This oral history interview is a project of the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The legal right to 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.
An interview by Paul A. Dolan
May 3, 2005
PAD: I am Paul Arthur Dolan (PAD), a member of the Outrigger Canoe Club’s Historical Committee. For sometime the Committee has been conducting oral interviews of prominent members of our Club. Today, it is my pleasure to interview Mark Eric Buck (MEB), past president (1988-89, a one-year term) and long time member of the Outrigger Canoe Club. We are in the Board Room of the Club on a beautiful Hawaiian day. Good morning, Mark.
MEB: Good morning, Paul.
PAD: Let’s start with your family. How did you get here? Where were you born and to whom?
MEB: I was born in San Francisco on August 14, 1945 to Frederick Eugene Buck and Nancy Glaser Buck. We moved here in January 1948 because my father was hired to be a men’s wear buyer at McInerny store replacing Ross Sutherland and later went to work for Alfred Shaheen’s before eventually going out on his own. Around 1950 my mother joined the Outrigger Canoe Club when they had a membership drive. I think it was all of $100 to join. So they struggled with it and from that point in time they dragged me with them to the Club.
PAD: Yes, I remember you and the rest of the contingent here at the Club. How about your siblings?
MEB: I have an older brother, Mike and two younger sisters, Maureen and Maile. My brother Mike was four, I was two, and my sister Maureen was an infant when we arrived in Hawaii. Maile is the only one born and raised in Hawaii and she is the baby of the family. They are all now married and have grown children of their own and there is a second generation of Club members; seven strong.
PAD: What are they all doing now?
MEB: My brother’s daughter has two children of her own. He’s a grandfather twice. His daughter is between jobs and has one child in high school and one in elementary school.
My sister Maureen runs the business my Mom started years ago called The Sample Shop. She’s married to Bill Kilcoyne and they have two grown children. Bryan, goes by Kekoa, is married and lives in San Diego. Then Keala, a DOE teacher, is at Koko Head School.
My sister Maile has two children. Koa and Kia, are both college grads. Koa is currently in law school and sister Kia just came back to Hawaii and she is currently looking for a job. Previously she was working on cruise ships
PAD: A very successful family. How about your immediate family?
MEB: In October 1968 I married Linda Statsler. I have been single since 1980. My own two children I might add are David, a 31 year old (2/2/74), graduated from the University of California, Irvine. He’s an accomplished athlete on his own, participating in national kayaking for years and been involved in canoe paddling since he was 12 years old. He currently is a firefighter and also a residential real estate agent. He is married to Megan Goldman Buck and they live in the Diamond Head area. They have been married a year and a half now. They are expecting their first child in February 2006, which would be my first grandchild.
My daughter, Shelley (3/6/76), lives on Maui. She works at David Paul’s restaurant in Lahaina. She’s 29 years old and she’s worked for that particular restaurant for 10 years. She also has a little band of her own for other entertainment.
PAD: What’s Mike doing?
MEB: Mike is a radio personality and has his own talk show on KHVH everyday for a number of years.
PAD: OK! Let’s get back to you. How about your education?
MEB: I went from kindergarten to the sixth grade at Star of the Sea School. The next five years I spent at Punahou and my last year of high school at Roosevelt. I attended four years at the University of Hawaii. I was a business administration major about a semester and a half short for a degree when I went to work in my father’s business because his partner passed away and he needed someone to fill that position. The longer I worked the more difficult it was to go back to school, which I never did.
PAD: That’s too bad about the degree. What’s been your career?
MEB: As I mentioned earlier I went to work in 1967 for my father and he had three retail stores in Waikiki. The business was actually started by my mother and her partner. From that point on I hit the ground running. He spent a lot of time on the mainland and I was given pretty much of the decisions and control. A year later my older brother Mike left the radio business in Australia and joined us. (I was still considered the number two guy). Through the next years until 1983 we grew to twenty-three stores and considerable volume increases. The business was subsequently sold by my father, the sole shareholder. I was then out on my own with no job or income. I started my own business which I ran for a couple of years in the retail clothing field. In 1985 I got my real estate license and at the end of that year I went to work in commercial real estate. It’s been a twenty year career. I’m currently with a company called Commercial Real Estate Services, Inc. I’ve been there about five years. The owner of the company is a good friend and Club member and I enjoy it.
PAD: Are you a Broker yet?
MEB: I’ve been a licensed Broker since 1990.
PAD: That’s when you receive a real piece of the action. That’s fantastic Mark. You’ve had a successful life so far. What about the Outrigger Canoe Club? How did you get introduced?
MEB: I was introduced by default. I was a child of a member and dragged to the Club on weekends and during the summers. My parents thought it was fine for me to learn to surf and swim. Later on when my parents started their business in Waikiki I would be deposited at the Club for the summer months. I participated in the Summer Fun Program when Bill Monahan was doing it with a few other members. I learned and participated in the Club sports in surfing, volleyball and paddling. As I went through high school I spent more time playing volleyball than I did surfing and paddling. Paddling somehow hooked me so when I was a junior in high school I did something they don’t allow anymore. I paddled by first Molokai to Oahu Race which was quite an experience. In 1961 there were nine boats in the race. The OCC came in fourth with four teenagers in the crew.
PAD: You started the race from where?
MEB: Then we started from Kawakiu Bay. We slept on the beach the night before the race. We had to paddle out to the escort boat. It was flat the day before and later turned into a Kona storm on race day. Our time was 9-hours 15- minutes. Two of our crew got sick so the youngsters paddled the bulk of the race.
PAD: What were the substitution rules?
MEB: Then the rules were open. The crews could be substituted at any time. We had nine paddlers and substituted from one to three paddlers. Our escort boat was Dudley Lewis’ boat the LEI MALIA and it had a turning radius that seemed like two miles, so we couldn’t make many changes. I’m amazed that no one was hurt. The following year I actually was cut from the crew and I rode the escort boat. That was the first year we saw the Perry family from Lanikai use the two-boat system. One being the escort boat and the other the chase boat used for changing the crew. We picked up on it the following years. In 1963-64 I actually left the OCC program and paddled for Healani because our coach then was “Rabbit” Kekai and after he cut me from the crew I didn’t think there was much future. The good part about paddling for another club is I was appreciated more and learned a lot as far as canoe rigging and repair. I would have never learned that at OCC in those days because George Downing or “Rabbit” would do it all. It was personalities.
PAD: All politics. Both George and “Rabbit” were paid employees at the time.
MEB: In later years coaches received a stipend for the efforts.
PAD: What was the total number of years you paddled the Molokai race?
MEB: I have paddled thirty-three races. We won five as first to finish and in the thirty-five and over, won five and forty-five and over, won two so I have a dozen first places. My son made me count it all one year. I have finishing photos of the winning crews that I’ve kept. I have a pretty good library of photos and also the T-shirt for each year. One received a T-shirt for each year they paddled.
PAD: What was your most harrowing crossing of the Molokai Channel?
MEB: I’d say 1961 was harrowing because of the inexperience of me and all involved. The type of escort boats we were using and the arrival of a Kona storm.
PAD: You were steering?
MEB: No, I was paddling (seat) number 3, 4 or 5. In 1966 we had won the previous year and we had a crew that was not as good. We were better than the competition. We led the race and at a point in time we had broken two of the zippers on our covers. It was the kind of sea conditions that they would not run the race today with small craft advisories. The escort boats just wouldn’t go. We couldn’t get our boat bailed. It took us an hour and a half taking the canoe apart and physically putting it aboard the 55-foot HULA KAI, the boat Sherry Dowsett owned. We got the canoe back broken, but we got it back. The defending champs, Kailua Canoe Club, lost their canoe. In 1968 which we won was quite rough. We flipped over our ama and got going again, giving up the lead.
PAD: With the foreign crews participating, shouldn’t they have a separate division for them?
MEB: No, put them all together. We’ve seen a couple of clubs, including the Outrigger and Lanikai, prevail a number of times competing in an outstanding fashion. Basically, most of their crews are made up of kids that grew up in that club and are still there. We don’t seem to have that luxury here anymore. Many of our paddlers paddle elsewhere for many reasons. Lanikai is a good club to look at to try to understand what makes them work.
PAD: How outstanding! You were the Club coach for how many years?
MEB: For about seven or eight years. In 1967 was my first year of being head coach of the Outrigger Canoe Club paddling program. That particular year we won the State Championship. I was head coach for a number of years in 60’s and 70’s. In 1970 we won all of the regattas and the State Championship. During those years I was paddling in the senior men’s crew. We won a lot of races, but not the senior race in the State Championships. Later on when I came back as a coach and paddler in 1974 we had a five year run of winning the Senior Men’s state championship, different distance races, and two Molokai Races.
PAD: With the paddling regime it seems that when paddling season begins each year the Club has a difficult time in winning races. Is it because the kids haven’t return from college? Do you know why?
MEB: That used to be the case, but now that doesn’t affect us anymore. There’s a long number of reasons why the Club doesn’t do as well as it used to. A lot of it is due to legislation against the Club by the small clubs in the Association. There’s too much information to consider now.
PAD: The HCRA was started up by this Club. The canoe racing committee had lots to do with it. Bill Morris, Bill Capp, Robert Fischer and others. Sam Fuller was the first president. At one time quite a number of paddlers went to other clubs. A case in point is Fred Hemmings Jr. who paddled with Hui Nalu. His reason was to help develop other clubs in the art. It also became quite an inner sanctum here at the Club and only selected individuals would be able to do things, like tie the canoes up, etc.
MEB: There are a number of different reasons why paddlers leave the Club. Sometimes they are not good enough and go elsewhere, maybe live closer to other clubs where making practice would be difficult, or they are good and they don’t get a fair shot to be placed in a crew. Once in awhile we get them back because they appreciate what the Club has.
PAD: Wow! How about volleyball?
MEB: Volleyball was probably my favorite sport as a young person. I played high school volleyball the first year they introduced to ILH (Interscholastic League). All of my volleyball skills came from playing at the Outrigger. I worked my way up from the “baby” court to the senior court. Punahou’s first team was all Outrigger players and we very easily won that first year. I played all the way through high school and college and probably every tournament at the Club I could play in. I was able to watch some of the greatest players at the old Club where they had the tournaments. The finals were on the “B” court and one could watch from the bar and could enjoy the view of the spectators. After moving in to the new Club, probably ten years into it in the 70’s I stopped playing because of job and family, paddling and volleyball, something had to go.
PAD: You did play in tournaments?
MEB: I played in tournaments at and for the Outrigger. At one time our better players went to play for the YMCA because they were sending their teams to the mainland. We had a group put together by Ron Sorrell with Billy Baird, Peter Balding Sr. and myself and a few others. I also played for the University of Hawaii-Manoa and I later played for some pickup teams. I played for the last time for the Outrigger was at the Nationals here at the Outrigger where they were able to put together three teams. We only made it through a few matches.
PAD: Did you ever play in the Nationals on the mainland?
MEB: No, never did.
PAD: Wow! Now they are sending them every year. One of the reoccurring tournaments is the Haili Men’s Club in Hilo. Did you play in those tournaments?
MEB: No, I didn’t. Haili is like our State tournament championships. Unfortunately, volleyball was to start at the Club in the sand courts. Now a day lots of kids join to play volleyball so they can get on a team that goes to the mainland, which really means no playing here at the Club.
PAD: I know with the Haili Men’s Club we have a number of winning trophies. We don’t know where to store them. (laughter) How about surfing?
MEB: I grew up at baby Canoes. I first learned at the old Club. I had a hollow surfboard. I had to lift it out of the water and undo the drain plug and drain it out. It had no skeg. It was a red board. I paid my dues at Baby surf (in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel) and then I moved over to Canoes and later with another board I was accepted at Queen’s Surf. The last board I had there was a balsa fiberglass board. A person named Ted Wilson made it, a ten-footer. In the early 60’s George Downing brought in the first foam boards to Hawaii and I bought one of those and continued to surf until the transition to “short” boards.
PAD: The manufacturing technologies of surfboards have changed so greatly. One now sees surfers doing 360’s and performing quick turns that we could not have done on the old redwood planks prior to the 50’s.
MEB: The nice thing is that the “long boards” have come back into use. Guys that grew up surfing on the “short boards” are now into “long boards” and it’s very pleasant doing it in front of the Club.
PAD: Do you know the real name of Baby surf?
PAD: It’s called Cornucopia. The remaining waves from Popular Surf and Blowholes come in at an angle and form a peak which resembles a cornucopia which was the best place to catch a wave. What do you think of surf rage?
MEB: I think it unfortunate. It’s something that has been tolerated for so long and it’s accepted by the community and it shouldn’t be.
PAD: I think it’s brought about by population pressure and racism.
MEB: Racism and population pressure. Even local people if you surf in a different local spot then you’re in trouble and you get picked on. I remember a story when Fred Hemmings, not long after he was a surf champ and football player, a pretty strong guy, he was at Makaha and a couple kids tried to pick on him and he went on shore and was ready to “beef” all three of them and luckily “Buffalo” Keaulana showed up and told them to leave this haole alone and that was all it took. (laughter)
PAD: I know of several cases where a haole guy went surfing and he was a good surfer. Well, right away the locals picked on him and really beat him up. Some more on paddling. . .
MEB: After I was able to win a number of Molokai races I realized that it was time to move on and make way for the younger paddlers. We got together a group of “older paddlers” in 1984. It was the first year they had the Masters, 35 and over. I gathered Marshall Rosa, Tom Conner, Fred Hemmings, Tim Guard, John Finney, Steve Quinn, Mike Clifford and Mike Muller. We trained whenever we could and we couldn’t get a final commitment from Marshall till we were on Molokai, because he paddled for Hui Nalu and “Pinky” Thompson was reluctant to sign his release, which he finally did. We started the race, a nine-man 35 and over crew, the first year they had the division. Everybody laughed at us and said we wouldn’t even finish. I was the coach of the crew and at the last minute we got Tom Conner into the crew. The six individuals who sat in the canoe at the beginning of the race had never been in the canoe together before. All nine men that raced that day had never ever practiced together as a crew. We started the race at Hale-O-Lono Harbor and halfway to La`au Point we found ourselves in the lead. Subsequently, we were passed by Offshore Canoe Club. Later, Outrigger’s first crew, I’m sure I was in shock, passed by us. They later passed Offshore, but we never fell back. We came in third overall and won the 35 and over division. It was fun paddling in an older division. Our motto was: “Finish in the top ten and ruin a lot of kids’ Sundays.” (laughter)
PAD: That’s super. (laughter) Did you do any other kind of sports, such as motorcycling, tennis, golf, etc.?
MEB: Yes, I was part of the early group that started the motorcycle riding at the Outrigger. A number of times we went to the Big Island and raced the Mauna Kea 200. I was more of a participant than a competitor or a serious threat to win anything. Tommy Conner and Kala Judd have won trophies. It was part of the Island that I never would have seen and a fun group of guys to be with, but after awhile I realized it was little bit costly and when you got hurt. . . I had a number of different bikes. I had a Husquvanna 430, which I bought from Malcolm Smith and sold to John Finney. I played a lot of tennis for a while. We had an Outrigger group that played every Sunday afternoon. That was a fun thing
The other sport I took on years ago when I was in high school was paddling Olympic type kayaks with Nappy Napoleon. In 1964 we tried out for the Olympics. We had times that were faster than mainland times. Unfortunately, the team we always beat here in the two-man barely lost out to go to the Olympics. It would be a matter being there and not doing well, but at least we would qualify and put me in a neat spot when the one-man races started with surf skis.
The kid from Australia, Grant Kenny won the Molokai Oahu Race and left one of the boats behind and a couple of guys here bought it. I went out there and watched them and said: “Can I try?” They said “OK, but it’s kind of tippy and here’s how to hold the paddle.” Fred Hemmings and the rest of them were falling into the ocean. I jumped on and paddled out to the windsock and caught a wave and came back in and said it was fine. They were a little “mad” at me. We helped, Marshall Rosa and ourselves, start the interest in kayaks in the Club. It has led to the activity it is today.
PAD: Was that the straight kayak or the OC-1?
MEB: It was actually the surf ski. At a later time we also started the HCKT (Hawaii Canoe and Kayak Team.) That was to promote these kids to go and hopefully make the National and Olympic team. Quite a few Outrigger members have been on the National Team, gone to the Olympics, and were among the fastest juniors. That is still going today. The Outrigger used to sponsor a surf ski race. I think at one time we had over one-hundred surf skis in the race. Little by little when they started with the one-man canoes, over the years we welcomed them and today it’s pretty much a one-man association with maybe 80% or more one-man canoes and the balance surf skis. Surf skis are still a faster craft.
PAD: I am amazed that the OC’s, the one-man canoes have come about. I would think the kayaks would be faster.
MEB: The OC’s are fast. They are just about there with the speed due to the design and number of good athletes paddling OC1 canoes. The difference is that it’s mostly a local sport dominated by Hawaii paddlers. Looking at all the races, Molokai etc. and most of the OC’s are local where in the surf ski race one might not see a participant from Hawaii in the top ten, but there might not be a non Hawaii paddler in the top ten in the OC1 class. The first surf skis will be well ahead of the one-man OC’s.
When I was finishing up in college and deciding what I was going to do. I had worked construction doing the summer. One summer they (OCC) asked me if I would be one of the leaders/workers in the OCC Summer Program. Back then it was a neat deal where we taught kids to surf, how to paddle, how to sail. We worked on their swimming and volleyball. Some of the people that worked with me were Tommy Holmes; Dave Pierson was the head guy and several other trainers. Quite a number of the kids went through the program ended up being some of the better paddlers and volleyball players. We had a good sized group. We’d take them in the Club van out to Makapu`u or Sandy Beach. We’d separate the kids by ability. We took some field trips. It was a very good program and it ran its course due to other activities. The few years of that program produced good watermen and athletes.
PAD: That’s super. I see that they have brought the program back. I think Don Isaccs is running it.
MEB: But very much modified from my time. At that point it was my first step in giving back to the Club. I, at age 20, became head coach. We had a handful of volunteers and formalized the canoe racing committee. Cline Mann was then the Club Captain and I chaired the committee and was head coach. Very often now since it has grown so big the canoe racing committee, the representative to the OHCRA (Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Assn.), the head coach and the Club Captain are now three difference individuals. I was all of them and knew what was going on in total. It got me involved in the sport and it got me involved giving back helping out some others. We won the State Championship that year and won the Molokai-Oahu Canoe Race in 1967, where Albert Lemes was the coach, but I got it started. It didn’t work as well being a paddler/coach. In 1968 we won the Molokai-Oahu Canoe Race again, breaking the record by a greater margin.
It was first year of the Winged “O” program (Awarded to outstanding athletes of the Club). They gave the first award to Duke Kahanamoku. I was all excited and cheering and the next thing I know they called my name, being the head coach and winning Molokai two years in a row. So technically I received the second “Winged O” award at the ripe age of twenty-three.
My presence in the Club and my name recognition all contributed to being asked to be a member of the nominating committee and when I walked into the meeting I was told I was no longer on the nominating committee since they had already nominated me to run for the Board. I was elected and went on to serve 14 years through a number of terms. 1974 was my first year being a Director of the Club. I was in my twenties and felt a bit young, but if I was wanted I had the time. I was a businessman and understood athletics and understood business.
PAD: I going to save you some time to recount all the positions you served on the Board. You were heavy duty.
Year Officer/Director Coordinating Director
1975 Assistant Secretary
1984 Director Athletics
1985 Director Admission & Membership
1986 Treasurer Finance
1989 Director Athletics
1997 Assistant Secretary Building & Grounds
MEB: I was fortunate with my fourteen years on the Board to be an officer most of the time. It put me on the Executive Committee as well and I wasn’t required to be a coordinating director and an officer because of the time requirements. We did have special committees such as finance and a few others that I chaired.
PAD: From the time that you started on the Board, beginning in 1974 and ending up in 1997, with several breaks it was quite a record of service. Were there any interesting happenings that you can recollect that really stood out?
MEB: It’s difficult to isolate any one of them. We had disciplinary issues to deal with.
PAD: That’s always! (laughter)
MEB: When I first started we were only ten years into the new Club, so we didn’t have any of the concerns with maintenance as the current Board does. We did go through some management changes in two of my times on the Board. I was part of two executive search committees. That I found quite interesting trying to find someone to serve four thousand bosses (members). We did deal with issues pertaining to athletics and classes of membership and admission which got kind of feisty at times. We also made a few one informal and one formal approach to our landlord to buy the property and I was on that committee and we learned that nothing was going to work with them.
PAD: I don’t think it will happen will it?
MEB: It’s not going to happen until maybe after lease renegotiations. Even then it won’t happen until they (The Elks) know what their status will be in the next fifty years. We’ll only get one shot at it and then it could change.
I was on the Board for six years initially—Three two-year terms and then I had to get off which I did. Getting toward the end of my fifth year I was Vice-President for Activities and another gentlemen was Vice-President for operations. He was a Vice-President of Bank of Hawaii, a nice older gentlemen that totally supported athletics and something strange happened. We were both asked if we wanted to be president. Our responses were similar—I said: “I loved to be president, but if it’s between Nick and me, I’m young. If this is his only chance Nick should get it.” When Nick was asked, Nick said: “Between Mark and I, Mark deserves it he’s always around the Club. He should get it. Unfortunately, we never discussed it together and both of us would have liked to have been president. Someone who was “below” us leapfrogged and became president. So I got off the Board for my mandatory year. Some of the past presidents felt bad that I hadn’t become President and asked me to run for the Board again. I finished up year twelve. I was done and figured I let others serve on the Board. A few years down the road my best friend, Tim Guard, was going to be president and asked me if I would come back to help him out. Because of my friendship and my experience I said I would. I got on for a two-year term and was Secretary and on Tim’s Executive Committee. The second year I was the coordinating director and felt that 14 years were enough.
PAD: What do you think of the membership count? We’re up to forty-seven hundred plus members in various categories.
MEB: I personally feel we have too many members and some mistakes have been made with classification changes by some of the more recent Boards. The count is misleading because of the member categories.
PAD: The Nonresident member category really concerns me.
MEB: It doesn’t bother me too much because, unless they are cheating, they have limited use of the Club each year and it’s more expensive to join the Club. They pay a lot more to get in which I was opposed to. They don’t have a vote. It’s a “catch-22.” Our previous manager, John Rader, did a good job bringing the food and beverage back into profitable items and getting people to use the Club. On a Friday night it doesn’t take many people here with the paddling program in progress to use the Club and families that can’t get to the Club to use it.
At a past-presidents luncheon the participants were in effect telling the Admission Committee members to fill all slots, which I was opposed to. The quota was manipulated in combining intermediate and regular membership, because intermediate was never full and members always moved through, which gave room to bring in more people, and the Club doesn’t need the cash. Certainly we can use the revenue with additional dues. Now we’re at a point, from what I understand, some Nonresident members have now become regular members and we are going to see a three to four year wait to get into the Club. I was always OK with two years. The other problem this causes is that we will be unable to get in good young intermediate members to help out with the paddling program. When they accelerated everything I didn’t agree with it. I know of some people that will have to wait.
PAD: Considering where the initiation fee is going to the Building Fund has been a real boon. Do you know what the latest figure is?
MEB: No, because our investments took a little hit in the stock market two different times, but I’m guessing we’re got to be somewhere about $15 million.
PAD: At the last annual meeting the Treasurer’s Report listed membership equity to be $20 million. No loans are outstanding. Not many clubs have this much “juice.”
MEB: I’d say that the biggest dilemma facing us right now is the fact that we have a lot of cash and originally it was designated for the “building fund” and it is really a “land fund.” For capital improvement I see nothing wrong in using it. However, some of our more recent Boards had the feeling that we should spend some of this money. I was on the opposition side at the very beginning at the plan of the renovation of the fitness center and the design and location and the cost and the concept.
I personally did not join the Club as a kid like a lot of people did, to join a gym. I joined a beach club. I’m a member of a gym that I go to. It was something we had to give the members for recruitment of new members. Times have changed and I backed off. I think if we can build a fitness center at a proper price I think I could support it.
PAD: I think after the rent reopening with the Elks there will be some changes with reference to the Building Fund.
MEB: There will. There sure will be some form of improvements.
PAD: This brings us to the subject of OCC-2. What do you think of OCC-2?
MEB: Well, that’s what I was alluding to. I think somewhere along the line that the Board abdicated control of the OCC-2 Committee. Well-meaning individuals worked very hard but failed. They were bound and determined to do something and they came up with a couple of different proposals, but the meeting I attended showed it was far from overwhelming support. The older members supported the Club over the years helped to get us where we are. It was all these newer younger members that have joined the Club, and are in their thirties, don’t want to spend the money to join a gym. They expect the Club to provide one.
PAD: During your tenure as president, when you really had the hands-on purpose of direction, what were some of the challenges?
MEB: The primary challenge was the business one, keeping the Club financially sound. In prior year we had taken a hit on our Building Fund due to the stock market with the October 1987 crash. We had to re-allocate and re-deploy and change the money managers to go forward. We then had a manager who had done a good job, but it was to a point we had out-grown him and that was a frustrating thing for me. I got along well with him and worked with him and his staff, but we could see the fact that we as officers and directors come and go and a lot of people were dissatisfied. I didn’t want the challenge of replacement during my watch. I didn’t have the time and I felt it was appropriate and I could see it was coming. We had a good year. We had success in sports which I can’t recall our exact activity with State Championships in paddling and volleyball. We had a sound year financially.
PAD: During your tenure was there a great amount of membership growth?
MEB: It was a moderate membership growth. It was an attrition growth–some in and some out. During my years on the Board, I thanked Peter Balding and a hand-full of individuals like him who were very cognizant of the quota and we absolutely wanted to hover around the forty-four hundred number. We have since gone way over and it scares me. We did some studies that were shocking. Of all the kids that joined the Club in the 60’s. I would have expected 80% would still be around. The study showed an inversion…It was 20%.
PAD: I think jobs are a primary point in the retention of members. My two oldest had to go to the mainland to get half-way decent wages. They all wanted to stay in Hawaii.
MEB: Fortunately, I have my son here and my daughter on Maui. I think what happens is when one is a child, by Club rules, has to join. Lot of kid-members join because they are almost forced to. So they may paddle a little bit or play some volleyball which they certainly don’t have to do. I see a lot of new families coming here hoping that there is something about the Club I hope will stick. They don’t seem to be part of the same mold as we are used to seeing.
PAD: Where there any other “little goodies” that happened during your tenure?
MEB: One of the things I did as President in 1988. I was quite concerned on how the committees were formed and the fact that some of the committee members never changed and other committee members would get tired and leave. Neither situation was good. I instituted a Board policy that I believe is in affect to this day, but not always followed, that a third of each committee be replaced each year which would then give continuity and renewed blood and everything else. I’ll never forget George Cook, who was my coordinating director, came to me in a panic saying: “Gosh Mark, that’s really going to be hard with the Historical Committee, because we can’t get enough members to serve on it.” I said to George: “That it was a rule of thumb.” Some committees might replace their members by fifty percent and for understandable reasons the Historical might remains intact, but we needed something to get new blood into the committees and make the coordinating directors go through the cards (sign-up cards for committee service) and make the effort instead of just accepting the previous committee.
I’d like to fast forward. Since I was last on the Board I’ve stayed involved in the Club from the standpoint of watching what is going on, talking to members, and not wanting to get back into the running. I feel we’ve had some good Boards and some no-so-good Boards, but I thank all those members for running. To this day I’m always amazed at how impressed my business associates and friends are that have never been to the Club. When I bring them here we have something to be proud of. That’s something we’ve got to strive to maintain. The membership, fortunately, through the Historical and Public Relations Committees hopefully can keep all this going.
I find myself coming to the Club probably three days a week and sometimes five or six, depending on whether I’m paddling or whatever time of the year it is and it’s good to see that our current manager doing a good job and our current staff, I think, is doing the same. We have wisely out-sourced a lot of our work. It’s a way to get people that are experts in their field and not have to worry about whether our employees are able to do the job.
PAD: You have provided some interesting insights of the Club. Thank you Mark for all your input to this oral history. It has been a pleasure to interview you.
MEB: You’rE welcome, Paul.
1968 Elected to Winged “O”
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE OUTRIGGER CANOE CLUB
Board of Directors
1974 Coordinating Director
1975 Assistant Secretary
1979 Vice President, Activities
1984 Coordinating Director Athletics and Winged “O”
1985 Coordinating Director Admissions & Membership
1986 Treasurer, Coordinating Director Historical
1987 Vice President, Operations
1989 Coordinating Director Athletics
1997 Assistant Secretary, Coordinating Director Building &Grounds
Canoe Racing Committee
Head Canoe Racing Coach
1961 4th Place
1965 1st Place
1966 DNF Leilani damaged by high surf
1967 1st Place
1968 1st Place
1969 2nd Place
1970 3rd Place
1971 2nd Place
1972 6th Place
1974 3rd Place
1975 1st Place
1976 7th Place
1977 1st Place
1978 4th Place
1984 3rd Place Overall, 1st Masters
1985 21st Place Overall, 2nd Masters
1987 9th Place Overall, 1st, Masters 35
1988 13th Place Overall, 2nd Masters 35
1989 23rd Place Overall, 3rd Masters 35
1990 14th Place Overall, 1st Masters 35
1991 21st Place Overall, 2nd Masters 35
1992 13th Place Overall, 1st Masters 35
1993 10th Place Overall, 1st, Masters 35
1994 2nd Masters 35
1998 1st Masters 45
HCRA State Championships
1960 Boys 14
1962 Boys 17
1974 Senior Men
1975 Senior Men
1976 Senior Men
1977 Senior Men
1982 Open 4
1984 Junior Masters
1985 Masters Men
1986 Masters Men
1987 Masters Men
1990 Masters Men
1991 Masters Men
1992 Mixed Men & Women
1996 Mixed Masters
1998 Masters 45
2008 Masters 55
2009 Masters 55
2014 Masters 65
Macfarlane Regatta Championships
1966 Senior Men
1968 Senior Men
1972 Senior Men
1973 Senior Men
1974 Senior Men
1975 Senior Men
1976 Senior Men
1977 Senior Men
1991 Masters 35
1994 Junior Men
1995 Masters 35
1998 Masers 35
2009 Masters 55
2011 Masters 60
2012 Masters 65
2014 Masters 65
Club Cribbage Champion
2014 with Mike Buck
OCC Volleyball Team
1970 7th Place, USA Volleyball Championships
Numerous Kanaka Ikaika race wins