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The original outrigger canoes were most likely developed purely for utilitarian purposes such as fishing and travel. No one knows exactly when the idea of racing came about but it’s a sure bet racing occurred. Prince Kuhio commissioned the first racing canoe which won many races in the early 1900’s. In 1933 the first Malia was hewn and shaped by James Takeo-Yamasaki from Blonde Koa wood in Kailua-Kona. It was named “Malia” for the calm waters there. Of all Hawaiian racing canoes, the Malia is perhaps the best known and played a very significant role in the development of outrigger canoe paddling. The Malia won many races in the 1930’s 40’s and 50’s. In 1959 the Malia won the first Catalina Island race in California. Shortly after, its hull was borrowed and a fiberglass mold made. By 1960, 78 fiberglass Malias competed in a new division in the Molokai Hoe. Fiberglass designs really enabled outrigger paddling for everyone.

But as good as the Malia was, it could not compete with more modern designs. In 1976 the Tahitians brought a longer, sleeker design to the Molokai Hoe and won it by a large margin. This canoe was so fast it was dubbed the Rocket. Since then, many variations and design changes have been made with Force 5, Bradley and Mirage designs competing. The later designs are much better at holding track while surfing swells.

The Mirage and Bradley Lightning are currently the most popular racing canoes. They surf and turn with ease. Both have an outstanding victory record in nearly all of the major outrigger races in recent years.

Hawaii is not the only place where outrigger canoes are paddled and raced.  From Tahiti to New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Europe, South America, Canada and the mainland US, outrigger paddling is available. 

Canoe designs have evolved.  Canoes raced in Hawaiian regattas and many long distance races must meet the specifications of the HCRA (Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association).  These specs control the shape of the hull as well as requiring the canoes to weigh at least 400 pounds without ama/iakos.  But elsewhere canoes can have different shapes and weights.  As a result, a  new "unlimited" category of canoes has been created for racing.  Canoes in this category have no weight restrictions.  Many weigh between 160 to 280 pounds.

After studying the canoes in the unlimited category, we purchased 2 Matahina canoes. These canoes are built by ARE in Tahiti and weigh about 280 pounds.  They are used by majority of the top paddling teams in Tahiti and now by several clubs in Hawaii, Australia and the US mainland.

Wa`a Part Names

The table below lists Kihei Canoe Club's canoes. Note: Starting in 2012, canoe names are being standardized to upper case letters and the "Hobo" font. As they are refurbished, they will have the new naming applied.

2019 HCRA Weight Info

Type Canoe Name, Meaning and History
Koa KU KOA MANUTEA, "White bird, goes swiftly to its point of destination" hewn from a Koa tree near Kaupo, Maui; carved by Leon "Fafa" Toofa and KCC members; blessed 2001. Click here to see a video of Ku Koa Manutea being cut and brought down Haleakala.

Special Care is needed when handling Ku Koa Manutea
  • Always lift from the bottom - NEVER by the seats
  • Carry completely into the water - NEVER drag on sand
  • Do not sit on mo`o (gunwales)
  • Remove watches and jewelry before entry
  • Support your weight with your hands on the mo`o
  • Do not stand on the bottom of the wa`a
In 2013, Ku Koa Manutea underwent the waterlining process mandated by HCRA. As a result, significant work to split the hull and add material to increase width in some areas was accomplished. The work was completed in time for the 2013 State Championships. Refinished 2015.
Malia KEALOHAPUMEHANA, "the greatest possible aloha" 1968, acquired 2004, refurbished 2014, 2019
Malia MIKI ALA, "Alert" born 1968, acquired 1979 (rebuilt 2001; Repaired and Refurbished 2015 due to storm damage)
Malia PAKALANA, named for Dutchy's favorite flower, acquired:1965, Given to Na Kai Ewalu CC after a fire and reacquired by Kihei CC in 2003 (Repaired and refurbished 2015 due to storm damage)
Malia PULELEHUA, "Butterfly" , born 1971, acquired 2001; refurbished 2012 (born: 1972) In memory of the Vietnam veterans of Maui. From Hana CC (Damaged in 2015 storm - repaired and in service)
Malia HOOMAKAMAKA, "to befriend" , 2013 "light weight" Malia hull built by Jay Dawcett Marine
Malia MALAMAPONO, "doing the right thing" , 2013 "light weight" Malia hull built by Jay Dawcett Marine
Malia KAME`EIAMOKU, "one of the Royal Twins" , 2015 "light weight" Malia hull built by Jay Dawcett Marine
Malia KAMANAWA, "one of the Royal Twins" , 2015 "light weight" Malia hull built by Jay Dawcett Marine
Force 5 O KALINI NANI, "O Beautiful Karen" 1996, refurbished 2014
Bradley Racer LELE I KA LEWA, "To fly or leap to the sky or upper heavens", 1999 refurbished 2014
Bradley Racer LELE I KE KAI, "To fly or to leap across the sea" , 1999 refurbished 2015
Bradley Striker LELE MANU KAIKO`O `ELUA, "The flying bird that stands or supports you", 2002, refurbished 2015
Bradley Striker HOKU HO`OKELE WA`A, "a canoe's guiding star", 2003 (Refurbished 2014)
Mirage HOKULOA, "the Long Star, Venus", 2004; refurbished 2014, refurbished again 2015
Mirage HOKUPA`A, "Immovable Star", 2007 a gift and legacy from Joan Cannon Refurbished 2015
Mirage M2 HANAIAKAMALAMA, "Southern Cross Constellation", 2015
Mirage M2 WAIAKOA, "Water of the Warriors" the ahupuaa of Kihei Canoe Club, 2015
Bradley Lightning KAEHUKAIOPUA, "The red sea of Pua", 2009
Bradley Lightning HOKUALI`I, "Chiefly Star", 2013
Bradley Lightning NA KUPUNA O KE KAI, "Wisdom of the Sea", 2016. Kupuna in the club donated the funds to purchase this canoe.
IHE Vantage 6 KA MAKANI O KIHEI, "The Wind Of Kihei" acquired: May 2018 first Vantage 6 to pass HCRA waterline test
IHE Vantage 6 MANU KAI, "Sea Bird"acquired: October 2018
ARE Matahina KAMAILEHOPE, "Alpha Centauri"acquired: July 2018
ARE Matahina KAMAILEMUA, "Beta Centauri"acquired: July 2018

Canoes gone but not forgotten
Rocket HELU `EKAHI, "Number One", originally this name was used on a1964 Malia which was traded in 1986, repaired and refurbished 2016 due to storm damage, sold Hui Waa O Kaulua 2017 to support their Junior Voyaging Program.
Rocket HOE MANA, "Spirit of the Paddlers", 1991, refurbished 2016, sold Hui Waa O Kaulua 2017 to support their Junior Voyaging Program
Rocket KA OHELO, "Sister of Pele", refurbished 2012, repaired and refurbished 2016 due to storm damage, sold Hui Waa O Kaulua 2017 to support their Junior Voyaging Program
Mirage Lele Wale Aku La, "Flying, towards the sun or towards the future", acquired 2003 (Severely damaged in 2010 storm)
Rocket Hōkū Welo Welo, "Shooting Star", 1985, seats refurbished 2003 (lost in 2015 storm and never found)
Mirage LELEMAMA, "Flying swiftly", 2011; refurbished 2014 (Severely damaged in storm 2015. Sold to Kimokeo)
Bradley Encore HOKUAO, "Morning Star", 2003, refurbished 2014 (Repaired and refurbished 2015 due to storm damage) Sold
Malia KA MAKANI O KIHEI, "The Wind Of Kihei" acquired: 1980 (born: 1970; rebuilt 2001; refurbished 2013; donated to Hanalei Canoe Club after flooding wiped out most of their fleet in April 2018)
Malia MANU KAI, "Sea Bird"1970, refit 2002, refurbished 2013; donated to Namolokama O'Hanalei Canoe Club after flooding wiped out most of their fleet in April 2018

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Kihei Canoe Club • P.O. Box 1131 Kihei, HI 96753 • 808-879-5505