Kai Wa’a

I have been all kinds of shocked since realizing it’s been OVER a week and I haven’t finished recapping my fabulously busy weekend… You can read all about Saturday’s March For Babies experience, and how special that day was for me here, and now I am excited to share with you my Sunday, and the traditional Hawaiian blessing of two new wa’a (canoe/outrigger)..

If you don’t already know, I have a passion for paddling! You run? I paddle! Well.. I run, too, but there is never a time I dislike paddling, whereas running.. we’ve always had a love/hate relationship!

I am a Waterwoman!


I love my Hawaiian Pacific Ocean.. the power, the movement, the depth, the colors, the saltiness, smell, and temperature. I love it all!

Watch this:


And this:


And this!


At all times the ocean needs to be somewhere in my view. It needs to be accessible, so I can float in it, swim in it, surf, stand up paddle, paddle OC6 & OC1, sail etc. I am my happiest near, in, or on the ocean. It had me at hello. And it completes me.

Wa’a.. What is that? Wa’a is Hawaiian for Outrigger Canoe…and sailing canoes is an important part of the Polynesian heritage.

The outrigger frame work is the essential design modification that sets outrigger canoes apart from all others. It has evolved over thousands of years of experimentation as the most efficient way to stabilize a dug out canoe. Traditionally, the outrigger frame has always been fitted on the left side of the canoe.

The Hawaiian outrigger canoe is but one of hundreds of outrigger types across the region of Oceania, encompassing Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. The stabilizing framework attached to the canoe hull across canoe spreader bars by means of traditional lashing techniques using cordage, consists of two iako or spars, at the outer end of which the ama (or float) is attached.

Many traditional skills are associated with the practicing of both the rigging and paddling of outrigger canoes. In relation to rigging, skill and knowledge of lashing techniques and the trim of the ama and iako in relation to the canoe are skills that can take many years of experience. It is this adherence to tradition that makes outrigger canoe racing and paddling unique in a world where many traditions and cultural recognitions have been lost.

As a result of this the sport attracts people seeking not only an outdoor ocean orientated sport, but one which offers deeper cultural and spiritual significance.

As we kick off our Paddling Season, Napili Canoe Club came together as one doing just that; weighing, rigging, and blessing our canoes–as well as welcoming two new keiki: Iwikuamo’o and Lauaki

Iwikuamo’o: spine, backbone of the high chief
Lauaki: to cooperate, work together as experts

A very special, traditional Blessing captured all from an iPhone 4

History of Outrigger Canoe Racing

Outrigger canoe racing evolved as a natural extension of the peoples of Oceania’s use of these amazing craft for their everyday survival in fishing the oceans and in traveling between island groups, culminating in epic journeys of up to and over 3000 miles, journeying in double hulled voyaging canoes.

Canoe racing became an important part of island life, as much pride and prestige was placed on victory. Gambling on victory was commonplace. During the European occupation of many of the islands, but especially Hawaii in 1820, canoe racing was effectively banned and paddles replace with bibles. Later in 1876 King David Kalakaua reinstated the sport. By 1908 the first outrigger canoe clubs were foundedOutrigger Canoe Club of Hawaii and Hui Nalu.

Hawai’i became the birthplace of contemporary outrigger canoe racing; with a governing body being established in 1950, the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association. The sport has since spread far and wide to Tahiti, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, New Caledonia, USA, Canada, France, England, South Africa, Guam, Hong Kong, Australia, and Fiji and is expanding all the time. There are an estimated 25,000 outrigger canoe paddlers worldwide, and the sport is currently experiencing huge growth.


PS: I’ll be paddling extra long, and extra hard today due to the overconsumption of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs.. These things are hatching all over our house! Hoping you had a fabulous Easter by the way–please share with me what you were up to here as I’ve been ever so curious! 

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2 thoughts on “Kai Wa’a

  1. Great post!
    I paddled with the Keauhou Club on the Big Island in high school. Even when I moved to Hong Kong, I started dragon boating. It's pretty similar to outrigger but you only paddle on one side. Check it out online, it's pretty neat!!

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