One immigrant’s contribution to paddle sports

"Most of today’s lightweight canoes and kayaks can be traced back to the one company."
  • "Most of today’s lightweight canoes and kayaks can be traced back to the one company."

One of the longest running races featuring outrigger canoes, surfskis, paddleboards, standup paddleboards and kayaks will be held again this Saturday in Mission Bay. Some 650 athletes ages 7 to 80 will compete. The Hanohano Huki Ocean Challenge will kick off the SoCal Winter Racing Series, which includes the Hal Rosoff Classic in Newport Beach and the Lanakila Classic in King Harbor.

Past Event

Hanohano Huki Ocean Challenge

  • Saturday, January 26, 2019, 8 a.m.
  • Bonita Cove, 1100 W. Mission Bay Drive, San Diego
  • Free - $30

A large part of modern, popular designs in outrigger canoes come from an immigrant to Hawaii from Czechoslovakia, Karel Tresnak. In Czechoslovakia, Karel was two-time white water kayak champion and represented his home country in the 1972 Olympics.

After relocating to Hawaii in the 1980s, he started a fiberglass business that concentrated on powerboat repair and customizing. He later turned his attention to paddle-driven craft, including original Sea Horse, Stealth, and Cuda kayaks.

Inspired by Polynesian style craft commonly used in the Pacific, Karel focused his attention on outrigger canoes in 1991, forming the company Outrigger Connection.

Under Karel’s direction, Outrigger Connection was the first company to incorporate aerospace technology into paddle craft design. Today’s lightweight Kevlar, graphite, and epoxy resin canoes and kayaks can be traced back to his company.

Outrigger Connection introduced designs that found their way into other paddle sports. This includes the foot well scuppers and molded seats used widely in plastic sit-on-top kayaks that are produced worldwide for recreational touring, and the once rare and now burgeoning sport of kayak angling.

Karel Tresnak’s influence on modern paddlesport did not end with design. His son, Karel Jr., set a record when he won the grueling 32-mile Kawai Channel race (the Molokai Challenge) three years in a row.

Saturday’s races will begin at 8 am in Bonita Cove. Spectators can watch the races from vantage points along Bonita Cove, Vacation Isle, and the Mission Bay Jetty.

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