On a blustery Friday morning before dozens of supporters and curious onlookers, Rocky McKinnon and his watermen buddies set off in Huntington Beach's first outrigger surf canoe program.
With a bit of ceremony that included blowing in a conch shell, McKinnon and three other paddlers took a 1,000-pound, Hawaiian-made surf outrigger out into the choppy waves south of the Huntington Beach Pier.
McKinnon, a professional surfer, surfboard shaper and instructor who has a business in Costa Mesa, is the first to get permission to run such a program in Huntington. The city sectioned off part of the water south of the pier Friday to keep the heavy canoe from getting into entanglements with surfers and bodyboarders.
McKinnon is calling the program Bold As Love, a name taken from a Jimi Hendrix song. McKinnon loves the late musician so much that he named his son Hendrix.
McKinnon hopes the program — which was about 10 years in the making, including getting the custom-made outrigger canoe — will be a positive addition for Huntington Beach. Going out on the canoe is a team effort, with all four riders needing to paddle together, he said.
"This program represents love for the community, my love for the community, love for one another," McKinnon said. "I want to bring everyone together."
"When we have good conditions and it's small, we can have people out who may not have water experience," he said. "They can do something truly special."
McKinnon said the program not only is a first for Huntington but also is unique for California. Riding a surf outrigger is usually done only in Hawaii, he added.
"It's an exhilarating ride once you catch a wave," he said. "It can be 1 foot and it's still an amazing experience."