Outrigger canoe club focuses on giving back to community

By Phil Dailey

Most San Diegans are well aware of the many different ways to enjoy the ocean. But when it comes to outrigger canoe paddling, it’s a water sport with a devoted niche that has yet to gain steam in the mainstream like kayaking or surfing.

If David Bucsit has it his way, that will all change.

Bucsit is the founder of Kapolioka’ehukai (Heart of the Sea) Outrigger Canoe Club, an organization that’s mission statement is two-fold. Not only does he want to raise awareness of the Pacific Islander culture, he also wants his club to represent something more.

“We have been trying to promote our club within the Pacific Islander community, but not only that, we’re trying to get everyone involved because the mission of our club is environment awareness and cancer research awareness,” said Bucsit, who is also in his 11th year as a police officer with the city of San Diego.

The club’s name is in honor of the late Rell Kapolioka’ehukai Sunn, a surfing and outrigger canoe pioneer who gave back to the community by helping troubled youth learn about the water sports in Hawaii. She died of breast cancer in 1998.

“She was just the ultimate waterwomen and we are just trying to emulate her and what she did,” Bucsit said. “not only in the water but in the community.”

The club’s first major fundraising event is in honor of Rell, which will include a movie screening of the documentary “Heart of the Sea.” The event will take place at the Arterra Outdoor Lounge at the Del Mar Marriott (11966 El Camino Real) on Aug. 27.

“Those people who don’t know who she was will gain a great deal of knowledge of who she was and what she did for her community.”

Proceeds for the event go to the Rell Sunn Educational Fund for cancer research and education.

After the fundraising event, the club will focus on the fall and winter race seasons for outrigger canoe and stand-up paddling events.

“We will be competing with clubs all up and down the state,” Bucsit said.

n For more information on Kapolioka’ehukai Outrigger Canoe Club, visit