Canoe Racing

Ever went traveling around the Pacific in a canoe? That was what the ancient Hawaiians did to get to Hawaii. They sailed through the Pacific Ocean using celestial navigation to Hawaii.

Afterwards, the Hawaiians used their canoes for traveling, fishing, and canoe racing. The Hawaiians usually didn’t race for fun, and gambling on a race often involved big-ticket items including somebody’s land, all of his possessions, his wife, or even his life.

Canoe racing declined after the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778. Subsequent travelers brought Western diseases that decimated the Hawaiian population. The missionaries who arrived in 1820 discouraged canoe racing because of its gambling aspects and almost naked paddlers.

However, canoe races still happened during Kamehameha V’s reign from 1863 to 1872. King Kalakaua revived the sport in 1875, and canoe races took place in November 1875 to celebrate his birthday. Canoe racing continued to recover in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In 1908, the Outrigger Canoe Club and the Hui Nalu Canoe Club were established.

In 1987, the state legislature designated outrigger canoe paddling as Hawaii’s official team sport, and canoe paddling is popular in Hawaii today. It’s an official high school sport in OIA and ILH, and paddlers in canoes can be seen near shore at Hawaii beaches and on the Ala Wai Canal.

– Alice Kim

Search Strategy – Use these search terms for articles relating to canoe racing
canoe racing, regatta

Kamehameha V’s Birthday
“Monday’s Celebration”
Pacific commercial advertiser, Dec. 16, 1871, Image 2

King Kalakaua’s Birthday – November 16, 1875

“The Sixteenth of November”
Pacific commercial advertiser, Nov. 20, 1875, Image 3

King Kalakaua’s Birthday – November 16, 1878
“His Majesty’s Birthday”
Pacific commercial advertiser, Nov. 9, 1878, Image 3

King Kalakaua’s Birthday – November 16, 1882
“The Regatta”
Daily bulletin, Nov. 17, 1882, Image 2

“The Regatta”
Pacific commercial advertiser, Nov. 18, 1882, Page 2

“The King’s Birthday”
Saturday press, Nov. 18, 1882, Image 3

His Majesty’s Birthday: Its Observance
Hawaiian gazette, Nov. 22, 1882, Image 3

Regatta Day 1901

“Regatta Day”
Hawaiian gazette, Sept. 24, 1901, Image 1

Regatta Day 1909
“Regatta Day on the Shore”
Hawaiian star, Sept. 18, 1909, Image 1

Regatta Day 1910
“Results of the Fifteenth Regatta Day”
Hawaiian star, Sept. 17, 1910, Image 1


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