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April 2008

Pacific Northwest News

Kikaha Outrigger Canoe Club Looks Forward to a New Tacoma Paddling Center

By Andy Michels

Courtesty of AHBL

The Federal Way Kikaha O Ke Kai Outrigger Canoe Club is participating in public meetings to plan a new paddling center on the Foss Waterway in downtown Tacoma, Washington. The Foss Waterway Development Authority (FWDA) has held three public input meetings and a hearing to gather the public’s ideas for development of the three-acre site.

Kikaha President John Richardson testified at a hearing on March 19th urging the FWDA Board to design the facility to allow the larger six man canoes to be stored and launched from the site. “The plan under consideration will work great for one and two man canoes, buts lacks a launching ramp necessary for larger canoes and dragonboats to benefit from the development,” he said.

The site was purchased with Pierce County Conservation Futures funds to preserve open space and for a human-powered boating center. Support for placement of the Tacoma Children Museum on the site ran into legal problems and community criticism. Open space advocates criticized the museum’s plans as inconsistent with the plans for the site that lead to its purchase with the Conservation Futures funding. The museum has since dropped its bid for the site.

The FWDA hired the Tacoma consulting firm AHBL to conduct a series of meeting to gather ideas for site development. Kikaha members attended in mass to support the paddling center development. Tacoma lacks parks with access where outriggers, kayaks, and dragonboaters can launch and enjoy Commencement Bay. Development of this site near downtown is ideal because of its proximity to the protected water of the Foss Waterway.

Because of its location and favorable conditions, Kikaha paddlers in one man canoes frequently use the Foss for training workouts. Kikaha also trained on the Foss Waterway during the winter of 2005 in preparation for the World Sprint Championships in New Zealand. Conditions on the Foss water are always smoother than in Commencement Bay where the wind can make water too rough for most paddlers.

The FWDA will make decisions about the site development plan later this spring. The plan will attempt to balance open space and boating interests. The development authority will be managing the permitting and construction of improvements on the site. A float and access ramp on site will open this fall. Full development of the site plan is dependent on funding and could take several years, but Kikaha is hopeful its needs will be served.

Founded in 1996, the Kikaha O Ke Kai Outrigger Canoe Club paddles out of Steele Lake in Federal Way. Kikaha is a non-profit organization dedicated to the sport of Hawaii Outrigger canoe paddling. The club participates in local races, has sent members to races in Bora Bora, New Zealand and Hawai`i and is currently preparing for the World Sprint Championship in Sacramento this August. Kikaha has both adult and keiki programs and welcomes new members wanting to discover this exciting sport. You can get more information at the club’s website www.kikaha.com.

Kikaha is one of eighteen clubs in the Pacific Northwest Outrigger Canoe Racing Association (www.PNWORCA.org). The outrigger canoe summer season begins on April 26th with the 2008 Rusty Iron Distance Race at Cathedral Park in Portland, Oregon. Kikaha sponsors the next race on May 17th, the 2008 Manu K. Baker Sprints at Spanaway Lake, Spanaway, Washington

Andy Michels joined Kikaha five years ago and was recently elected club secretary.  Although he grew up in the desert of eastern Washington, he enjoys the Aloha spirit of Kikaha and the northwest outrigger community.  He claims to be the fastest outrigger paddler on Wollechet Bay outside of Gig Harbor! 


Hawaii's Strongest Man Contest

Grant Higa from O`ahu who now lives in Washington, participated in the 16th Hawaii's Strongest Man Contest held in March in from of the Pwerhouse Gym on Keawe Street in Honolulu. Events included 880 lb Yoke Walk, 1,100 Tire Flip and Truck Pull. This photo shows Grant pulling a 60,000 lb tow truck. He said "81° and no tradewinds, while competing on asphalt." Of 21 competitors, Grant placed 6th. Ho`omaika`i Grant!

For a previous story on Grant, go to PNWNews August 2006.

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