There are currently 10 boats in our fleet, 9 of which are raced in the three separate Southern California Outrigger Racing Association (SCORA) divisions of Unlimited, Bradley and Spec. By Bob Bright
he Whitey is an unlimited boat built by Odie Sumi of Pure Canoes in Kona. It was named for our club founder and legendary waterman Lorrin “Whitey” Harrison. An unstoppable force, Whitey lived life to the max. Back in the 1920’s, while in high school, Whitey was already among the few surfing San Onofre. Once caught skipping school, he was told to bring a note explaining his absence. The note read, ”The Big Ones Are Humping.” He was expelled for two weeks after explaining what it meant. In the 1930’s Whitey hopped a freighter to Honolulu. It was here that he took up canoe surfing with the legendary Waikiki Beach Boys and paddled with members of the Hui Nalu or “Club of the Waves” founded by Duke Kahanamoku. He also bodysurfed with Noah Kalama; a connection that would lead to the introduction of outrigger canoe racing in California some twenty years later. In 1933, the first regatta devoted strictly to canoe racing was held on the Big Island. Looking to increase the sports popularity, Albert “Toots” Minvielle, an avid paddler and former UH swimming coach, began promoting the idea of an interisland race. Given the treacherous nature of the inter-island channels, most people thought he was crazy. But, persistence paid off and, in 1952, the first Molokai to Oahu race was held. While the winning purse was $900, the course was so dangerous that Molokai residents even offered their team $600 to
NOT race. Only three teams entered, but the race was a huge success and helped propel Hawaiian outrigger canoe racing to an all time high. The next step was to introduce the sport to the mainland. So, in 1959, Toots hand-picked Noah Kalama to generate interest in an exhibition race from Catalina to Newport. Kalama was to recruit a team of Californians to race against a Hawaiian team. Kalama called upon Whitey to help put the California team together. With only two months to train, Whitey and his crew paddled everyday until 9 pm, regardless of conditions, preparing for the big event. The race was held on September 20, 1959. The Hawaiians brought over two koa canoes: the Malia and the Niuhe. Built in 1933, the Malia also happened to be the most decorated boat in the islands. Whitey’s crew paddled the Niuhe. Half way across, the Californians were holding their own against the more experienced Hawaiians and their celebrated canoe. That is, until they huli’d after being hit by an escort boat’s wake. Despite this setback and their overall lack of experience, after five hours of paddling, the Californians were beaten by the Hawaiians by only 11 minutes. Whitey claims he paddled the whole way without a sip of water, while wielding a paddle that weighed at least 10 pounds.
Whiteyâ€™s son Kelly followed Alenuihaha during the Olamau race on his red sailing kayak.
he Alenuihaha is another unlimited built by Pure Canoes. It was specially ordered for the club for the 2013 Olamau Race. The Olamau is a grueling 3-day, 101 mile race that takes place on the Big Island. It began in 2012 with seven participants. 14 teams competed in 2013. A Dana Outrigger Team, sponsored by Riviera Paddlesurf, competed in the 2013 event and placed 7th overall. The next Olamau will be held in 2016. Rest assured, Dana Outrigger will be there again. The Alenuihaha takes its name from the channel that runs between the Big Island and Maui. Bordered on one side by Haleakala and on the other by Mauna
Kea, the channel acts like a funnel, squeezing the northeast trade winds and currents into roiling, treacherous, wind-whipped seas. The name translates into something like “great billows smashing” and refers to the fact that waves can come at you from all directions as they bounce off of the surrounding islands. The name also has a lengthy club connection. It was the name given to the club’s first canoe which it obtained for the 1971 Catalina to Newport Race. Whitey later bought property on the Big Island which overlooked the Alenuihaha Channel. It was here that he passed away from a heart attack after a morning swim in 1993.
he Akahi is also an unlimited built by Pure Canoes. The name means”Gentle Giant” and it is a memorial to Lauren “Skip” Leonard who paddled with Dana Outrigger for more than 20 years. A former college ball player with an infectious laugh, Skip’s size and strength belied his gentle nature. Skip passed away in 2012. Since being acquired in 2012, the Akahi quickly became Dana Outrigger’s strongest performing canoe.
In its first year alone, it placed in the top 3 of all races entered with four - 1st place wins, six - 2nd place wins and four - 3rd place wins. It took 2nd place in the 2012 Catalina Challenge, men’s division, nosing out the Hawaiians from Na Koa Kona by 12 seconds. In 2013, the boat was loaned to the men of Na Koa Kona. They grabbed 1st place with the Akahi; beating out their closest competitor by almost five minutes, and flying the ama across the finish.
he Hokulele is an early generation Bradley canoe known as a “Racer.” It was built by Sonny Bradley of Oahu and purchased by the club around 1992. The name, which means “Shooting Star,” had been used on an earlier Malia class boat that had been hand built by Whitey. The background of the Bradley Design: Following the 1959 Catalina Race, the two Hawaiian
koa canoes were held in a shipyard awaiting transport back to Hawaii. The night before they were to be shipped out, a group of Californians “borrowed” the Malia and made a copy, or plug, of its hull to be used for a fiberglass mold. The canoes that were molded from this plug would become known as the Malia class and they dominated the sport in the 1960’s and into the 1970’s. And then…the Tahitians arrived.
In 1976, the first Tahitian crews took part in the Molokai Hoe. They finished second, fourth and eighth in canoes, dubbed the “Rockets,” that were longer, sleeker and faster than their Hawaiian counterparts. The Hawaiians responded to the Tahitian invasion by imposing a 400 pound minimum weight and other measurement restrictions on all HCRA competitions. Inspired by the Tahitians’
performance, Sonny Bradley became an apprentice to Tahiti’s master builder Pua’aniho Taotaha. Melding Hawaiian and Tahitian traditions, Sonny began building canoes that continue to dominate the sport. The “Racer” was his first design to be manufactured on a commercial scale. Today, the Bradley Racer is simply referred to as a “Bradley” and is the only make/model to race in SCORA’s Bradley Division.
he Lehua is also a Bradley “Racer” that was acquired by the club around 1995. The name Lehua means “sacred to the gods.” Whitey had previously given this name to one of his other hand built Malia class canoes in honor of his granddaughter.
he Ka Ho’okele, acquired by the club in 2009, is a second generation build from Sonny Bradley known as the “Lightning.” The name, which means “The Navigator,” is a tribute to the legendary Dana Outrigger steersman, Bob Morris. Bob was, perhaps, the most decorated steersman in all of Southern California and was also the only steersman to have placed in all divisions of the grueling 38+ mile Molokai Hoe race that runs from Molokai to Oahu across the raging Ka’iwi Channel. Bob passed away in 2009.
The Lightning can be distinguished from the earlier Bradley by the trim line, or gap, that runs across the hull just behind the steersman. This gap is where a spray skirt can be attached when paddling in rough seas. While they are Bradley boats, the Lightnings race in the “Spec” Division per SCORA rules. Lightnings have also become the canoe of choice for the Molokai crossing. In fact, the Tahitian team, Shell Va’a, has won the Molokai Hoe every year since 2006, racing a Bradley Lightning.
he Paniolo is a Mirage built by Karel Tresnak of Outrigger Connection in Hawaii, and purchased by the club in 2009. The name means “Cowboy” in Hawaiian. Previously, the name had been used by the club on a Tahitian design that was built by Whitey, but was banned by SCORA.
He began developing OC1 designs as a supplement to OC6 training. He then began experimenting with OC6 designs and developed the Mirage prototype in the late 1990’s. Two of these prototypes were entered in the 2000 Molokai Hoe where they finished 1st and 2nd and set a new course record.
The background of the Mirage Design: Karel Tresnak had been a member of the Czechoslovakia Kayaking Olympic Team where he participated in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. He immigrated to the US in the 1980’s and was first introduced to outrigger paddling in the 1990s. He joined Lanikai Canoe Club and became their men’s upper division coach.
The Mirages race in SCORA’s Spec Division, along with the Bradley Lightnings. While the Mirages also have a spray skirt gap in the hull behind the steersman, they can be distinguished from the Lightning by a distinctive notch cut in the tail upright.
Kumu Aloha T
he Kumu Aloha is another “Mirage” built by Outrigger Connection. Its name means “Beloved Teacher” and it is a memorial to Jim Jordan. Jim paddled with Dana Outrigger between 1995 and 2004 and served as club treasurer and coach of the junior program.
he Kikilia is another Bradley Lightning. Its name is the Hawaiian spelling of Cecelia. It is named in memory of Cecelia Harrison, Whiteyâ€™s wife and a club co-founder.
he Ta’aone is a cherished Dana Outrigger heirloom, as it is the last original canoe made by Whitey Harrison. The name refers to a beach in Tahiti where Whitey spotted a canoe with classic Tahitian lines. He took down its measurements and used them to build this canoe back in the 1980’s. Don’t let its old age and rippled gunnels fool you. This old girl can still run with the best of them. The Ta’aone does not race in SCORA competitions.
Design by Greg Fassett
There are currently 10 boats in our fleet, 9 of which are raced in the three separate SCORA divisions of Unlimited, Bradley and Spec. Here i...