Long distance outrigger canoe paddling events in New York City raised $4,000 USD for hurricane recovery efforts
New York, NY – In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, New York Outrigger – a New York City nonprofit organization that aims to promote access to New York’s waterways through the culture and sport of outrigger canoe paddling – organized two long-distance paddles to raise $4,000 USD for hurricane relief.
The idea was formed as Hurricane Dorian made its way through the Abacos while New York Outrigger was racing at the Queen Lili’uokalani Race, the world’s largest outrigger canoe race in Hawai’i. New York Outrigger quickly mobilized to add fundraising efforts to a 24-mile paddle through the bustling New York Harbor on September 22, then planned a marquee fundraising event with an arduous 30-mile circumnavigation paddle around Manhattan island on October 6.
Kyle Chea, a New York-based Bahamian and one of the organizers of the effort, reflected, “Building on a gold and bronze medal at Queen Lili’uokalani and capturing the US Outrigger Championship title at the Catalina Crossing for co-ed open crews in our boat class, we wanted to do something really special to raise both awareness and aid for Bahamians who are still struggling to readjust, as well as those helping them on a daily basis.”
Julie Rwan, President of New York Outrigger, commented, “Our community of paddlers in New York City are honored to share aloha with communities in The Bahamas most impacted by Hurricane Dorian. We know the power of water and wind, both as devastating and nurturing forces. And we hope that the funds raised through our long-distance paddles increase worldwide awareness of the hurricane recovery efforts as well as the incredible resiliency of the people of The Bahamas.”
Jeanne Chun, Vice President of NYO says, “The circumnavigation shows why NYO is so special to me because it really takes an entire community to make an event like this happen. We’re not just a racing club, we are a big family that comes together through the shared Hawaiian spirit of Aloha.”
New York Outrigger trains primarily on the Hudson River, making the circumnavigation through all of Manhattan’s waterways a special occasion. Two seasoned crews of twelve paddlers – six to a canoe – battled tides, wind, and a multitude of ferries to complete the trek in just under six hours. The crews headed south from their boathouse in Hudson River Park, past the World Trade Center in the financial district before turning north along the East River. After passing the United Nations headquarters, it was a steady journey north with a break where the Harlem River met the Hudson at the island’s northernmost point. From there, it was a ten-mile paddle home against wind and tide.
Though Hurricane Dorian headlines are less frequent in American media, New York Outrigger is doing its part to ensure that recovery efforts are not forgotten. All funds raised will go to supporting the efforts of IDEA Relief, the New Providence Community Church, HeadKnowles, and the Bahamas Hurricane Relief Fund.
Chea says, “Outrigger canoes were developed for long-distance travel across the Pacific thousands of years ago. Modern outrigger racing culture brings people from all over the world together. It’s the perfect metaphor for my Bahamian brothers and sisters from Grand Bahama and the Abacos that we’re with you through this long journey of recovery.”