Boy Chun Fook
OUTRIGGER PADDLER, TACOMA
Began paddling at age 13 and now has 35 years of paddling experience
- Served as president of the Pacific Northwest Outrigger Racing Canoe Association (PNWORCA) for 18 years
- Competed in the 2018 Pailolo Challenge in Maui with Tacoma’s Kikaha O Ke Kai Hawaiian outrigger canoe team
- Participated in the Moloka’i Ho’e outrigger race a half dozen times, with the most Moloka’i Channel crossings on Pacific Northwest Teams
The sense of family is what Boy loves most about outrigger paddling. “We call ourselves the Kikaha ohana,” Boy said.
While the club represents paddlers from the recreational to the seriously competitive, outrigger paddling embodies a culture of bringing people together, especially those who have been away from home. Boy describes the club as a family, no matter the participants’ paddling level. “Kikaha is a community where you can relate to and help others. We all call each other brothers and sisters.”
Before every event, club members gather for a prayer circle to ask for guidance, safety, strength and protection for the paddlers, spectators and family members. Their practices and traditions have built a sense of camaraderie and unity in everything they do together.
That sense of family is what connects the Kikaha ohana’s nearly 150 members.
In Hawaiian lore, every family is protected by an ancestral spirit embodied in the form of an animal. When Boy was in his 20s, he spent most days boogie boarding in the surf. Around the same time every day, the tuna boats would return to the harbor and the sharks would advance in on their afternoon snack. This signaled the surfers to retreat to safety.
“When I found out sharks were my ‘aumakua, I decided to stay in the water while everyone went back to shore,” Boy said. Though sharks passed by, he never once ran into issues with the sharks. “While the rest of the surfers were getting out of the ocean, I got to stay in the water and have all the waves to myself.”
Throughout his 45 years of paddling, Boy has incorporated imua into his approach to paddling—and life. “Imua means, ‘go for it, remember the good stuff and always move forward in life.’” Boy is most inspired by enjoying life among all challenges, whether they’re the 26-mile Pailolo outrigger race in Maui or the famed Moloka’i Hoe outrigger race across Ka’iwi Channel a half dozen times.
True to his Hawaiian roots, Boy prefers the mountains and the sea—mauka and makai. “The ocean has always called to me. It’s my connection to home,” whether in Tacoma or Hawaii. “And the mountains are the most beautiful here in Washington.”
Mauka and makai are rooted in Hawaiian language, representing the natural geography of the islands, as well as the reality of the highs and lows of life. “There’s mauka and makai. Everything between is life, and we must always appreciate both sides.”
Interested in joining the ohana? Check out Kikaha O Ke Kai for more information on how to get involved.