The Newest Paddles On The Water

Denton Miyamura with an array of his hand-crafted Holomua paddles | Photo from Marla Miyamura

Denton Miyamura with an array of his hand-crafted Holomua paddles | Photo from Marla Miyamura

The now-infamous Furlough Fridays had a major financial impact on many Island families, but for Denton Miyamura of Mililani, the long furlough days provided wife Marla and him an opportunity that would change his life.

“My wife and I work for the state, so on our furlough days we decided to try to do something new, so we learned to stand-up paddle,” says Miyamura. “We rented boards from Wet Feet in Aina Haina and we loved it!”

After several weeks of renting boards and paddles, Miyamura looked into buying paddles to save costs. He was stunned by the sticker price.

“Paddles were like $350 and up and I said, wow, maybe I should make my own,” recalls Miyamura, who is a carpenter by trade and specializes in cabinetry. “So, I made paddles for myself, my wife and two kids. People started noticing my paddles and asked if they could buy them.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

As the years went by, Miyamura made adjustments to his designs and he says, “I got better and better at it, and before I knew it I was getting more custom orders.”

Miyamura was making about five stand-up paddles a month. Then last October, the 53-year-old’s new adventure took another twist when he met some canoe paddlers who asked if he made canoe paddles. Miyamura said, “Why not?”

“Tim Awaya and Wendell Balai (Windward Oahu canoe paddlers) are passionate about the sport and they pointed out the good and bad things with my paddles,” says Miyamura. “I said, ‘let’s do it right,’ and I made changes to the design.”

Besides changes to the design, he knew his paddles needed a name.

“One of my co-workers works for the state Archives and she teaches Hawaiian language,” says Miyamura. “I wanted a Hawaiian name to represent improvement, making progress and moving forward. Without hesitation, she said holomua.”

Shortly after Christmas, Miyamura’s paddles started catching on and orders were pouring in. He went from selling 10 paddles a month to more than 20. His stand-up and single-bend hybrid canoe paddles cost $175; his double-bend and steering paddles cost $200.

“It’s just me alone making them in my garage,” he laughs. “I still work full time for the state (Department of Accounting and General Services), but I enjoy doing woodwork, and this allows me to do so.”

Miyamura is by no means a stranger to the ocean community. In the early 1980s, he was one of the top surfers in the world. Miyamura surfed on the professional surfing tour from 1981 to 1985 and was once ranked seventh in the world.

“With me surfing the tour in the ’80s, I got to meet so many people and visit many exotic places,” he says. “I got to travel around the world, and it helped me a lot to be the person I am now.”

Miyamura admits surfing on the professional tour was not a great way to make a living then, so he set a timeline to get out.

“I wasn’t making that much money, and my mom and dad instilled in me early about having a job and taking care of family,” he says. “I told myself I would stop this career when I turned 25. I did that and got into carpentry.”

Miyamura worked briefly for Town and Country Surf Designs before he got a job with the state. Nearly 20 years later, Miyamura finds himself back in the ocean.

“I want to get closer with the paddling community and be a strong part of it for years to come,” he says. “I’m happy I can make other people happy.”

To learn more about the newest paddles out on the ocean, visit the Holomua Paddles Facebook page. rkmizutani@gmail.com

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