OC1 Essay Contest Entry - Tony Galimba

The following submission was made as an entry to win a OC1 from an amazingly generous donor, who wanted to see the canoe truly enjoyed, rather than turn a profit. Entrants were asked to submit an essay answering the following:

  • Part 1: “Describe how paddling has changed your life.”
  • Part 2: “How do you plan to use this canoe, and perhaps someday pass it along?”

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Tony Galimba, Washington

Aloha Friends, I am responding to the generous opportunity to win an OC-1 Outrigger Canoe. I am submitting my story for your consideration.

My name is Tony Galimba. I am of Hawaiian heritage. My Aunt, Shirley Avilla and my Uncle Julian Avilla, Jr started a Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Club in 1984 in Monterey, Ca. Our home beach was Del Monte Beach right next to Fisherman's Wharf to honor our Hawaiian Culture.

I moved back to the Monterey Bay area in 1987 and joined the Ke Kai O'Uhane Outrigger Canoe Club of Monterey Bay. I gained a greater appreciation for my heritage because of paddling sports through paddling in the Masters Men's Division, as Youth Paddling Coach and Club's Board Vice President. My wife paddled and served the Club as the Treasurer as well.

From the Avilla Ohana's Vision for cultural awareness of the Hawaiian Culture and Hawaiian paddling sports; the Ke Kai O'Uhane Outrigger Canoe Ohana grew to represent our sport in Northern California, Southern California and Hawaii. From the Outrigger Canoe Club's presence a Hula Halau was started soon after.

Ke Kai O'Uhane Outrigger Canoe Club built the canoes of the Malia style. They were fiberglass. As the sport the OC-6 canoes evolved into long boats ie. Hawaiian Racer, Bradley & Walter Guild. We did a fundraiser and purchased our big ticket item Hawaiian Racer Canoe.

In 1989, Ke Kai O'Uhane Canoe Club was going to have their annual Luau fundraising event. This was the same year I was building my own OC-1 Fiberglass canoe. I had painted the OC-1 with a custom paint job. At that months board meeting and the luau date fast approaching the club was far short on available revenue until after the luau. I at that point offered my Custom OC-1 for a fundraising raffle. The OC-1 Canoe's name was Aloha Mua (First Love) representing my love for paddling, my culture and my Ohana.

The Luau funds were now available and my Aunt and Uncle started P.I.C.A Organization, to further educate Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and communities in Northern California about our beautiful Culture. Pacific Islanders Cultural Association was born, P.I.C.A for short.

In 1992 my wife and I moved to Hilo on the Big Island to follow my Grandmother's stories she shared with me as a child. While on the Big Island my wife and I learned about KOA Canoes and Koa Canoe Restoration @John Kekua's Kamehameha Canoe Canoe Halau. Although making a living required me to give up paddling briefly I would look out from Hilo towards Monterey Bay and I would recall my Aunty Shirley and Uncle Julian's Mission Statement for P.I.C.A to share our Hawaiian Culture and most fondly for Polynesian children to learn their culture through Hawaiian language, Outrigger Canoe Paddling, Hula & Olelo stories. Little did we know that Coach John Kekua was the conservator for the Hawaiian Koa Reforestation Project on the slopes of Mauna Kea. We would ride our horses with friends to chase the wild cows out of the conservation zone to save the small Koa trees. Little did we know that the 'Full Circle' was soon to approach its destination.

In 1999 we saw a friend at our church that we hadn't seen for awhile and I asked him how he was and where he had been. He shared that he had been diagnosed with Cancer and he invited my wife and I to his estate sale. As coincidence would have it; he told us that he had 4 antique Koa Canoes that had been in his family for generations. Knowing that thousands of miles separated us from our Monterey Ohana; we asked our Aunt and Uncle if we were to buy these canoes, would they be interested in taking them back to California to teach the keikis and Kupuna how to restore these precious paddling treasures. They responded 'YES" !

We arranged for Aunty Shirley, Uncle Julian and Ke Kai O'Uhane's Kahu Sam Hart to come to Hilo to visit us and arrange for the canoes to be shipped back to San Francisco. They came to our house and we enjoyed Ohana time. During their stay, we arranged a personal Koa Canoe Restoration clinic with John Kekua and Bobby Puakea. We went to the Koa Forests and harvested Hou Wood from our secret Hou Tree Forest for lakos and Amas. We knew that the canoes would fill a much needed gap in the cultural void between Hawaii, Mainland and generations gone by.

Two Koa Outriggers were restored, a 16 foot Koa Outrigger fishing canoe built in 1959 in Hilo Bay and 27 foot Koa Outrigger Surfing canoe built in Kealakekua in 1925 and surfed in Waikiki from 1927 to 1940's.

I have since moved back to the mainland to be with my Daughter and Grandchildren in Spanaway, Washington. I am respectfully presenting my OC-1 Essay in hopes to come full circle and share Outrigger Canoe Paddling with our MooPuna.

My Aunty Shirley and Uncle Julian passed away earlier this year and we just represented Ohana in a tribute to their lives as we paddled their ashes out into Monterey Bay to honor their memory prior to the Ke Kai O'Uhane's Memorial Day Long Distance Canoe Races (Races that Aunty and Uncle had dreamt of doing for many years}


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