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Aloha in New York

July 07, 2013

Aloha and New York City aren't normally used together in the same sentence. But that is exactly what the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge is. Much more than just a canoe race, New York Outrigger Canoe Club puts on a festival of Aloha, Manhattan style.

After emerging from the humid bowels of the NYC subway system you arrive at the race site at Pier 26. The backdrop is New Jersey, the Freedom tower, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. In the foreground is a massive concrete platform extending into the Hudson river. Every inch of Manhattan is bustling with activity and the multicultural atmosphere of the city makes unusual sites common place so most passerby's wouldn't even give the pier full of outrigger canoes and tradeshow tents a second glance. But to us, after spending four days outside of our comfort zone wandering the city, that pier felt like home. Finally after nearly a week of taxis, museums, hipster bars, pizza, and hot dogs, here was something that we understood. Twenty canoes sat on the pier and for the first time all week, we knew exactly what we were supposed to do.

In order to maximize the small amount of outrigger canoes on the East Coast, the women, men, and mixed all race separately. So the race organizers have created a festival to go along with the race. While your friends are out waging war on the East River and the Hudson, you get to hang out on the pier and do what paddlers do best: talk story. The Liberty Challenge, true to the spirit of Manhattan, is probably the most diverse of any outrigger canoe race. There are teams from South America, Canada, Australia, California, Europe, Hawai'i, and, of course, all across the East Coast. You can move seamlessly from talking about traditional Panamanian Cayucos (ama-less canoes) to hearing about what it's like to scrape ice off your OC-1 in London to the best way to navigate a loch in the North Eastern rivers. But, the best part of it all is the hum of activity surrounding you. A Manhattan based Hula troupe performs all day with intermissions filled by slack key guitarists; there is a trade show; and, the best part, there are twenty massage tables just waiting for willing patrons.

However, at some point you need to actually do the race. Though there were many times where we forgot it, racing is why we traveled six thousand miles from Hawai'i nei. The race goes down the Hudson, around the tip of Manhattan (called the Battery by NYC locals), through the Brooklyn Bridge to a turn buoy under the Manhattan Bridge, then out around Governor's Island to another turn buoy in front of the Statue of Liberty, down past Ellis island and 5.5 miles up the Hudson. The big circle of New York harbor insures that you get a little bit of every type of condition. Off of the battery can feel like a mini Makapu'u run, heading up the East River into a 3 knot current feels almost like your standing still, then when you make the turn you fly down the river at 10mph into a small surf run from the Statue of Liberty back into the Hudson. The most exciting part of the race, other than the epic scenery and unpredictable currents, is the fact that you are literally paddling a canoe in the busiest waterway in the world. Massive ferries, barges, speedboats, cruiseships, freighters, and tour boats are flying all around you. To get a sense of the madness, imagine the water traffic outside of Waikiki, multiply it by 1000 and add in a written law that commercial traffic has the right of way.

After the race, the organizers go one last step and put on a New York style Lu'au on a floating barge that doubles as a bar. Hula dancers perform with the sun setting over the Hudson river and New Jersey skyline in the background. Spam musubi, kalua pig, and kim chee are the meal. And, as all good parties in Manhattan, there is an open bar and standing room only. By the end of the evening, after a very full day, you feel as if the race organizers have thrown you in a pot, mixed in some Polynesian spirit, a little New York controlled chaos, and a lot of Aloha and the result is an incredible experience that you can't get anywhere else.

Check out this short video of our experience. Team Kamanu consisted of: Makana Denton, Justin Watts, Alfred Van Gieson, Keola Wright, Manny Kulukulu'alani, and Luke Evslin.

New York 2013 - Liberty Challenge from Makana Denton on Vimeo.

- All video credit goes to the movie master: Makana Denton

It's Begun

March 24, 2013

It's begun. Production on the new Pueo is in full swing. Well-- technically we're operating at 3/5s of capacity as we get our second mold operational, but it feels like full swing. Unfortunately we had some preliminary production bugs which pushed us a few weeks behind schedule. While we're hoping to get back on track as soon as our second mold is operational (approximately one month), the first fifteen orders are going to be approximately two weeks behind. If you're on the list and you were quoted with a March of April delivery, you will be getting a call from us shortly. Since we're running behind schedule, all our capacity is going towards customer and team canoes. So we won't have any stock canoes or demos available for at least one month. As of today, the wait list is out until late September. Thanks for your support and patience. Start keeping an eye out for the 2nd generation Pueo on the water.

New Ama

January 26, 2013

In the early years of the Pueo, we used to get a lot of sideways glances at the ama. "Huh? Why is the waterline so long," used to be asked by customers on a daily basis. Now that the paradigm-shifting ama has become commonplace, we've gone and re-designed it.

The original Pueo ama's extended waterline was among the first on the market to embrace the idea that the ama is acting as a second hull. When an ama has a lot of rocker, the resistance is constantly changing as a factor of how much weight your putting on it. Slight changes in weight result in drastic increases in resistance as you start pushing the rocker through the water. With a straight ama, you eliminate those drag spikes by allowing the efficiency to stay relatively constant regardless of how much downward pressure is applied.

We've taken four years of accumulated knowledge about the original ama and applied it to our second generation ama. While maintaining the long waterline of the original; we added volume so it could handle changes in pressure better; we kicked up the nose rocker a hair to keep the nose from digging; we rounded out the hull profile for added efficiency; we added a third setting to the front for added customizability; and the entry (where the water first makes contact with the hull) is much finer for added efficiency.

The sum of the changes is an ama that is not only more efficient in the flat, but it's looser and more responsive in the surf. And, starting today, we are opening up the list for custom ama orders. If you're interested in one, email us for an estimated delivery date or place an order at store.kamanucomposites.com/products/ama.

Pueo Teaser Video

January 14, 2013

Short teaser showing a glimpse into the construction of the new Pueo plug. More to come as the process unfolds. Video courtesy of Makana Denton.

New Pueo

January 14, 2013

Eighteen months ago we set out to improve the Pueo. After six hull prototypes, five amas, one record breaking Kaiwi channel, and a year of R&D we've finally begun the molding process. Limited production is expected to begin in late February.

There are two ways to purchase the new Pueo; off-the-shelf and custom:

  • Off-the-shelf canoes will be available for purchase out of our Kailua facility. A current listing of available canoes is continuously updated at kamanucomposites.com/available. Canoes start at $4250 and vary by lay-up and spray job.

  • Custom canoes start at $4400 and vary by lay-up and spray job complexity. The waitlist for the custom canoes will open at 8pm Monday, January 14th. For more information or to place an order, go to store.kamanucomposites.com/products/custom-pueo. A $1000 deposit must be made at the time of order.

If you have any questions, please email us at info@kamanucomposites.com or call us at (808) 228-8609. Thank you for the continuous support which has allowed us to get this far.