Kahakai traces its roots back to the start of outrigger canoe racing on the mainland. The founder of Kahakai’s father, Dave Ane, was part of the California crew that raced the Hawaiians from Avalon to Newport Dunes in 1959. The first Long Beach Club (Kai Loa) was founded in the 60′s by Hawaiian students who attended Cal State University of Long Beach. Kai Loa vanished when paddlers from that era became attached to other outrigger clubs from Newport Beach and Dana Point. However in 1988 a different group emerged, dominated by local second-generation mainland Hawaiians.
Originating in Seal Beach, the group looked about for a racing canoe and arranged to borrow one from the Offshore club in Newport. Local paddling was back in business in 1989. A club was formed around the founding members, who drew in friends and supporters. The rough translation of Seal Beach to Hawaiian provided the club name – “Ilio i ka uaua kahakai”, which is a bit of a mouthful, so the simplified club name Kahakai (beach) came into common use.
The Seal Beach venue was not conducive to a paddling club operation and club leaders sought a new location. Long Beach Marine Department then-Alamitos Bay head Dick Miller, an ex-paddler from earlier days, suggested an unused corner of Mother’s Beach in Long Beach. Site inspection followed, permits prepared, and with a set of by-laws adopted from the Long Beach Rugby Club, the Kahakai Outrigger Club became a fixture in Long Beach water sports in 1990.
Since 1989, the club has grown in size measured by number of members and number of canoes, now owning 9 racing canoes and two 4-man practice canoes and a number of one-man sprint trainers. Early on a keiki (kids) program was added to the adult program.
Besides racing, the club participates in Long Beach water festivals and civil events, such as Seafest, Ronald McDonald Walk for Kids, Wounded Warrior, Team Spirit Walk for Breast and Ovarian Cancer, the Christmas Boat Parade, and the bi-annual TransPac Yacht Race, wherein the club canoes escort the racing yachts out of Rainbow Harbor located Long Beach Shoreline, to the start of their race from Pt Fermin to Honolulu . The club also participates in Polynesian cultural events, such as the 1995 visit to Long Beach of Hokule’a, the Hawaiian voyaging canoe that has for 30 years become a valued piece of experimental archaeology and cultural connection.
Kahakai Outrigger Canoe Club is one of over 28 clubs in Southern California and Arizona, which are part of Southern California Outrigger Racing Association (SCORA). SCORA is the governing body for the sport of outrigger canoe racing. Most of its teams reside on Southern California beaches between San Diego and San Luis Obispo with several outlying teams in Arizona. Kahakai Outrigger takes part in competitive ocean racing and training programs to foster the healthy, active lifestyle of its members.
Since Kahakai was founded California in 1989, its male and female paddlers have competed in the world class Molokai Channel Crossing, a 41-mile race from the island of Molokai to Waikiki Beach on Oahu and in the world’s largest outrigger canoe race in Kona, Hawaii, the 18 mile Queen Liliuokalani Race. Women’s teams will compete in 26 mile Dad’s Center Race on Oahu in the summer of 2013.
Kahakai encourages and assists all members to participate in local, national and international events. Coaches and veteran athletes provide training to assist paddlers in developing the requisite paddling skills which include a refined and efficient stroke, increased strength, superior cardiovascular performance, steering skills and water change techniques. Kahakai also participates in quarterly outside training clinics for the purposes of improving the competitive edge.
Southern California families are brought together by the sport as well. It is truly an all-encompassing sport offering the ocean/surfing lifestyle with a team environment that is family focused. Kahakai provides an organized outrigger race for paddlers of all ages in Long Beach’s historic Marine Stadium. The Keiki (children) races allow children from ages 10 to 19 to compete in short races. The Open divisions are comprised of individuals from ages 20 to 39, and the Masters, Senior Masters and Golden Masters divisions provide competitive fields for ages 40 to 65 or older. It is not uncommon to see a family of paddlers, with moms and dads paddling in the open and masters divisions and the kids participating in the keiki races. It’s a great way to spend time with your family and also enjoy the thrill of racing an outrigger canoe on the open ocean.