SBD/August 22, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Weekend Plans With WISE's Shelley Taniguchi: Racing Canoes Across The Ocean

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Taniguchi (back) owns Blue FireFly Productions, which counts Nike as a client
A trip to the ocean for many people will have a calming effect. But for SHELLEY TANIGUCHI, who serves as BOD President for the L.A. Chapter of Women In Sports & Events (WISE), the water brings out a competitive edge. Taniguchi grew up racing outrigger canoes in Hawaii, and continues to nurture that passion while living in El Segundo, Calif. It was her own experiences in sports and business that drew Taniguchi to get involved with WISE. She joined the BOD in ’09 and served as Dir of Programming before being elevated to President last year. Taniguchi’s mission with WISE is to empower other women in the industry and provide them with tools to be successful both on a personal and professional level. While she has been busy planning for the first WISE Presidential Summit, to be hosted by the L.A. chapter later this year, Taniguchi always makes time to get out on the water.

BRAND LOYALTY: My day job is my own company called Blue Firefly Productions. I work with both established and emerging brands; most of them are in the sports industry. Nike is one of my largest clients. I work with brands to help them bring to life some of their programming and marketing initiatives through live experiences. My workdays really vary; it depends on the projects I’m working on. This week I’m actually winding down from the U.S. Open of Surfing, so it’s just a lot of close out.

ROW YOUR BOAT: In my spare time I’m a very active and my sport is racing Hawaiian style outrigger canoes throughout Southern California. My club is called Marina Del Ray Outrigger and we are now kind of in the prime of our season. These are long distance races -- they’re about 23 to 36 miles -- in the open ocean. The best teams might finish in maybe two and a half or three hours. It’s called Nine-Man because there are nine people on a team or on a crew. But there are only six seats in an outrigger canoe, so we have an escort boat that carries our spare paddlers and drops them in the water where we do water changers. So the whole idea for Nine-Man is for the paddlers in the water, they enter the boat on the left side of the boat and people who are in the boat and making the changes will jump out on the right. The idea is to do it quickly and seamlessly to not slow down the canoe and keep it moving forward.

OCEANS OF FUN: I’m born and raised in Hawaii, and I came to the mainland for college. I paddled in Hawaiian style canoes when I was a kid but it was more like with family and friends and was never a serious, competitive sport. Today it is. Today outrigger canoeing in Hawaii is a letter sport just like basketball and soccer and volleyball. It wasn’t in my time. So for me when I came up to the mainland getting into outrigger was a way to reconnect with my community and my upbringing. I love the physical aspect of it -- the training, the discipline, the team building. The athleticism that is required for this sport is what I thrive off of.

LIVING THE SALT LIFE: I have a race this weekend in Oceanside, so Friday night is preparation and trying to hydrate and eat well for the race. I’ll try to get to bed by at least 10:00pm. Because the race is down at Oceanside, unless we drive the night before -- which most of us don’t -- it is a 3:30am wakeup time. We’ll carpool down and get there at about 6:00am. Our canoes are transported on trailers, so the canoes actually get brought down on Friday night. As a team we unload the canoes -- each canoe is about 400 pounds -- so we have to unload them and traditionally rig them with rope. Then we find our escort boat and we go to the Steersman meeting. I’m a Steersman and we are responsible for the direction of the boat, motivating your crew, the race course, so all of that. We’ll get on the water by about 8:30am and start the race.

CROSSING THE FINISH LINE: After our race the men will race, and when they come back we do an awards ceremony and often all the clubs that are down there for the race will bar-b-que on the beach or have picnics. It’s really probably the closest thing to being back in Hawaii but still here in California. We’ll hang out there for a few hours, and normally after a race I’d probably end up crashing. But this weekend I will be heading out to a friend’s birthday, who is also a paddler. So there will be a lot more celebration within the paddling community that night.

EASY LIKE SUNDAY MORNING: The best part about Sunday is being able to sleep in. For me, sleeping until 8:00am is a luxury. It’s good to stretch out after a race, so on Sundays I always do Pilates. I’ve been at it for just about a year. It’s an amazing workout and it just opens and stretches you out. There also will be some unrigging of the canoes down by our beach, and usually a bunch of us go to brunch after. Café Buna and 26 Beach both have amazing brunch. Those are actually in the Marina del Rey area and are very close to where we paddle. I love to cook, but the weekends are really about enjoying going out and reconnecting with friends. But I love salads and during the week I make my own fresh salads with homemade dressings. My go-to is a good olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a little bit of honey, a hint of mustard and you have to put in some Sriracha sauce.

BEFORE WE SAY GOODNIGHT: My weekends are when I call my parents. Since I’m not at home in Hawaii, Sundays are the nights that I call my parents and catch up with them about their week. My mom, who is 63, my sister and I just got her an iPad, so she’s learning the joys of technology with FaceTime and Skype. Those are huge for my mom. After we chat I may watch some TV. I’m actually playing catch-up on “HOUSE OF CARDS” right now. It’s addicting. That’s what I’m most recent on, and prior to that was “SCANDAL.”
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