SLIDESHOW: View from the water- Alki outrigger race draws nearly 200 paddlers to Blake Island
Alki Beach went Hawaiian Saturday when over 200 outrigger canoe paddlers from age 7 to over 60 participated in three races, two beginning near the Alki bathhouse, rounding Blake island, and returning for 12 and a half miles, and a shorter one to Duwamish Head and back. They paddle six to a boat. The boats are fiberglass and traditionally weigh 400 pounds, the same as their traditional wooden Hawaiian counterparts. However, a new design in what is called the "Unlimited Class" weighs 275, quicker and easier for six people to lift and carry.
Boy Chun Fook, who is Hawaiian, is a member of Federal Way's Kikaha O Ke Kai Outrigger Canoe Club, which translates to "Glide over the sea". He is also president of Pacific NorthWest Outrigger Racing Association, or PNWORCA, 18 clubs, while the Seattle Outrigger Canoe Club is the sponsor and host of this event. It's called "DaGrind".
"We got a new course today," he enthused. "Last year we had two, six-mile loops. This is really nice, going around Blake Island. "It's all family over here, 'ohana. We have crews from Oregon, Bellingham, Tri-Cities, all coming together."
The club's coach, Gordon Martinez, of Federal Way, said, "I tell them 'Paddle hard' and "Reach out there!'"
Club president, John Richardson, said it was established in 1996, and now has over 100 members. "I started doing this at age 14 in Hawaii."
Sabine Jessel is President, Seattle Outrigger Canoe Club, located on Lake Union near Gasworks Park. "This is a fabulous sport," she said. "It is family-oriented and we all know each other. Our club was founded in 1996. I am from Germany but started paddling in Hawaii 25 years ago. I like to be in the water and on the water. It's a team sport and if you all paddle as one it is really an amazing feeling. We are fairly competitive on the water, but we give big hugs back on the beach."
"This is a sport that is very humbling," said Cris Trimble, a member of the Columbia River Outrigger Canoe Club, or CROCC . "There is not one club here on the entire beach that will feel better than, or superior to, everybody else," she said.
Near the information booth was Auntie Jean, a.k.a. "Ke Aloha", who was armed with a walkie-talkie to help coordinate with three pace motor boats. She was amicable and appeared to be "everybody's" aunt. She is part Hawaiian and lives on Bainbridge Island. An artist, she teaches hula dancing and said the trick is to slightly bend the knees as you rotate.
Uncle Ed DJ's for the Hawaiian Radio Connection, 91.3, KBCS-FM, and online, out of Bellevue College. He was on hand playing music from the Islands.
"I was born and raised in Oahu," he said. "When you have an event like this it brings everything back to this side of the rock, especially with this warm, sunny weather."
LATE CORRECTION: The first outrigger to cross the finish line belonged to Kikaha O Ke Kai and the time was 1:34:36 which was three and a half minutes ahead of second place.
The Seattle Outrigger Canoe Club plans to list all results on its website:
Also check out Federal Way's Kikaha O Ke Kai Outrigger Canoe Club website: http://www.kikaha.com/
The West Seattle Herald would like to thank brothers Christian and Will Bakken and the participating clubs who allowed us to ride along in Christian's motor boat while they helped supervise the race.
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