Liberty Registration Is Open

Just wanted to let everyone know that registration is now open for the Liberty World Outrigger Competition. This year celebrates the 15th anniversary of the race and is on track to have the biggest field of international crews yet. Liberty includes two 15-mile races (men’s and women’s) and an 11-mile mixed race. All races are iron.

Any crews from out of town in need of a canoe are strongly encouraged to register early, as we make boats available on a first come, first served basis.

Lots of info on the race is available on our website:

or you can email us at:



Submitted by aukaiNYC on Tue, 03/08/2011 - 6:08am

Hey that's cool Brent all the best with it. No NY Mayors Cup this year unfortunately i hear?

#1 Sat, 03/12/2011 - 2:35am

Thanks Rambo, we are planning for a really big year to celebrate the hard work of everyone who has kept the race going over the the past 15 years. It's insane the amount of time and effort it takes to pull off a canoe race in New York City - logistics, permits, etc.

I was bummed to hear that Ray is not doing Mayor's Cup again this year. Last year was such a success, and moving the date up to August made for much calmer weather conditions. The cancellation came as a real surprise to everybody. Hopefully he or someone else will pick it up again in the coming years.

#2 Sat, 03/12/2011 - 6:43am

Yes, it is a shame, such an iconic event. Blew me away the amount of organization needed to run an event in NY, so many authorities to involve. Ray has said he may revive it in future. Goto and Luke enjoyed the pain of circumnavigation.

#3 Sat, 03/12/2011 - 1:12pm

Rambo: you got any video footage of the first Liberty where the CG stopped the lead Hawaii crew in the middle of the race?

#4 Sat, 03/12/2011 - 9:09pm

No i have only shot last years NY Mayors Cup. Was that the first one in 1996?? I doubt ant video exists from back then. Or are you thinking 2008? Namolokama Open Men (with Gene Lopez)

But one thing i can say Koa, is if any crew is stopped mid race in NY by authorities', it's for a good reason. This a major commercial shipping location in one of the busiest urban harbors in the world. The planning and prior arrangements with all the authorities including, Coast Guard, Mayors Office, Water Police, Fire, Transport Authorities, (the list goes on) will blow your mind. I witnessed the mountain of documents and contingency arrangements needed to run the Mayors Cup while i was there and it's a credit to the race organizers they even bother to put these races on and come back and do the same thing year after year. I watch Ray Fusco last year cry his eyes out at the presentations from the emotional toll it took on him to run the NY Mayors Cup and have enormous respect for him doing so.

The Liberty Race will be no different, someone has to do all this work and someone has to be ultimately responsible if things go wrong.

In my opinion, the thrill of competing here is not just the paddling, it's the participation amongst all this chaos and being surrounded by all these iconic locations, i've not see anything like this anywhere else, it's unique to NY.

This Liberty Race and Molokai Hoe are like chalk and cheese, they're at opposite ends of the spectrum and i recon every dinkum outrigger paddler should have them both on their "to bloody do" list.


#5 Sun, 03/13/2011 - 12:28am

Sorry Rambo,
But it was for no good reason - just ignorance, for they never saw a six man outrigger canoe before and wondered what the heck it was. ESPN2 televised the first race back in 1997 (not 1996). There was also a front page picture of the winning Hawaii crew and canoe in one of the New York papers (Post? I can't find it anymore). The Times had a front page picture of a women's crew in the June 28, 1998 edition for the 2nd annual race. Too bad can't find that video anymore of the CG racing over and hailing the canoe to stop, just out of curiosity in the middle of the race. Took the CG awhile to figure out what was going on before they let them go. They could of cost them the lead?

#6 Tue, 03/15/2011 - 2:23pm

I thought the first Liberty was '96 but i could be wrong. Be nice to see that video, i searched everywhere even the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, nothing there. Bummer.

I still recon the chaos is all part of the race, stoppages and all and there have been plenty of them over the years.
I wonder what i said between the Oc6 and the CG??
Who was in the canoe Koa?

#7 Tue, 03/15/2011 - 2:52pm

This is a good read from 2003 FOX news

Funny how perceptions change hey.

NEW YORK — Picture the opening of Hawaii Five-O: McGarrett looking tough, "Book 'em, Dano" chasing down a bad guy and a group of bare-chested Hawaiians paddling a funky-looking canoe down a breaking wave.

Now picture that canoe, actually a seagoing vessel called an outrigger, paddled by a group of men and women of various ages around the Statue of Liberty. That was the scene recently in New York, just one East Coast port city where a growing number of people are trying this newly trendy sport.

A traditionally Hawaiian sport in the U.S., outrigging is being taken up by athletes in places like Philadelphia, Connecticut and Virginia, where palm trees and coconuts are rare but thrill-seekers aren't. The sport is more popular and better established on the West Coast.

“It took root in about 1996 ... They started with one, two, three clubs with uncoalesced humans who loved the culture and the sport,” said Roger Meyer, founder of New York Outrigger. “From there, in the span of seven years, we have 40 clubs ranging from 15 to 100 members per club.”

More than 50 teams from places as varied as Hawaii, England, Germany, Australia and the East Coast competed in the seventh annual Liberty World Challenge last month. The six-person canoes followed a course down the Hudson River around the tip of Manhattan to the Brooklyn Bridge and back.

“I was amazed at how big [outrigger canoeing] is here,” said Jacy Youn, a 28-year-old Hawaii native who competed. “As long as they keep the culture alive and the spirit of the ocean, I think it’s great.”

Blake Conant, president of the East Coast Outrigger Racing Association, said it’s not the physical sport, but something more elusive that draws newcomers.

“I truly believe it’s the aloha spirit, and I mean that without being trite,” said the 49-year-old Hawaii native who lives in Connecticut. “These things are made of fiberglass. The paddles are made of carbon. Many people have never been to Hawaii and this is the closest they are going to get, but the fact is the sport breeds togetherness.”

Kristina Burns, a school psychologist from Fairfield, Conn., has paddled with a team for several years. She said the combination of community and competitiveness keeps her committed.

“I'm pretty competitive and the workout's good, but the teamwork keeps me going,” said Burns, 33. “Everyone kind of has the aloha spirit. It makes you feel like you are part of a larger community.”

Though she’s never visited the island state, Burns said she appreciates the laid-back Hawaiian style. “East Coast people move fast. The pace is faster than the West … [But] paddlers on the East Coast can appreciate the peace that’s part of Hawaii.”

In fact, the mystique of the tropics is partly what enthralls outrigger neophytes.

“In California and Hawaii, the sport is ho-hum. It’s like playing soccer or baseball,” Conant said. “The people on the East Coast are starry-eyed.”

And how do Hawaiians feel about mainlanders co-opting the tradition once practiced by the islands' kings?

“I think they welcome it," said Conant. "I grew up in Hanalei on the north shore of Kauai and the people are pleased as pink to see this sport growing on the East Coast."

Meyer, who is from Maine, said he’s mostly gotten support for his New York club -- despite some initial suspicion.

“There was that vein of, ‘Oh my God, New York has what could be the most popular outrigger race in the nation,’” he said. “They are a bit [apprehensive] about change, but luckily the sport is hung together by its millennia-old culture.”

So, what happens if a Hawaiian team loses to a group of guys from Boston who’ve never been to the beaches of Waikiki?

“Without exception, people would say ‘Hats off to these guys because they beat the best.’” So said Richard Lee, of the Outrigger Canoe Club in Honolulu, which celebrates its 100-year anniversary in 2006. "There's a little embarrassment involved there. The next year, they would work harder.”

Indeed, Youn seemed unfazed her team had lost to the Northeast Outrigger club in the Liberty Challenge. Instead, she said she was proud the Hawaiian culture was being celebrated all the way across the country.

“To have the aloha spirit in a city like New York, that’s great.”

#8 Tue, 03/15/2011 - 3:04pm

This report from 1998 with Todd Bradley

#9 Wed, 03/16/2011 - 12:54am


Perhaps one of these gentlemen can relate to you the story:

I had the video on my old desktop, but lost it when the computer crashed w/o backup. The old outrigger group, before switching to Yahoo, had the 1997 video and the front page canoe photo posted to their site.

#10 Tue, 03/15/2011 - 10:29pm

Thanks Koa, so it was Walter, Mike, Todd, Steve, Jim, John and guy with the statue ? I know the face, forget the name. arghh yes a young T-bear, thanks Koa.

That Flicker link is a goldmine of old photo's of the race, must be a 1000 pics. Some stories in there i can see. Looks like Keith Tsang's and Roger Meyer's (race organizers) Flicker account.

Well there goes most of tomorrow, going thru photos.....argghhh!!!

#11 Wed, 03/16/2011 - 2:14am

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