Karel Tresnak and I were having a quiet beer a couple of years ago after the Hammo Cup and he said to me “Colin I’m going to give you a canoe” I thought cool Karel is giving me an OC1, but why? As he carried on I soon realised he meant an OC6 and not just any OC6 – a Mirage! Karel had only two stipulations on this “gift”, he gets to say who paddles it at the Hamilton Cup and all I have to do is get it from Hawaii to Hamilton Island. How hard can that be I thought to myself! From that quiet beer and generous offer was born the idea for Outrigger Connection Australia. Now all I had to do was get the canoe here!
This is where the fun begins, shipping companies use 40 ft containers, the Mirage is 45ft and Hawaii is a domestic port, everything went though Los Angeles back then, very expensive. Karel had the great idea of making the canoe in 3 bolt together pieces to fit into a container. So back to the shipping companies. Still too expensive. Air freight was next and I approached Qantas to see if they would carry the canoe as a sponsorship deal for the Hamilton Cup. No luck, but they did help me out with a contact in Hawaii that could organise air freight to Australia and at a good price, cheaper than that of a new canoe.
I had just had a meeting with Coca-Cola about the Hamilton Cup and it just so happens they wanted a new “Coke Boat” for that years event so I sold them on the Mirage from Hawaii. So I had the freight covered, the canoe was ready, the whole deal just had to be pulled together. I had already asked Peter Corbishley of Whitsunday Fibreglass to build the Mirages for me in Australia so I now asked him if he wanted to come with me to Hawaii to pick it up. We had also talked to Karel about spending some time with him in his factory learning all we could about how he made his canoes.
Peter and I spent 5 days in all learning all Karels secrets before wrapping the 3 piece Mirage and preparing it for for the trip home. Karel had done an awesome job making this canoe, the 3 pieces were joined at the wa’as with a flange on the inside of hull where it was held together with bolts. The joins in the hull are almost hairline. We wrapped the canoe and put it on the trailer leaving the joins exposed so we could unbolt them at the airport. The guys at the freight company couldn’t believe their eyes when we drove up with a 45ft canoe to go to Australia, they were equally amazed and relieved when we unbolted it into 3 pieces, we finished wrapping the ends and carried the pieces inside, signed the paper work and it was on its way!
Using the knowledge we gained in constructing and getting the 3 piece Mirage from Hawaii to Australia, Outrigger Connection Australia has now made and export 2 and 3 piece Mirages canoes around the world. Having a canoe that can be pulled apart and easily transported and then reassembled again at the other end is going to push the ever expanding sport of outrigger canoe paddling further and faster around the world.