By: John Grossi
It never ceases to amaze me the amount of new activities and opportunities one can discover in Long Beach. This winter I had the opportunity to attend a Saturday morning paddle with Kahakai Outrigger Canoe Club based out of Mother’s Beach where I discovered a fascinating traditional Polynesian sport and a thriving group of competitive paddlers.
If you’re looking for a great and affordable way to get in shape, join a competitive team, find a fun social group, or just take advantage of the beautiful Pacific Ocean that our city nestles up against, maybe it’s time to head out for a free trial paddling with Kahakai here in Long Beach.
The sport of racing outrigger canoes originated in the Polynesian Islands, where indeed the boats themselves originated. However, outrigger canoe racing has become a global sensation. Children and adults of all ages and competency levels are competing worldwide in this sport that matches a team of mortals against the magnificence of the water, testing a group’s full body strength and endurance, but more importantly their rhythm and harmony. The canoe only travels as fast as its team can paddle in unison :) “Hut Ho” as the rhythm call goes.
Kahakai Outrigger Canoe Club in Long Beach has been around since the 1980’s. It’s a competitive outrigger canoe club with multiple race divisions open to all levels and ages. Membership in the club grants year-round access to its fleet of 6-person canoes as well as opportunities to participate in other club programs. Kahakai is a member of Southern California Outrigger Racing Association (SCORA). SCORA’s competitive racing season runs May-September with weekend competitions up and down the Southern California coast (Santa Barbara to San Diego). Kahakai racing membership includes 3 coached team practices per week and all racing expenses from March-September.
Members can join anytime but are encouraged to “test the waters” in early spring to see if they are interested.
Family Fun and a Competitive Spirit
Long Beach resident Ashley Richardson had never paddled before when the club sort of “found her,” as she puts it. Ashley, a former collegiate athlete, was drawn toward finding something competitive that involved teamwork as an adult. She also quickly looked forward to the social aspect as well. “It’s like a huge family campout on the beach,” she says. “We get to the beach early, roll out the canoes as a team, set up camp, then each division does a race, and then we’ll stay there in the afternoon and just hang out. It’s very family-oriented and a great blend of competition and social interaction!”
Christopher Posthuma is a member who joined Kahakai after belonging to another local canoe club. Wanting to step up his game, improve physical conditioning, and meet like-minded people, he is on one of Kahakai’s more experienced and competitive teams. However, Christopher trumpeted the idea that this sport offers fun for participants at all levels. “If you like the water—this sport includes a lot of comradery, fresh air, and it’s a full body workout. You’re using your full core and legs. There aren’t many other sports where you get a full body workout like this and can have fun too!” says Christopher.
Why Join Now?
Spring is always the best time to join. When the time changes and daylight hours increase, Kahakai begins thrice-weekly practices for members. This spring 2022 is an especially good time to give paddling a try (the first 2 Saturdays are free), because Kahakai is highly focused on outreach this year. The club, which had a steady and thriving membership in the hundreds for decades, is now focused on rebuilding numbers to what they were before the Covid pandemic.
Any new or returning paddlers are welcome to show up to a Saturday session this month for free! Check out their website: https://kahakaioutrigger.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, or just show up at Mother’s Beach 8:45am, on any Saturday morning — next to the Scout Sea Base!
email@example.com | kahakaioutrigger.com