The first-ever Holopuni Outrigger three-person sailing canoe race was held at Hanalei Bay on Sunday.
All of the canoe sailed in the race were manufactured by Nick Beck’s Holopuni Canoes. The sailing canoe hulls are custom manufactured and are 30 feet in length, and employ two amas and main sails of 100 sq. ft.
There are currently five of the Holopuni-design canoes on Kaua’i, and four were in the race at Hanalei Bay. The triangular course ran from the beach park at Hanalei Bay to along the coast off the Pali Ke Kua condominiums at Princeville, followed by a leg into the channel buoys and back to the beach.
The rule required crews of no more than three, no paddling with only the steersman having a paddle, with the extra crewmembers working the sails and balancing the boats.
Nick Beck, who is now retired after over two decades as principal at Hanalei School, is manufacturing the Holopuni hulls in Truckee, Ca. Beck is well known in the world of outrigger canoe paddling and has been a coach with the Hanalei Hawaiian Civic Canoe Club, and in the 1950s and 1960s paddled for the Outrigger Canoe Club and Waikiki Surf Club, and the Kauai Canoe Club.
“It’s so much fun, you can go faster,” Beck said. “The traditional Hawaiian canoes were originally for sailing, not just for paddling.”
“We’re getting more orders and trying build up a fleet,” he said during a recent trip back to Kaua’i from his mainland home in Lake Tahoe, Ca. They are built by Jim Betts, the creator of a number of America Cup Challenge boats, including the True America.
“One order from Maui is shipping at the end of August, and one more canoe is going to Virginia Beach, and one is going to Bora Bora in French Polynesia,” he said. “There are a number of people interested in the islands, too.”
In 1981 Beck adapted an outrigger canoe to sailing he named Holopuni and used the sailing canoe to circumnavigate all the main Hawaiian Islands from the Big Island to Ni’ihau, an voyage he spread out over the 1980s and 1990s. Beck is working on a book that tells the story of his island sails, and is comparing his view of the coastlines of Hawai’i to descriptions of the areas written by early western explorers.
Beck sailed the first Holopuni to victory in the inaugural Na Holo Kai held in 1987. He and his crew sailed from Pokai Bay in Leeward O’ahu to the beach at Kalapaki.