’m going to take early Social Security on my 62nd birthday in July, and when I get that I’ll be okay. I’m doing whatever I want. I’m the happiest I’ve been in years, I’m in a great relationship with somebody that I care a lot about. I have great relationships with my kids. I have a great relationship with my first wife. I’m reconnecting with my friends again. I’m doing what I want to do, I’m healthy and I’m grateful. I wake up in the morning and I am sincerely grateful for things that I took for granted maybe ten years ago. I’m so grateful. Look where we live; I was surfing this morning, lots to be grateful for.
MK: Now, you have three daughters. Tell me their names and their ages.
MKR: Kelsie is thirty-four. She lives in Portland.
MK: Is she married?
MKR: She’s not married, and she’s working in the Portland area. They’ve just rented a house with her partner and they’re Air BNB-ing making some extra money. I just saw her about a month ago. She visited here.
My daughter Allie is thirty-two. I’m going to have my first grandson in March; yes. Allie participated in the women’s (canoe racing) program for the Outrigger through regatta season and then found out she was hapai and pulled out. She’s doing well, baby is doing well. I went with her three weeks ago and did the ultrasound and found out that it’s a boy. That was very emotional, very amazing.
My youngest daughter, Leiney is in Denver. Leiney is into community theater and she’s amazingly talented. She can act and sing and dance, I don’t know where she got it from, but she’s amazing. She’s in Denver. She’s on her own for the first time, going through life’s I’m on my own type of thing and she’s doing well. The girls … Everybody is healthy, everybody is doing well, and I’m just there to support them.
MK: Are any of them members of the Club anymore?
MKR: Kelsie and Allie were members when they were kids. They went away, didn’t live here for several years, and let their memberships go. Allie came back this year as an athletic member, and her athletic membership expires at the end of the year and she’s applying to be a regular member again. In fact, she’s processed through with a sponsor and everything else. I think that the Board just has to make a decision and transition her from athletic membership into a regular member. It’s a great place to raise your kids. She’ll have her son in March or April and she’ll be able to come down here, park in the parking lot, come down here and cruise with the kid on the beach and go to the Snack Shop. You know how it is; it’s wonderful.
MK: Grow up Outrigger. You’ve crossed the channel in six-mans, in one-mans. Did you ever do it on a paddle board?
MKR: I did, and I really got into paddle board racing for a period of time. I had George Downing build me a board; I still have that board. It’s going to be a collector’s item one of these days. When I got divorced, as a matter of fact, I just poured myself into paddle boarding. I was staying in Hawaii Kai in the marina, so I’d put the board in at the marina and paddle to Black Point and back to train. I trained really hard for the race, and the conditions were great. I soloed the channel in 2010 I believe, I soloed on a twelve-foot stock board. It was kind of on my bucket list. I thought about doing it on a standup but I’m not going to, and I thought about doing it in a surf ski but I’m not going to, and I’m not going to swim it. Done.
MK: You’re through with the channel?
MKR: Yeah, for …
MK: For some of those boards?
MKR: Yeah, for some of those boards, yeah.
MK: How did you get involved in paddle boarding?
MKR: Mainly through Cline Mann. You probably know Cline Mann had organized a bunch of paddle board races, gosh, a long time ago. If you remember the races Cline had a weight limit on the boards and they had to be, I think, twenty pounds. If your board was lighter, you had to weight it. Cline was really meticulous about it. If you remember, Cline used to start the races out here and he ended up finishing the races with his Budweiser, and the time, somebody took times and there are times where Cline went like this and …
MK: … with a t-shirt in his hand.
MKR: With a t-shirt in his hand. I looked up to people like Dale Hope, and then Keone Downing and I did a bunch of paddle boarding and then we built the boards. We trained all the time. That was sort of the thing. What the neat thing about living here is, is you can do the one-man thing, you can do the paddle board thing. I was into body surfing, I was into surfing. When you get sick of one thing, you can do another, and there’s so many neat things to do in the ocean. Like we say, surfing isn’t just riding or breaking a wave on a reef; we are surfing in the middle of the channel on open ocean swells or … There are so many ways you could surf, right?
MK: You said Cline got you involved in paddle boarding. How did that happen?
MKR: Well, I think Cline … I looked up to Cline so much, and he was running the races. Some of my role models also paddle boarded and it sort of went hand in hand with some surfing. When the surf was flat, we used to paddle board. We’d paddle boarded out here in the flatwater, but we’d do our downwind runs in Hawaii Kai. The great thing about open ocean surfing, whether it be on a one-man or paddle board, or surf ski or what have you, it’s not crowded. You’re out there, not fighting for waves; there’s waves all over the place. Cline had a huge impact as far as encouraging me, talking about the old days when George Downing used to win the race, or Kiki Spangler used to race. All these guys that were kind of legends and in the sport who I looked up to growing up, I wanted to do it too.
Remember Joe Quigg and George Downing were the only ones that really built boards, paddle boards back then, and this guy; I can’t remember Ige’s name, but you had to go to a certain guy to get a paddle board because not everybody built them. Then they went from foam to hollow, and they were molded. Now you have the unlimited boards with the rudders. I begged George to make me an unlimited board with a rudder but he didn’t do it.
MK: He was more traditional.
MKR: He was traditional, but he said, “You haven’t earned it yet.” That was another thing that we just enjoyed doing in the ocean, and because we were surfing so much it made us better paddlers and better surfers too.
MK: Have you got any Cline stories you can tell us?
MKR: Oh gosh, I don’t … Let me think, gosh! Okay. We were kids, kids as in fourteen, north winds blowing, gosh, twenty, thirty knots, ripping north wind. Walter (Guild) and I are down here late in the afternoon, it’s ripping north wind, it’s wintery, it’s chilly and Cline goes, “I’m getting … I’m going to get the sailboats,” the little sailboats out here, I think it was Scorpion … Sunfish-
MK: Sunfish is what he sailed.
MKR: He set it out for us, and we weren’t sailors, little bit but not a lot; Cline was a sailor. Cline rigged us up, he said, “The wind is a perfect direction, I want you to go out to the windsock, don’t go any farther, and come back in.” Cline rigged the boat up for us, we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. Walter and I just looked at it like this, and we went so fast, in and out and in and out, and Cline was giving us more instruction, do this with the mast and leaning out on the boat.
I remember Cline was in his element, just being in that situation with Walter and I just teaching us, and he just loved it. He had a group of guys that he’s really close to, and Walter and I were in that group. I remember Cline was so happy watching Walter and I go in and out on this boat as kids on this raging north wind. Cline would be the first guy to call me on my birthday every year, before my mom or dad. Cline would be on the phone at 7 a.m., I’d be sleeping, Mom would come in: “It’s Cline.” He’d say “Happy birthday Mark!” I think Cline journaled, Cline was a journalist and he journaled every day. Somebody has his journal someplace. The things he’s probably recorded, you could write an amazing book on the things that Cline journaled.
MK: Well, he was quite a character.
MKR: Yeah, he sure was, great guy.
MK: You said he was supportive of you when you were playing volleyball as well.
MKR: He was. He used to come to the gym, at Klum Gym and bring a cooler full of drinks and snacks and watch us play. Cline was … Yeah, he was only one of a kind. He was amazing.
MK: Well, let’s see, are there any sports that I’ve missed that you were involved in?
MKR: No. Well, speaking of Cline, it’s funny you should say, because I got really into body surfing and I was competing in a body surfing contest at Point Panic and Cline and I were supposed to have dinner down here; I’ll never forget it. I got into the finals, and the waves were really good at Point Panic and Point Panic is an excellent body surfing wave, and I was really late to dinner because the waves were so good I had made the finals, and I remember rushing down here … Any other sports was body surfing.
I competed in a lot of body surfing contests and got really into body surfing; Makapu’u, and Sandy’s, and Point Panic, and Pipeline, and Ehukai Beach and all of that. Body surfing was really the first sport I got involved in, and Chris McKenzie; I just was looking at his picture up here, they lived across the street from us at Portlock Road and Chris was a real avid body surfer and piko boarder. It was before the body boards, and everybody was piko boarding. We used to go piko boarding and skim boarding; we just did everything. I did a lot of body surf.
MK: Was Cline mad at you when you were late?
MKR: No, he was so proud of me because I had made the finals, “Tell me all about it!” I think by that time he had transitioned from his Budweiser into his red wine. When I was growing up, you could drink at the age of eighteen, so Cline was always the guy to buy us our first legal beer; that was the big thing, at eighteen, and you could drive at fifteen, remember?
MKR: Way too young.
MK: I remember when the law got changed. My kids were furious.
MKR: Yeah, for sure.
MK: Well, you’ve certainly been involved in a lot of athletics. Are you still competing in anything?
MKR: I compete in the one-man thing a little bit. I still enjoy it. The incentive is to beat somebody ten or fifteen years younger than me. I only can beat them in the surf. I’m a surfer. That’s where my strengths are, and I’m not so much a flatwater guy but I’ll compete a little bit this year now that I’m retired and I have the time.
MK: That’s wonderful. I have one last question for you. You’ve been an Outrigger member for almost fifty years, that sounds strange to say because to me you’re still a little kid, but what does the Outrigger Canoe Club mean to you?
MKR: I was talking to somebody about this a few months ago, opportunities that I’ve had because I’ve been a member here have enriched my life so incredibly. I go back to volleyball, I don’t know, I wouldn’t have played volleyball and won a State championship at Punahou, gone to Pepperdine on a full scholarship, won a national championship at Pepperdine. I went to Italy, I played six months in Italy. I won some volleyball beach tournaments, just incredible experiences. In regards to the paddling, winning the Molokai championships and going on to the one-man thing, it wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t a member down here. I had no idea.
I’m really grateful for the opportunities and all the great role models that I’ve had down here. All the things that I’ve learned from people that are willing to share their knowledge, because when you’re sharing knowledge, my opinion is you don’t share it with anybody, you kind of pick and choose and you pick and choose those people that are special and that you trust with the information that you’re giving them because you’re probably going to pass it down to somebody else.
Mike Holmes had a huge impact on me too. Mike taught me so many things. Mike is an amazing water man. I’m so grateful for this Club. All these years later, now that I’m retired, I come down here and … It’s an amazing place. It’s got an amazing history and with some incredible water men, incredible athletes and incredible people. This is a great place, really grateful.
MK: The Club has awarded you its Winged “O”, which is the highest award it gives to athletes. You’re in with a bunch of really outstanding Olympians and national champions. How does that feel, to be among those elite folks?
MKR: It feels special. A few of my close friends are there too. It’s funny, because I don’t know when the Winged “O” started, it was in what; in the 1950s, or when did …?
MK: It started in 1968.
MK: Next year will be 50 years.
MKR: I feel very honored. I feel like the selection process has awarded people and honored them, and it’s an incredible honor. It must be tough to really select the people because there’s, in my opinion, there are people that should be Winged “O”s that aren’t, people that I really look up to and respect. I’m very honored. It’s just a tribute to all the people that influenced me. What I’m trying to do now is to pick and choose carefully the people that I want to share what I’ve learned and trust those people with the things that I’ve learned and just passing it on. I think it’s our duty to do that.
MK: To become a mentor.
MKR: Yeah, I do. I think it’s our duty to do that. I take that role very seriously. Some people listen and some people don’t. It’s like when I was being taught things, sometimes I listened and sometimes I didn’t. People that were teaching me things, they knew when I was listening and they knew when I wasn’t. I was argumentative too, because I tested them, “No, that’s not right,” well, they were right. I was just young and stupid and old and wiser, I think; it’s true.
MK: Thank you so much for doing this today. This is going to be a great addition to our archives.
MKR: Well, you’re welcome. It was nice to spend the time, and thank you for doing the research and all the time you’re putting into the project. I think it’s a great project.
MK: Thank you very much.
Molokai to Oahu Canoe Race – OCC Crews
1986 1st Open
1987 1st Open
1988 1st Open
1990 1st Open, 1st Koa
2000 5th Overall, 1st Masters
2006 18th Overall, 1st Masters 40
2007 8th Overall
2011 7th Overall
Hawaii State Canoe Racing Association Championships – OCC Crews
1973 Boys 16
1974 Boys 18
1996 Sophomore Men
2009 Men 50
Macfarlane Regatta Championships – OCC Crews
1987 Junior Men
1988 Junior Men
1989 Open 4
1993 Mixed Open
1972 1st, OCC Club Championships, Junior Men
1972 3rd, Hawaii State Junior Surfing Championship
OCC Teams at USVBA National Championships
1978 2nd, Open
1983 2nd, Open 1st team All-America
1984 2nd, Open
1987 4th, Open
1990 2nd, Open 1st team All-America
Duke Kahanamoku Sand Volleyball Doubles Championships
1984 1st with Mark Haine
1985 1st with Jon Andersen
1990 3rd with Kainoa Downing
Junior-Senior Doubles Volleyball Championship
1975 1st with Kainoa Downing
1987 1st Haili Men’s Tournament, 1st Team All-Tournament
1987 9th, Miller Lite Pro Beach Tournament, with Marc Haine
1989 4th, Pro-Am Beach Tournament, with Marc Haine
1990 1st, OCC Open Doubles with Kainoa Downing
1991 1st, Waikiki Winter Ocean 10K Race
1991 1st, Duke Championships, Men 35-39
1991 8th, Labor Day Paddleboard Race
1992 1st, Independence Day Race, Senior Men
1992 1st, Duke Championships, Men 35-39
1993 1st, Duke Championships, Men 35-39
1996 1st, Waikiki Winter Ocean 10K Race
1998 1st, Waikiki Winter Ocean 10K Race
2004 3rd, Hennessey’s International Paddleboard Race, Men 40-49, Stock
Molokai World Challenge
1996 1st OC1 (record 4:17:35)
1997 1st OC1 (record 4:14:52)
1998 1st, OC1
1999 2nd, OC1
2017 1st, OC1 Men 50 Relay
Hawaii State OC1 Championship
1997 1st Place
1998 1st Place
2000 2nd Place
2003 1st Place, Men 40-49
Oahu OC1 Championship
1995 1st Place
1996 1st Place
1999 1st Place
2000 2nd Place
2003 1st, Men 40-49
2005 9th Place
2017 1st Men 57-63
Kaiwi Channel Relay
1994 1st, Open with Courtney Seto
1995 4th, Open with Courtney Seto
1997 2nd, Open with Walter Guild
1998 2nd, Open with Walter Guild
1999 1st, Open with Marc Haine
2000 3rd, Open with Marc Haine
2001 1st, OC2 with Marc Haine and Greg Poole
2003 3rd, Open with Mike Judd
1997 1st, OC1 with Walter Guild
1998 1st, OC 1 with Walter Guild
1999 1st, OC1 with Marc Haine
2005 9th, OC1 with Greg Poole
Service to the Outrigger Canoe Club
Beach & Water Safety Committee