1866 - The beginning...
The Royal Canoe Club is understood to be the oldest canoe club in the world. It was formed in 1866 by the famous canoeist John MacGregor and known simply as The Canoe Club . In 1867 the Prince of Wales (later to become Edward VII) became Commodore and in 1873 by command of Queen Victoria the canoe club became the Royal Canoe Club.
The club moved to the current site in 1887 and a wooden structure was erected which was replaced in 2009 by the new building.
1987 - Forming the outrigger canoe section with Hawaiian help
The outrigger section of the club was also the first outrigger club to be formed in the UK. Formed in 1987 when some members went to Hawaii and competed in the Molokai Hoe Outrigger canoe race. Whilst in Hawaii they had met Toots Minvielle the patriarch of Hawaiian outrigger canoe racing. Hearing that they had no outrigger canoes in the UK for training he said they could use his boat. In 1978 Toots had crossed the Channel in Wa’alele, a Malia outrigger canoe to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Captain Cook’s visit to Hawaii and subsequently donated his canoe to the Captain Cook museum in Middlesbrough. He said “you tell them that Toots said you can use it”! And let us use it they did!
In 1988 a mould and then a canoe was made from Toot’s canoe. Named Keiki Wa’alele (Child of the canoe that flies) she was used both at the club and off Brighton beach by our men’s team training for both the 1988 and 1989 Molokai Hoe outrigger canoe race. Over the next few years the club entered races at home and abroad and in 1994 entered a women’s crew in the Na Wahine O Kei Kai (women of the sea) outrigger race.
Since then the club has entered crews in the Great River Race, Poole Harbour Race, Anglesey Sea Race, New York Liberty Challenge, Porquerollaise in France, South American Va'a Championships in Brazil and in 2013 a women’s crew competed again in the Na Wahine O Ke Kai race in Hawaii.