Greatest Paddlers of All Time

I was just compiling a list of the Greatest Paddlers of all Time and noticed that I had a definite O'ahu bias. I was wondering if anyone out there could help me come up with some paddlers from the rest of the world. No suggestions are too obscure. I'm seriously expecting a flood of nominees.

Submitted by Jim on Tue, 11/28/2006 - 5:17pm

i think there were a bunch of names put out there.

pretty sure the overall feeling was the guy having the most fun is by far the best paddler.

#1 Tue, 11/28/2006 - 6:15pm

Humor me, jc9-0.

#2 Tue, 11/28/2006 - 6:53pm

I would have a list of Hawaii names, which I can see are already popping up.
I'm curious about great paddlers abroad.


#3 Thu, 11/30/2006 - 9:20am

I only know the Hawaiian ones which would be the 2006 Hawaiki Nui Team (Men and Women).

I gotta broaden my horizons little bit. Who's the tops out of places like Mainland, Tahiti, New Zealand Australia?

#4 Tue, 11/28/2006 - 8:13pm

This is a hard one. I guess that would depend on what the criteria is as far as "Greatest". There's the six-man, one-man, two-man canoes and there are many great paddlers who never raced. The first name that comes to mind is the Great Duke Kahanamoku. He taught generations of paddlers who went onto achieve much success.

#5 Tue, 11/28/2006 - 11:05pm

I would nominate this legendary Canadian marathon paddler. He has won every General Clinton 70 mile canoe marathon he has entered (over 20), with several different partners. I believe he was on a winning Molokai OC-6 team also.

#6 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 5:56am

Thanks hawaiian paddler and hydrophilic. I was going to start with Duke(of course). Hydrophilic, can you think of any other great marathoners?

#7 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 6:34am

Easy. Greatest paddlers of all time would have to be your coaches or any other paddler who took the time to teach you and others the sport and its heritage. Sure, there are those who excel when you put a stopwatch and a course together, but the greatest paddlers are those who are out there trying to enlighten, encourage, and more importantly inspire others to do the same.

I’d have to put Nappy Napoleon in that category, Lewis Laughlin, Walter Guild, to name a few - and then anyone else, friend or stranger, who picked up a paddle and joined you with a smile on their face and made you sweat on out on the water.

#8 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 7:42am

Thank you, Ocpadlr. Those guys are tops in my book, too. Still looking for Tahitians and Australians, though.

#9 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 7:52am

Sammy Steamboat. Did more than you know for the paddling community.

#10 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 7:59am

Awesome, keep it coming.

#11 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 8:01am

Lewis is from Tahiti, Karyl Maoni, as are up-and-comers Manutea Owen, Maitai Danielson, Georges Cronsteadt, their version of Junior, Kai, Danny Ching and others on our shores...

#12 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 8:06am

Ocpadlr, can you think of any other guys from that Fa'a'a crew? Across the board geographically, I'm looking for more old-school guys first, as I reckon the more recent people will be easier to find out about.

#13 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 8:14am

I'm not too familiar with the other folks on that legendary crew.

Should probably mention Auntie Hannie Anderson, not necessarily as "old-school" or "legendary", but great and and inspiring! : )

Lisa Curry-Kenny for Oz.

#14 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 8:34am

How about Gene Jensen who invented the bent shaft paddle? Just another name from the marathon world. Thanks for including us cold water marathon folks. We love our outriggers too but it's more comfortable to paddle marathon when there is a thin film of ice on the water.

#15 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 9:10am

i have no exact way to determine the greatest paddlers of all time whether it be by influence, accomplishment, knowledge etc. but those i truly look up to are Duke(first on everyones list), The Bartletts, Aaron Napoleon, Lauren Spalding, Alana Goo, Tapa Worthington, Danny Ching, Maui Kjeldsen, Mike Judd, Keola Wright(awesome video), Karel Tresnak Jr, Manny Kulukulualani, Kelly Foster(just cause hes my cousin no other reason lol), Luke Evslin, Keizo Gates(best steersman kauai high has ever seen), Patrick Dolan, Ryan Dolan, Butch Keahiolalo, Noe Auger, Mark Frazier, Kea Paiaina, Thibert Lussia, Jim Foti, Just a few off my head, sorry if i forgot anyone which i know i did. i hope i dont get chewed for my input but my input means basically nothing so no one get mad haha.

#16 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 9:17am

There are no wrong answers,bruddah Cameron.

#17 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 10:04am

Buffalo and his fam, Billy Whitford, Mike Kincaid from the sailing community, Nainoa the list is endless, ...the guy who eeked 17th place from you...anyone who you derive inspiration off of.

#18 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 10:12am

What about Scotty "duke" Freitas, Chris Kincaid, Ikaika Kincaid, Ikaika Harbottle and Eric "Big Red" Levora? Not too mention Kamoa Kalama, Stu Kalama, Dave Kalama and Anne Malama. The list goes on and on...

#19 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 10:33am

Foti Brothers?

#20 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 3:12pm

I didn't want to show my Lanikai partisanship too much- to me John foti is like the Michael Jordan of paddling.

#21 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 3:38pm

I agree- like Jordan he keeps retiring and coming back...and winning...

#22 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 4:10pm

From the Land down under would have to be the following

The current crop of Greg Long, Travis Grant, Chris Maynard and from the past Jason Sommerville - Kimlin

These are ones you would have heard of and seen in Hawaii.


#23 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 5:05pm

for once i can't really say anyone in particular.

how about this, the best guys i've been fortunate enough to get in a boat with, Mark Hines (he taught me everything i know about paddling), goto, cause you kicked ass back in the day and made it more fun than work. Also the mighty, albeit slightly expanded, Jimothy McFarnum. Got to mention Brandon Woods, cause he is INSANE fast, even after blowing a disk in his back and only learning to paddle since the age of 15.

Props to all the rest of the gang i was fortunate enough to have pull my ass around before my body took a big dump on me.

alright dammit, Junior, Dolan, Brandon Woods....if you're not sure who Brandon is, watch for him on the US world or olympic team with Dolan in the next couple years.

#24 Wed, 11/29/2006 - 8:03pm

Kala Kukea, Nainoa Thompson, Bruce Blankenfeld, Sammy Steamboat, Too many to mention

#25 Thu, 11/30/2006 - 7:37am

1)Over 40 yrs old) : Heitara TEHAHE - Roland TEAHUI - Gerard TEIVA - Rhodo BERNARDINO - the legendary PUA NIHO from Tautira - Tuura MAIRAU - Louison MATI - René AVAEPII - Alain MAKER - Maxime MAMA...etc

2) the younger ones : Mike VARNEY - Bruno TAUHIRO - David TEPAVA - Christopher MOUA - Taaroa DUBOIS - Heimoana MAIRAU - Heiarii TEAKURA - Conrad VAN BASTOLAER - Heiarii MAMA - Lucien TARA - Jimmy PIRATO...etc

Without forgetting, probably the 2 most rewarded in Tahiti : Karyl MAONI and Lewis LAUGHLIN

#26 Thu, 11/30/2006 - 9:11am

While not as long an OC history up here we can add some names from distance and sprint racing in six mand and solo:

Women: Kamini Jain, Sheila Kuyper, Jackie Webber, Andrea Dillon, Cheryl Skribe, Lori Velisek, Rosemary Henry, Sandra Nelson, Joanne Aitken, Diane Shepard, Jacinta Sheridan, Kim MacMillan, Florida Town, Sue Milligan,...

Men: Hugh Fisher, Don Irvine, Paul MacNamara, Laci Budjos, Calvin Chow, Brian Webster, Bob Stewart, Ken Crosby, John Roberts, Ron Williams SR,...

When we go to flatwater paddling the list gets much longer and deeper!

Can other Canadians help me out with more?

#27 Thu, 11/30/2006 - 11:22am

Thanks to everyone for their contributions! What started as an attempt to foster positive paddling talk has taken on a life of its own. VTA, do you know of any famous historical/mythological Tahitian paddlers? I'd like to go as far back in history as possible. Alan C, thank you for your contributions. As a former Lanikai boy paddling in Seattle, I'm really impressed by the Canadian OCers, as well as the guys who mostly do marathon and occasionally jump in the Outrigger(Vernon?). Those guys totally kicked our asses at Gibson's. With an experienced OC steersman, they'd be dangerous. Please keep the suggestions coming! I'd like to hear more from Down Under-Brad Kane etc.Goto, bite your tounge.

#28 Thu, 11/30/2006 - 11:51am

Willy R. cuz he's like 50 and he'll kick your a** haha and Super Dave...enough said

#29 Thu, 11/30/2006 - 12:25pm

Who's Willy R.? Which Supah Dave? Are you from Scotland, nb1376?

#30 Thu, 11/30/2006 - 12:31pm

reichenstein...he is...i'm not and he's 58 i out...beware the accent haha...

#31 Thu, 11/30/2006 - 7:29pm

No promises but I'll see what I can do.

#32 Thu, 11/30/2006 - 2:26pm

Andrew Triebold
Ron Williams
Serge Corbin
Claude Corbin
Greg Barton
Jeff Kolka
Normand Mainguy

#33 Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:10am

Lewis Laughlin!

#34 Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:30am

The greatest paddler? Thats a hard question. I have met many great paddler and it would be hard to narow it down. There's a story I heard when I was boy. A great campfire story . when you can hear canoes going up river late at night when no one is out there. Or It has to be told as a break during a long paddle. At a place that use to be a old village site where no one lives anymore. As the story goes, you can never be the greatest, that there is always somone better. ( just to keep you modest) that when you get good and get in front and, start to leave the other canoes, in your wake. You get far enough ahead, so you can not hear the other canoes behind you. Your all by youself! In front of you in the distance, at times. only if your super fast. If you listen hard enough and are far enough ahead you will hear the gost canoe and they are the best paddleres that have ever lived and there canoe has no weight and the wind canot slow them. They paddle all day and night. Some day if you get there you are in paddleres heaven.

#35 Wed, 08/04/2010 - 12:33pm

Love that story mulus..................puts paddling in perfect perspective.

#36 Wed, 08/04/2010 - 2:40pm

Waga K'yele! Mulus! I got a great story of ancestral "pullers" from my tribe.

A young man while visiting another tribe's village to court a young woman, killed a rich headman in an argument over her. The headman's village demanded payment for his death or there'd start a war until someone else (in the village was killed to satisfy the offended village. (It's sort of a system of fairness..eye for an eye type thing). Because the headman was very wealthy the victim's village demanded an exorbitant sum. The young mans village knew that they'd never be able to raise that kind of money. So they asked for a year's time to gather the money. The village worked diligently for a year. The victims village showed up one year later to collect payment (or make war). No one was there and the village had been abandoned!

In that year the young man's village worked diligently to carve a canoe large enough to fit every member of the village in it and paddled off into the ocean a few days before the debt was due. They knew the sum was so large that they'd never been able to gather the they elected to take their chances at sea.

Near the end of World War II, one of our tribal members had made it to Japan. While he was on one of the islands in Japan he met a man that could speak his (our tribe's) Miluk language! ( on Southern Oregon coast). After the war he came back and told the rest of the tribe. Pretty big coincidence or suspect..depending on which way you look at it. Who knows it could be a rural "Indian" story...only passed around my tribe, but interesting none the less. My cousin wants us to do DNA tests on ourselves and the verify our oral history. I'm just cool with the story no needles or cotton swabs needed.

As for greatest paddlers....i'd figured the people in that village would be tops on my list! Paddling (running) away from debt collectors would make every one a great paddler I think.

sorry to hijack your thread...but I think it puts into perspective on what we think a "great" paddler is. Gene Jensen, and all those guys are pretty badass though.

I got a good paddling story of my dad too...but not a racing one. Maybe I'll hijack a different thread and insert it in there when I feel it's appropriate.

#37 Wed, 08/04/2010 - 4:46pm

I've got to give the Hui Lanakila perspective and mention Raven Aipa.....great paddler and coach as well. Plus he's good fun to drink with!

#38 Wed, 08/04/2010 - 5:50pm

Would have to be one of the tahitians. They win World sprints and Super Aito. Still waiting to see lewis give molo solo a go.

#39 Wed, 08/04/2010 - 8:31pm

For the wahines...Lauren Spalding-Bartlett is definitely the most dominant canoe paddler in history yet!

#40 Wed, 08/04/2010 - 8:58pm

Leighton Look

#41 Wed, 08/04/2010 - 9:08pm

We are all "great". We are all "all time". We, all of us, are participating and adding to the sport, the culture. Fuck the idea that some out there have played a more significant role then others. The next generation are and will make you great and all time thinking individuals mere mortals. This shit is just canoe paddleing. The center of the universe could care less. Honor our predecessors, but avoid the who's better then who action.

#42 Wed, 08/04/2010 - 9:22pm

thank you KGB- ridiculous and stupid post - just shut up and paddle everyone.

#43 Wed, 08/04/2010 - 9:27pm

And this shit is just the internet.....someone having some fun on the internet. Just shut up and read. Or don't.

#44 Thu, 08/05/2010 - 5:46am

I kinda agree with KGB... let's avoid the "who's better then who action" and boycott all the races from here on out - starting this weekend. Who's with me?!

#45 Thu, 08/05/2010 - 8:26am

In retrospect my comment was a bit over the top. My excuse was my feeling a bit aggro after yesterdays next to last sprint practice for States. "goto", I will definetly join you in a boycott. After Saturday that is.

#46 Thu, 08/05/2010 - 9:17am

Sounds good to me KGB! ...but my boycott will have to start after NEXT Saturday - the 14th. Hooray for cruising!

#47 Thu, 08/05/2010 - 9:20am

Who would be the best juniors out there?

#48 Thu, 08/05/2010 - 9:42am

here are a few names worth a mention
Wyatt Jones
Peter Newton
Foti bros
I had the luck to be coached by Kala Kukea, Billy Whitford, George Kissner and Johnny Puakea just to name a few
Who is to say what is the greatest? The fastest sprinter? Long distance? 6man?surf-ski? OC1? V1? K-1? C-1?

Some guys are great at one type, very few are Great in more than one discipline,

I would say the Dolans are well on their way

#49 Thu, 08/05/2010 - 10:36am

No nominations for the Fuze ??? Whats` up with that???

#50 Thu, 08/05/2010 - 1:49pm

KGB would like to nominate his buddy Mark Buck to be "GREATEST OF ALL TIME".

#51 Thu, 08/05/2010 - 3:40pm

Great answers above...But the guy on the post right before my post has to be on the list as well. Tommy Conner without a doubt! (11 Molo wins, I think).

#52 Thu, 08/05/2010 - 4:31pm

Tommy, I am truly speechless. Bring beer on Saturday and not the Chinese variety. oxo, KGB

#53 Thu, 08/05/2010 - 8:33pm

Ding and Cappie...........
my favorite drinking partners

#54 Thu, 08/05/2010 - 8:44pm

How's the Chinese beer?

#55 Thu, 08/05/2010 - 10:57pm

Surprising that Marshall Rosa hasn't been mentioned. Major impact paddler, just ask the Tahitians who came for Molokai and were beaten in 1975 and 1977. Most of the young and upcoming paddlers today do not even know who he is. He just got tired of paddling heavy canoes and switched to a surfski 30 years ago. Lucky for most of you too, because even in his mid 60's could still make any first crew easily if he wanted to.

#56 Fri, 08/06/2010 - 12:43am

Paul Malama
Marc Haine

#57 Fri, 08/06/2010 - 5:35am

The Rigg brothers

#58 Sun, 08/08/2010 - 3:44pm

How about the legendary Mindy Clark?

#59 Mon, 08/09/2010 - 4:55am

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