New York Outrigger: Growth and Outreach
Ed Acker, President (2006-2011)
2004 was a transition year for NYO. Di Eckerle was elected President as Roger Meyer had stepped down and new leadership took root. Two big news items for that year were: the Liberty Challenge was not held due to the construction of the Hudson River Park and the NYO Men did Catalina and came in 6th in the Bradley division, a very respectable showing.
In 2005 the Liberty Challenge was renamed the Liberty World Outrigger Competition. A new venue was established with the race now launching from the Brooklyn Bridge Park. As the new President of NYO, I was committed to making sure Liberty continued.
The race was very similar as before except it started and ended in Brooklyn. Roger was guiding me along the way as I had no prior experience running a race. The Tahitian team dominated the field and they even produced a video about Liberty that aired on TV in Tahiti and France. It was beginners luck for me as everything fell into place at the last minute and everyone had a good time. The luau was on the Peking Ship next to the South Street Seaport and was outstanding.
NYO participated in a number of ECORA races that season, although less than I would have liked, as many of the men were focused on OC-1 training.
The 2006 Liberty race was very challenging. Thunderstorms and fog took hold and things did not run as smoothly as the previous year. I saw some holes in how the race was being run. If Liberty was going to be a world class race, there needed to be more of a focus on timing and registration. A plan was put into place to address this and a key focus point was to find the right people to own these important tasks.
Up until September 2006, NYO was operating off a floating dock attached to Pier 63 at West 23rd St. As Roger previously noted, John Krevey was our lifeline, but he was temporarily shut down while the park was reconstructed. NYO was out of a home for the first time since the late 1990’s. A new home was soon to be had a few blocks north at West 26th Street.
The Hudson River Park was fulfilling its mission to redevelop the waterfront by building a boathouse in Chelsea at Pier 66 for human powered boats and sailing. The three organizations that shared space at Pier 63: NYO, Manhattan Kayak and New York Kayak Polo formed New York River Sports and successfully bid on the new boathouse. Lucy March and I worked diligently with the other organizations to make the transition to our new boathouse a smooth one. The plan was to transition to the new boathouse in the spring of 2007, but scheduling pushed our move-in date back to the end of July.
While 10 months had passed since NYO left Pier 63, we now had a brand new home where we could start to build our membership and step up our Novice program.
Liberty was a major success in 2007. We were able to overcome our issues from the previous year as Carol Choi, who took over registration and Keith Tsang who was in charge of timing. Di Eckerle was also very involved and many others helped out. Liberty benefited from NYO not racing that year due to not being able to practice. Therefore more members focused on hosting our race.
Team California brought the golden sunshine and dominated the field and a documentary was aired on SNY Network about it. Liberty was now transforming into a race where the workload was not completely on one or two individuals.
As 2008 approached, NYO was starting to grow again and the pace was to accelerate over the next several years. Keith Tsang became the Novice Sessions coordinator and the program grew rapidly. We needed a new OC-6 and bought a Force Five and a Stingray OC-2. Aussies Darryn and Uby, a married couple who recently moved to NYC, started to coach some of the novice members. Two novices, another married couple Jason and Sherry, proved quick studies and their team competed in several races doing very well. NYO was up and coming in ECORA and started to compete in more races. We even started to trailer canoes to races led by the fearless Carol Choi who volunteered to drive the trailer.
More NYO members competed in Liberty and other races in 2008. Brent Beck, our current President, joined that year. Lucy March, Susan Skinner, Tony Hearns, Alice Brown, Emily Harris and Joanne Carlos were other EC members who contributed a great deal of their time and talent to NYO around this time. Also in 2008, the Manu’iwa Men started their four year domination of Liberty.
NYO’s growth continued in 2009 as we exceeded 40 members for the first time since the early days. It now needed some additional structure and Roger Crossland stepped up by organizing the men’s practices. NYO’s men were starting to now field teams in more races than they had in years.
Some of the newer female members such as Emily Harris, Kati McCartney, Stephanie Pratt and Carol Choi became very active competitors and started to elevate the NYO women. We competed in Blackburn and had a record of 30 members race Kent Island. NYO blue shirts were everywhere.
Liberty continued to improve as the race logistics were refined and our luau had an amazing new home on John Krevey’s Pier 66 Maritime. Manu’iwa men won again continuing their reign as champions. More Hawaiian clubs started to come again and the race was again extremely well organized. Times were now posted on our website immediately after the race.
2010 was my last year as NYO President as I became President of ECORA. The club was very stable financially and had many active members who took ownership of its success. Jason and Sherry started the Growth program along with Keith. This was modeled to some degree on what Uby did in 2008 but taken to a whole other level. These practices quickly filled up and became some of our most popular.
Membership had now surpassed 50 and new leaders were beginning to emerge such as Emily Harris, Colin Savage, Lisa Chen and Brent Beck. NYO was becoming more competitive and barely missed out on 3rd place in the ECORA point series. We competed in many races and started to win some.
I wanted to make sure NYO had a leader who could take us to the next level competitively and as an organization. Brent Beck was a natural choice and started to step up as a leader declaring that the NYO men would compete in the Moloka’i Hoe race. This Hawaiian race is considered the Super Bowl of paddling and is very challenging. The 41 mile race is an open ocean crossing between the islands of Moloka’i and Oahu. Under Brent’s leadership, NYO competed and beat the Russian team.
In April of 2011 the torch was passed to Brent who now gets a chance to write some history.
Category: News & Updates