Hanohano New Member Guide


Outrigger Canoe History

        Over four centuries ago, it is believed some of the first oceanic settlers ventured across great expanses of the Pacific Ocean in canoe-like vessels.  Development of the “Hawaiian” canoe occurred after settlement of the islands we know as the Hawaiian Archipelago/ Canoes changed over the years to adapt to new conditions not found in the lands from which they migrated.  The construction of solid, one –piece hulls began to distinguish Hawaiian canoes from other Polynesian canoes.  Once refined, the Hawaiian canoe became the major craft throughout the islands.  Providing stability with its outrigger, it ensured a safe means for fishing in rough open ocean waters.  Constructing large canoes enabled the movement of many warriors during tribal conflicts and transportation of goods was much easier by avoiding a rugged land route.

        Early accounts of canoe racing are vague.  However, it is known that racing was very intense and stakes high.  It was not until 1936 that canoe racing actually began to organize.  The Hawaiian Canoe Paddling Association was formed in Waikiki on July 14, 1936.  In 1950, the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association (HCRA) was founded.  The HCRA was governed by a set of by-laws, racing specifications and rules that still govern much of competition today.

Outrigger Racing in California

        Lorrin (Whitey) Harrison, the founder of Dana Point Outrigger Canoe Club, also known as the grand old man of outrigger canoe racing on the mainland, introduced the sport to California in 1936.  Harrison, a surfer, diver, and commercial fisherman living in San Juan Capistrano, got his first taste of paddling  on a trip to Hawaii in 1932.  He built his first outrigger canoe four years later.

According to Harrison, two outrigger racers from Oahu, Noah Kalama and A.E. “Toots” Minwille, came from the islands to Southern California in 1959 to promote outrigger canoe racing on the mainland.  For years, the Molokai to Oahu Race in Hawaii was the only long distance canoe race anywhere in the world.  In 1959 a second long distance canoe race was founded in California; The Catalina to Newport Race was not only the first long distance canoe race outside of Hawaii, but also the first to pit a California crew against a Hawaiian crew.  Two canoes, the Malia and the Niuli, were taken to the mainland. The Miuli was loaned to the Californian paddlers.  A second crew of Californians paddles unofficially in a cottonwood canoe owned by Harrison.  The Malia, crewed by the Hawaiians, dominated primarily due to their experience and expertise, and commitment to the sport.

An interesting sidelight of the first Catalina to Newport Race in 1959 was the alleged pirating of a fiberglass plug of the Malia.  This shell reportedly taken without authorization while the Malia awaited shipment back to Hawaii was later made into a mold.  From this mold and from the hulls that came from it, other molds were made.  The majority of the fiberglass canoes used in Hawaii and California until approximately 1980 were made from these molds.  Thus the Malia inadvertently sired a noble fleet of fiberglass and resin canoes.

Under the watchful eye of Noah Kalama, who helped form the Kalifornia Outrigger Association (KOA) and later his son Ilima, outrigger canoeing interest in California grew steadily.  The acronym KOA comes from the traditional Hawaiian hardwood, koa, which is used in the construction of canoes.  KOA started first with a few clubs competing amongst themselves and beginning in 1959 by sending occasional entries to the Molokai to Oahu Race.  Their performances in local races, including the re-instituted Catalina Race, together with being the overall winner in Molokai to Oahu race I 1978 were mute testimony of just how far California paddling had come.

In 2002 KOA was disbanded and The Southern California Outrigger Association (SCORA) was formed.  SCORA is the controlling organization of outrigger paddling in Southern California.  Clubs adhere to guidelines put forth by the association, Clubs from as far north as San Francisco, and as east as Arizona competes, however the majority of the clubs are located in coastal cities between Santa Barbara and San Diego.  Advances in design to increase speed and competitiveness, have seen the emergence of a variety of canoe types.  The Bradley, a long boat, replaced the popular Malia, creating two canoe categories for races.  Later the Malia was phased out as a racing category, due to the emergence of the Open Specification (commonly referred to as “Spec”) division. There were still two canoe divisions, Bradley, and Spec and until 2011 when the “Unlimited” canoe was introduced and required a new division. Unlimited boats have no design or weight restrictions where as Bradley and Spec boats do.

In addition to the six man canoes, one and two man outrigger canoes are very popular for training and racing.  SCORA members compete against clubs from Hawaii, Australia, Tahiti, Canada, and others throughout the world, presently; there are over 200 clubs with well over 3000 competitors in the world.  Outrigger canoe paddling is the fastest growing team sport in the Pacific Rim and continues to spread as more people find out how fun it is to paddle outrigger canoes.

Hanohano Outrigger Canoe Club

        Hanohano Outrigger Canoe Club was founded in January of 1981 by Egon and Rena Horcajo and is located in Mission Bay, San Diego, California.  The members are made up of a diverse group of people ranging in age from 12-70 plus years old and come from varied backgrounds such as lifeguards, programmers, construction workers, scientists, pilots, teachers, business owners and many more.  They have varying athletic backgrounds, some are highly competitive, and others join for exercise and the chance to meet new friends.  The club was formed in order to unite men and women who share an interest in perpetuating a participating in Hawaiian outrigger canoe racing at its highest competitive level.  The club encourages and promotes good will and sportsmanship among members.  Joining provides an opportunity for members to participate in a healthy and coordinated program of physical fitness.

        Hanohano has proven itself to be one of the more dynamic and winning clubs in Southern California.  Competition and racing are of utmost importance to Hanohano, but doing ones best is the most important.  This attitude is exemplified by all the hard work members do for the betterment of the club.  In addition to racing, Hanohano has social events/fundraisers which include a luau, a corporate regatta and holiday events to share aloha with members and the community.  Hanohano is a Hawaiian word, which translates as, “glorious, dignified, worthy of praises”.  In the years since its inception, members strive diligently to portray these qualities.  We are looking forward to paddling with you and sharing some of the “Hanohano spirit”.


Po’okela  #89                    Bradley        Superior

        Kilohana  #99             Bradley        The Best

        Lei Halia  #119           Bradley        Garland of fond memories, especially of a loved one

        Puamana  #129           Bradley        Seabreeze

        Malolo  #139              Mirage                Flying Fish        

        Na Makua  #159         Mirage                Founders of Hanohano

Mikimiki  #169           Mirage                Energy, Quick

Mana o’i’o #179         Mirage                Power and sprit of departed chiefs

        Teiva        #189                    Independent Tahitian Design        Tahitian Friend

        Pana O Ke Kai #199        UL Pure Canoe May 2013         Pulse of the sea

        Hokualohi #299           UL Puakea Designs Sept 2014        Shining Star  


On Landing and Launching



On the water








Sometimes it is hard to tell what the weather conditions will be at the bay in the evenings.  It is best to have a few things in your car just in case there is a cold wind, if the fog rolls in.  Always assume that you WILL get very wet at every practice instead of the other way around.

In order of importance:

  1. ALWAYS KEEP A TOWEL AND HEAVY SWEATSHIRT IN YOUR CAR.  If the boat you are in should flip, you will need dry warm clothes
  2. Capaliene/polypropylene shirts.  Any shirt made out of these materials are great for water sports, as thy do not get soggy when wet, the water is whisked away from your skin, which will keep you warm.
  3. Neoprene booties – These are not only good for warmth, but will provide protection to your feet from the elements and rough boat bottoms.
  4. A lightweight wind breaker – It does not need to be water resistant (you want it to breathe) but it is good to have some protection from cold wind.  Don’t get anything with large tapered sleeves, you do not want a lot of material getting in the way of your paddling, and it is difficult for coaches to see your technique.
  5. Water/sport drink to re-hydrate.
  6. Many paddlers bring a gallon of hot water with them to leave in their cars.  After practice you can rinse with warm water.
  7. Leave a plastic bucket in your car to put wet clothes and booties for the drive home.
  8. Warm slip on booties to keep feet warm.


Seat Number                Description/Responsibilities

1 – Stroker                1.  Have good timing and ability to maintain pace

                        2.  Make pace changes in smooth according to conditions/crew.

                3.  Provides a good example for rest of crew in terms of stroke,


                        4.  Call all “HIKES” and changes

  1. 1.  Back up and work with stroker to maintain pace.

2.  Keeps timing exactly with stroker.

                        3.  Call “HUTS” loudly to back up stroker.

                        4.  Watches ama in rough water and makes appropriate changes to keep

                     the ama down.

3 – Power seat                1.  Powerhouse paddler to keep glide.

                2.  Watches ama as above secondary.

                3.  Call all “PULLS”

                4.  Bails during races if necessary.

4 – Power seat                1.  Powerhouse paddler to keep glide.

                        2.  Watches ama as above secondary.

                        3.  Call all “PULLS”

                        4.  Bails during races if necessary.

5 – Keeper of                1.  Powerhouse paddler to keep glide.

        the ama                2.  Watches ama as above secondary.

  1. Call all “PULLS”
  2. Bails during races if necessary.
  3. Assist steersman if necessary.

6- Steersman                1.  Primary function:  Navigate, keep crew on straight steady course.

                        2.  Coach, encourage, push, instruct and motivate.

                        3.  Watch and read the water.

                        4.  Paddle

Factors in Seat/Crew Placement

Time trials (strength/power)


Stroke (proper technique)

Attendance at workouts


Contribution to the club/luau/race

Attendance at team meetings


Payment of dues/race fees.


Iron                Long distance races usually in open ocean where a crew goes iron (stays together

                for the entire race).  Race distances are usually from 5 to 15 miles.

Regatta        Sprints that are of varied distances depending on the race.  The sprints consist of ¼

                mile races with turns.  (Around flags)  The race is virtually won on the strength

                and precision of the turns.

Nine Man        15 miles and up races with crews of nine men/women.  Throughout the race, the paddlers

                Relieve each other with “water changes” from an escort boat.  (Major 9-man races

                Are Catalina -32 miles and Molokai – 42 miles)

OC1/OC2        One man/Two man outrigger races of varying distances.


        Canoe                        Paddlers

        Flipped                Position


                                1                        After the canoe has flipped, REMAIN CALM and

                                                assume responsibilities.


                                                        Each paddler should be in relative position as

                                3                        shown in Figure 1,  “Huli the Canoe”.


                                4                        VERY IMPORTANT – Account for ALL the

                                                        people in the canoe!!


                                                        A huli over happens rapidly, assume your position

                                6                        without being asked and be ready for the

                                                        Steersman’s call.

Fig. 1 “Huli the Canoe”

                Direction of righting                        Righting the canoe

                                                        #1 swims to front iako


                                                        #2 Swim under canoe to assume position on

                                                                  Other side of iako        


                                                        #3  Swim to rear iako                

2                        1

                                                        #4 Same as #2, but opposite #3

4                          3                                   #5 Gather all paddles together and float on

                                                             them.  Stay clear when the canoe is righted.

                                                        #6 Account for ALL people and ensure they are

                6                5                             safe.  Keep everybody calm, make sure they

                                                                    All get to the proper position.  Once this has        

                                                             Happened, call out “one, two, THREE”

On THREE: #2 and #4 will step on the end of the Iakos, reaching over hull of canoe to the same iako, and pulling up.  #1 and #3 will push iako and ama up with arm.

Once the canoe has been righted, the lightest two people get in the canoe and start bailing as fast as possible.  After enough water is out of the canoe, the other paddlers can get back in the canoe and start paddling.  Have at least one paddler bails until most, if not all of the water, has been removed from the canoe.  Remember:  SAFETY FIRST


ALERT                        Term used for “pay attention” Usually in reference to “paddles up” for

                        Racing conditions but can be used for just about everything.

AMA                                Outrigger float or pontoon.

BAIL                                Removing excess water from the boat using a bail bucket.

BLADE                        the flat portion of the paddle that creates resistance when pulled through

                                the water.

GUNNELS                        Rim of the canoe.  Command to place paddles on rim.

HUKI                                “Pull”; paddle moved towards the canoe at an angle

IAKO                                The two wood supports which attach the ama to the canoe.

KEIKI                        Youth paddler

PADDLES UP                Stop paddling; place your paddles on the gunnels.

PLACEMENT                Refers to putting your blade into the water with appropriate control and

                                No splashing; picking a spot to place your blade in the water.

POWER SETS                Called by the steersman, it refers to giving 100% power with each stroke        

                                without changing the pace.

PULL FORWARD                Paddle forward easily.

RACING START                A start used for all races in which the first three sets are done as follows;

                                full blades, long strokes, 100% power.  Purpose:  to pick the canoe up

                                and get it gliding.

RIG                                To lash iakos/ama to the canoe.

ROTATION        Specifically referring to trunk and waist, rotation or twisting is needed at the initiation of a stroke.  De-rotation or untwisting occurs at the end.

SADDLE        U-shaped supports used to support the hull of the canoe when it is beached.

SCORA        Southern California Outrigger Association; governing body of Southern

        California clubs.


SET        The ready position refers also to a set of power strokes.

SHAFT        The mid-portion of the paddle between the paddle/blade and the t-top.  

SPM                                Strokes per minute.

STOW YOUR BLADES        Put your blades under the seat, out of the way.

STRETCH IT OUT                Usually after a race/workout, no power paddling to cool down.

STROKER                        The paddler sitting in the #1 seat.  Responsible for the pace and

                                calling changes.                                

TIMING                        Refers to the pace, frequency, and rhythm of stroking; must enter and exit

                                the water together to be “in time”.  Synchronization of a team’s body


TIME TRIAL                A test of strength/endurance in which you paddle alone for time.

T-TOP                        Handle of the paddle.

UNI                                “kick”; paddle moves away from canoe.

WATER CHANGES                Manner in which paddlers relieve each other during ultra distance races.


Do you have questions?  Do not be afraid to ask them, we want to hear them and help you grow in the sport.  Remember that you have joined a team sport.  Remember that you have joined a team sport and as a member of a team we learn, play, train and compete with each other.  We welcome you to our ohana and look forward to sharing our “hanohano” spirit with you!