The USP Marshall Island campus recently began hosting the Majuro Ocean Sports Club (MOSC) at campus. MOSC is a new NGO that was incorporated in 2019 with funding from a USD 75,000 grant from the NZ Embassy in Hawaii called the North Pacific Development Fund. MOSC received four 6-person, two 1-person and one 3-person New Zealand-crafted paddling outrigger canoes which were delivered to the RMI campus on 10 October 2020.
The MOSC held the official launch and blessing of the outrigger canoes on 07 November 2020, which was attended by over 50 people, on 07 November 2020 at the USP Marshall Islands lagoon side campus in Long Island, Majuro. Waan Aelon in Majel (WAM – Canoes of Marshall Islands) Director Alson Kelen performed the traditional Marshallese blessing of the canoes, a ceremony that includes the cutting of the symbolic “umbilical cord” with an adze. Over the next few hours after a chat about safety, dozens of people tried their hand at paddling with much laughter and smiles being shared.
“The ambience was so positive and everyone was really excited to be there for the Launch and Paddling” Club Captain Larry Hernandez said. “It was a perfect day: overcast and just a light breeze making the water very calm”.
MOSC’s next events will be a series of Captain’s Clinics at USP. Club President Grant Bilyard said the plan is to train people to be captains. “These people will then be able to take the canoes out and help form teams”. “Our goal is for them to be comfortable about being in control and also for them to have the skills for everyone to be safe” added Club Captain Larry Hernandez, who competed on his Hawaiian high school’s paddling team starting at age 15.
The plan is to start the use of the canoes at the University level with teams from USP and the College of Marshall Islands (CMI) and as the club develops provide opportunities for other organizations and youths to learn the skills and enjoy paddling. In the longer term, MOSC wants to include swimming, water safety, stand-up paddling and surfing in the club’s activities.