Keiki Race

May 18, 2024

George A. Perry was born and raised in Waikiki. For all his youth, he played both in-and-out of its then unspoiled waters, eventually becoming a Beach Boy. In the 1920s and 1930s, as a member of Outrigger Canoe Club, he paddled under legendary coach “Dad” Center. During his early years, he became close to the famous Kalai Waa Jim Kaya, who was the “Domi”—Outrigger’s current and highly respected Canoe Builder–of that period. Kaya crafted and repaired many canoes of that era, and is the reason that George became interested in the art of canoe building. He was close friends with many of the old-time legends, including Toots Minvielle, and Duke Kahanamoku. In fact, he was Duke’s insurance agent.

In 1937, George resigned from Outrigger, to move to Lanikai and start a family. Back then, it was a long trip to and from Waikiki, on the Old Pali Road.  When he didn’t have time for the long drives, he borrowed two Koa canoes and helped establish Lanikai Canoe Club. The canoes were named A’a, and Manuke’oke’o. A’a, the first Koa Racing Canoe ever built, had been owned by Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole. Established specifically for the youth on the Oahu’s Windward side, our club’s first Board of Directors and its Officers, were all under 17 years of age. George’s son Tay, was our first President, at 16 years old.

In 1954, the club was gifted with a Koa log. George and the kids spent a full year hewning, building, and finishing Kehukai! In 1959, George and a very young Lanikai crew, entered their first Molokai to Oahu race, known back then as MO’OAHU, coming in fourth in their homemade Koa canoe.

About the Race

George was a true believer in Hawaii’s youth. To honor him and his Aloha, the first George Perry Memorial Na Keiki O Na Waa was held in 1996, organized by former club president Mauli Olds Aspelund, who was coached by George as a youth. LCC’s clubhouse was out of her home, for its first 25 years. There were 18 race events offered for 12 – 18-year-old girls, boys, and mixed crews. Many said that the kids wouldn’t be able to handle the distances. The incentive then, and still, is providing youth paddlers, the same benefits, and exposure as adults, in our ever-growing sport. Kids love this race! Today, this race has grown from 44 entries across 18 events, to nearly 120 entries through 21 events. Aloha Nui Kakou me Mahalo Piha, for your support!