John M. Lake was serving a Commodore of Ma’alaea Boat and Fishing Club in 1960 when he organized Hawaiian Canoe Club with 25 other charter members of Hawaiian ancestry. Canoe racing using flat-bottom boats was added to the high-power boat races taking place between the two piers in Kahului Harbor.
John M. Lake originally obtained the rough-shaped log for a koa canoe in 1952 from George Hendriques of Kahala, Hawai’i Island. He worked o building the canoe in the late 1950s for Ma’alaea Boat and Fishing Club. In 1961, he purchased and refurnished the canoes. At the Lake’s home in Olowalu, it was christened Kokololio-Swift Winds of Waikapu-and became Hawaiian Canoe Club’s first canoe.
The club continued to grow, with about three quarters of the membership being keiki. Funds were raised by the sale of kulolo and laulau, catering l?’au, and community support. The number of canoe clubs on Maui and participation in regattas kept growing. HCC facilitated this growth by loaning canoes to other clubs, even loaning Kokololio to Kahului Canoe Club for a number of years.
Hawaiian Canoe Club participated in its first state regatta in 1962. Crews were blended with paddler from Hawaiian, Lahaina, and Kahului canoe clubs. HCC’s first gold medal at the State Championship was won in 1984 by the 12 & Under Boys crew.
In 1967, HCC purchased its first fiberglass canoe. It was blessed and christened Keoni in honor of John M. Lake. Since then HCC has added over a dozen canoes to its fleet, most named after the ali’i of Maui or distinguished members of HCC.
In 1985 HCC won its first MCHCA Championship-a title won every year since. With a rapidly growing club, HCC leaders formalized their commitment to the keiki with the formation of the autonomous Hawaiian Kamali’i, Inc. which now serves hundred of keiki every summer through the Hawaiian Kamali’i Summer Enrichment Program. Keiki learn Hawaiian culture, oli, mele, hula, protocol, traditional food preparation, religion, navigation, and receive training in character building, leadership, and ocean safety.
Most recently, HCC has strung together an impressive line of HCRA State Championships winning 13 out of the past 17 years. This success is attributed in part to Pahili Kiu, the koa canoe built by Fafa Toofa in 2002.