By Ava Wilkinson

Luke Evslin

Luke Evslin. Photo by Andy Bertagnoli

A Pueo parliament is imminent. Parliament as in gathering, Pueo as in OC-1, or one-man outrigger canoe, crafted by Kamanu Composites.

“The faster you go, the more fun paddling gets. So really, the aim of our clinics is simply to make people get the most out of their canoe by helping them go faster,” said Kamanu Composites co-founder Luke Evslin, who will be offering a clinic in early May to prepare paddlers for the Kaua‘i World Challenge May 7-9.

Evslin and two of his long-time buddies opened Kamanu Composites in 2007, manufacturing some of the lightest and fastest outrigger canoes in the world.

Early Hawaiians used outrigger canoes for traveling and fishing, but also for racing and betting. Consequently, racing was banned with the missionary influence in the 1800s, halting racing-canoe development. Championed by Prince Kuhio, of Kaua‘i, outrigger canoe racing made a slow resurgence in the early 1900s.


Luke Evslin. Photo by Andy Bertagnoli

Less than 10 years ago, most of the manufacturing of modern outrigger canoes was done in China. If someone wanted a canoe from Hawai‘i they would have to wait a year. Three young friends knew there was a better way. Kaua‘i High School students, Evslin, Keizo Gates and Kelly Foster, forged a plan to become the world’s best canoe makers. Each went on to college and studied an aspect of the business. Together, they built their Hawai‘i-based canoe company.

Kamanu Composites opened in 2007. Initially focusing on OC-1s, they began producing multiple canoes each week. To ensure quality and consistency, Kamanu capped their manufacturing to five canoes per week. Foster eventually left the partnership to pursue individual goals.

With a few models in production, the Pueo, or owl, is Kamanu’s most versatile canoe. In the company’s plant on O‘ahu, new owners may visit their canoe during each production phase, and even request a custom paint job.