Outrigger Canoe Clubs: Honoring Old Hawaii’s Sports Legacy

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The Outrigger Canoe Club: Connecting People with Nature

Let’s Rediscover the Spirit of Old Hawaii

Where sun, sand, sea, and Aloha prevail

Dedicated in January 1964

Over a century has passed since its establishment, yet the Outrigger Canoe Club remains a vibrant hub where the traditions of Old Hawaii are cherished.

The club boasts a diverse range of active ocean sports programs, including canoe racing, sailing, surfing, fishing, stand-up paddleboarding, and ocean swimming. On land, members compete in volleyball, running, and golf, both outdoors and indoors.

Our colors, crimson and white, symbolize the spirit of unity and camaraderie that binds us together.

Outrigger’s legacy extends beyond Hawaii’s shores, playing a pivotal role in reviving and promoting ocean sports worldwide.

Earliest OCC grass shack, circa 1908
Earliest OCC facilities, grass shacks, circa 1908

A Rich History Rooted in Waikiki

Our story began in April 1908 when a group of forward-thinking Honolulu businessmen, led by Alexander Hume Ford, sought to establish the Outrigger Canoe and Surfing Club at Waikiki Beach. Their aim was to create a haven for surfboarding enthusiasts and an opportunity for those living away from the waterfront to keep their surfboards.

On May 1, 1908, the Outrigger Canoe Club officially opened its doors. Nestled between the Moana and Seaside Hotels, the club’s original location spanned 1.5 acres on Waikiki Beach. The picturesque Apuakehau Stream flowed through the property, forming a tranquil lagoon alongside the club.

OCC Pavilion
OCC Pavilion

Authentic Hawaiian grass houses were lovingly restored and became integral parts of the club. One served as a storage shed for canoes and surfboards, while the other became a dressing room facing the mesmerizing ocean. The first shower, a simple pipe with a showerhead amidst the branches of a hau tree, symbolized the club’s commitment to innovation and resourcefulness. A shelter made of coconut fronds provided additional storage for canoes, and a vibrant hau tree grove transformed into the Hau Tree Lanai and a pavilion for dancing and social events, overlooking the lagoon.

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The Outrigger Canoe Club gained recognition when it held its inaugural water carnival on July 19, 1908, welcoming the Great White Fleet to Waikiki. The event showcased surfboard demonstrations, canoe races, and a spectacular aquatic parade.

Frank Clark Cup
Frank Clark Cup

In 1910, the Club organized a surfboard contest and canoe races for a visiting cruise line. This landmark event, known as the Frank Clark Cup, awarded the Best Woman Surfer title to Josephine C. Pratt. It marked the Club’s inaugural trophy presentation, becoming the first-ever surfing trophy awarded and the first surfing contest won by a woman. The men’s event was initially scheduled for 1910 but was eventually held seven years later, with Ernest Cook emerging as the victor.

The Outrigger Canoe Club’s annual 4th of July canoe regatta, inaugurated in 1910 when several Navy ships graced Honolulu’s harbor, remains a cherished tradition. Named the Walter J. Macfarlane Memorial Regatta, it stands as the world’s longest-running outrigger canoe regatta and the only surf race of the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association regatta season.

Embracing a Diverse Sporting Legacy

During its formative years, Outrigger Canoe Club primarily focused on ocean sports. However, in 1917, a pivotal disagreement among the Board of Directors led to a division within the club. One faction championed recreational ocean sports and social activities, while the other, led by Club Captain George “Dad” Center, saw the potential for the club to form teams and participate in various amateur sports, including football, basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, and track and field. This marked the beginning of Outrigger’s foray into land-based sports.

As an amateur athletic club, the OCC has played an active role in the AAU for many years. While the club supports and encourages its professional athletes, it does not sponsor or provide financial support for their endeavors.

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With approximately 4,900 members ranging from 10 years old to seniors, the Outrigger Canoe Club remains a private club. To represent the club in competitions, athletes must become members themselves.

In 1964, when the club’s lease on the original Waikiki site expired, Outrigger gracefully transitioned to its current home at 2909 Kalakaua Avenue, located at the foot of Diamond Head. Here, members continue to savor ocean and land sports, perpetuating the legacy of Old Hawaii’s sports throughout the year.

Cherished Milestones and Remarkable Achievements

As proud custodians of Outrigger’s rich heritage, we celebrate numerous milestones and achievements:

  • Throughout the years, 46 Outrigger members have proudly represented the United States in the Olympic Games. This esteemed group includes the legendary Duke Kahanamoku, a gold medal-winning swimmer who was an active member of OCC from 1919 until his passing in 1968. Duke was not only revered for introducing surfing to the world but also excelled in paddling (steersman) and volleyball.

  • With an impressive collection of championships, Outrigger is the winningest outrigger canoe club, triumphing in more Territorial, State, Association, and Molokai competitions than any other club.

  • Outrigger boasts a rich volleyball heritage. The sport was introduced to the club in 1915 by Club Captain George “Dad” Center. Today, beach volleyball is an Olympic sport that has gained popularity worldwide. Outrigger teams have secured an astounding 35 national indoor volleyball titles.

  • The OCC’s influence expands to the International Volleyball Hall of Fame, with three members elected from the 1968 U.S. Olympic Volleyball team. In 2021, a fourth member joined this illustrious group.

  • Outrigger swimmers have made their mark in the International Swimming Hall of Fame, with nine members attaining this prestigious recognition. Additionally, two Outrigger members have been elected into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

  • Outrigger surfers have dominated international competitions, securing numerous world championships. Notable surfing legends including Fred Hemmings Jr., Joey Cabell, Ricky Grigg, and Keone Downing have proudly represented the club. Carissa Moore, a five-time world champion, recently made history by winning the first-ever Gold medal in Olympic surfing.

  • Outrigger members have been instrumental in pioneering modern-day canoe surfing in challenging wave conditions.

  • Notably, OCC women were the first female surfers in modern times, winning the first-ever surfing trophy—the Frank Clark Cup—in 1910.

  • The Outrigger Canoe Club played a significant role in establishing the Outrigger Foundation, which later merged with the Duke Foundation to form the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation (ODKF). This foundation actively supports amateur athletes participating in the traditional sports of Old Hawaii, offering scholarships and grants to outstanding athletes and ocean sports programs.

  • Outrigger has owned five koa racing canoes, including the historic Hanakeoki, Kakina, Leilani, Paoa, and Kaoloa. The club also houses two additional koa canoes, the Ka Moi, displayed in the Ka Moi Lounge, and the Stephanie, currently undergoing renovation.

  • Outrigger members have been at the forefront of designing ocean sports equipment used worldwide. Their innovations include shaped surfboards with rails, stock paddleboards, fiberglass canoes, one-man outrigger canoes, paiko boards, modern ama, and racing canoes, among other breakthroughs.

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Discovering Outrigger Canoe Club’s Sporting Legacy

On this website, you’ll explore the fascinating history of various sports that the Outrigger Canoe Club has participated in over the past century. Discover the remarkable achievements of our athletes through competition results, articles from the Forecast and Outrigger magazines, and the OCC Archives, which include oral histories from more than 100 past and present members. Immerse yourself in the captivating visuals of our Photo Archives.

This website is a testament to the tireless efforts of the Outrigger Canoe Club Historical Committee, dedicated to preserving our club’s illustrious sporting legacy. Spearheaded by webmaster and historian Marilyn Kali, the committee welcomes your comments and contributions. Share your Outrigger memorabilia, including photos, to expand our ever-growing collection. Reach out to us at [email protected].

To explore the Outrigger Canoe Club’s official website for members, visit East Coast Paddle Sports.

To delve deeper into the Outrigger Canoe Club’s history, we recommend reading “Outrigger Canoe Club, The First Hundred Years, 1908-2008” by Barbara Del Piano. Copies of this book are available for purchase at the OCC Front Desk, located at 2909 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815, or by contacting (808) 923-1585.

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