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The Secret Behind Waikoloa’s Sail Structure Revealed

Thousands of local Big Island residents and visitors drive by the unique sale structure at the intersection of Waikoloa Drive and Mamalahoa Highway (a.k.a. the upper road) every day. Like me, most have probably asked, “Interesting structure … but what is it?”

Interesting structure – but what is it?

What is it?

The General Manager of the Waikoloa Village Association, Roger Wehrsig, shared the history as he knows it in September’s “Waikoloa Breeze” newsletter. Roger reports:

“The landmark was built around 1970 in the shape of an old-fashioned canoe sail, representing the ocean and sky.” 

It was further reported that locally known architect Vladimir Ossipoff (1907 – 1998) was the designer of the structure. Ossipoff is remembered for his Frank Lloyd Wright-esque design style of open floor plans that bring in natural light, materials, and ventilation. Notably, Ossipoff was awarded the very first medal of honor of the AIA Hawaii Chapter and whose name is associated with several prominent buildings in North Hawaii, including Davies Memorial Chapel at Hawaii Preparatory Academy.

The Waikoloa sail structure was designed by locally known architect Vladimir Ossipoff

In his newsletter, Roger speaks of a recent meeting with Curt Sanburn whose father, Will Sanburn, played a significant role in the early development of the Waikoloa area. Curt’s perspective on the Waikoloa Sail Structure is:

“Its spectacularly modern yet sensitive adaptation of native Hawaiian forms – the heiau, the lele, the wa’a – is a tribute to Ossipoff’s sensitivity to and understanding of the Hawaiian way of being, of aloha aina.”

Tip

Understanding a little about the history of something can make it come alive. We are so fortunate to live in this special place – and don’t have to look far to find meaning and a sense of place right under our noses.

sunsetwaikoloa

Enjoy 360 degree views of the island from the Waikoloa sail structure

The next time you’re driving past the Waikoloa sail structure, turn onto the small drive and park your car just makai of the structure. There are steps up to and a platform that supports the structure – enjoy 360 degree views of the island and take a moment to give thanks for those native Hawaiian values that the structure represents: places of worship/reflection/mediation (heiau), respect for the land (‘aina), and voyaging (wa’a or canoe).

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Stacy Hasegawa

November 6, 2014

Thanks for posting the background on this structure, very informative. I see it on a regular basis and have never given it much thought.

Kathryn Freitas

November 6, 2014

HI Stacy! Me too — makes me wonder what else I’ve been overlooking 😉 Happy Aloha Friday!

Stacy Hasegawa

November 6, 2014

Thanks for posting the background on this structure, very informative. I see it on a regular basis and have never given it much thought.

Kathryn Freitas

November 6, 2014

HI Stacy! Me too — makes me wonder what else I’ve been overlooking 😉 Happy Aloha Friday!

Derek Stuart

November 7, 2014

Another one for my Mega Campers and island guests.
I have asked and spoke of it as a voyaging canoe sail but this gives more clarity and I believe knowing things slows our hurried lives and gives our own trips and travels meaning and reverence. Mahalo for posting it Kathryn

Kathryn Freitas

November 7, 2014

My pleasure, Derek! Bodie and Jackson have loved their time with you and Mega Camp, especially the overnight camping excursions. Thank YOU for offering a way for kids and visitors to experience the island, hands-on!

Derek Stuart

November 7, 2014

Another one for my Mega Campers and island guests.
I have asked and spoke of it as a voyaging canoe sail but this gives more clarity and I believe knowing things slows our hurried lives and gives our own trips and travels meaning and reverence. Mahalo for posting it Kathryn

Kathryn Freitas

November 7, 2014

My pleasure, Derek! Bodie and Jackson have loved their time with you and Mega Camp, especially the overnight camping excursions. Thank YOU for offering a way for kids and visitors to experience the island, hands-on!

Beth Thoma Robinson R(B)

November 7, 2014

I’ve been completely obsessed with sails since the start of the WorldWide Voyage this year…so glad to know this is a nod to the voyaging tradition!

Kathryn Freitas

November 7, 2014

Mahalo, Beth! Have a great weekend!

Beth Thoma Robinson R(B)

November 7, 2014

I’ve been completely obsessed with sails since the start of the WorldWide Voyage this year…so glad to know this is a nod to the voyaging tradition!

Kathryn Freitas

November 7, 2014

Mahalo, Beth! Have a great weekend!

Laura kinoshita

November 8, 2014

GREAT topic! Never clicked on an article so fast!

Kathryn Freitas

November 8, 2014

Mahalo nui, Laura!

Laura kinoshita

November 8, 2014

GREAT topic! Never clicked on an article so fast!

Kathryn Freitas

November 8, 2014

Mahalo nui, Laura!

Julie Keller, RS

November 12, 2014

I agree with Derek and Beth!!! Next time I drive by (which is often) I will stop, step up to the platform, take a moment of gratitude and soak in the views! Thanks Kathryn!

Kathryn Freitas

November 12, 2014

Mahalo nui, Julie! Having grown up here and with who you are, I know you already have a wonderful appreciation/gratitude for Hawaii Island. How is the new BIC position coming along? So happy for you and the Hilo HL office!

Julie Keller, RS

November 12, 2014

I agree with Derek and Beth!!! Next time I drive by (which is often) I will stop, step up to the platform, take a moment of gratitude and soak in the views! Thanks Kathryn!

Kathryn Freitas

November 12, 2014

Mahalo nui, Julie! Having grown up here and with who you are, I know you already have a wonderful appreciation/gratitude for Hawaii Island. How is the new BIC position coming along? So happy for you and the Hilo HL office!

Julie Keller, R(B)

November 12, 2014

Thank you Kathryn!! New BIC position is great! Our Hilo office is such a wonderful space and I love the opportunity to support our awesome Hilo crew, as well as, learn from them. Thanks for asking.

Julie Keller, R(B)

November 12, 2014

Thank you Kathryn!! New BIC position is great! Our Hilo office is such a wonderful space and I love the opportunity to support our awesome Hilo crew, as well as, learn from them. Thanks for asking.

Kalei F.

November 13, 2014

I remember when it was built, there were stairs connecting the top level to the bottom platform. Was it taken down due to safety reasons or does anybody know why?

Kalei F.

November 13, 2014

I remember when it was built, there were stairs connecting the top level to the bottom platform. Was it taken down due to safety reasons or does anybody know why?

Kulu Moanstaer

November 13, 2014

Wow, having a haole tell us things about this island sounds about right.. Lemme guess you been here for a year and you consider yourself a local right…

Range Nahm-Mijo

November 13, 2014

Great job Living Aloha, brah! You must make your tutu very proud.

J5

November 14, 2014

thats kind of racist don’t you think?

Kulu Moanstaer

November 13, 2014

Wow, having a haole tell us things about this island sounds about right.. Lemme guess you been here for a year and you consider yourself a local right…

Range Nahm-Mijo

November 13, 2014

Great job Living Aloha, brah! You must make your tutu very proud.

J5

November 14, 2014

thats kind of racist don’t you think?

Leslie Ann Bell

November 14, 2014

Someone once mentioned to me that the area was used as the Boise Cascade Sales office when they were selling house lots in the development of Waikoloa Village.

Leslie Ann Bell

November 14, 2014

Someone once mentioned to me that the area was used as the Boise Cascade Sales office when they were selling house lots in the development of Waikoloa Village.

Vinny

November 15, 2014

Did you mean “sail” hehehe. I notice all the time we go hilo side before the new road. I always wondered what it is. I’m always thinking it’s a temple of sort. 😀

Vinny

November 15, 2014

Did you mean “sail” hehehe. I notice all the time we go hilo side before the new road. I always wondered what it is. I’m always thinking it’s a temple of sort. 😀

Jordan Josado

March 1, 2015

Unfortunately some idiots think it’s a good place to dump rubbish. This needs to be dealt with.

Jordan Josado

March 1, 2015

Unfortunately some idiots think it’s a good place to dump rubbish. This needs to be dealt with.

Baron

March 2, 2015

The flat areas of the ‘sail’ also used to have the Waikoloa logo on the North and South sides up to the 1990s.

Kathryn Freitas

March 2, 2015

Interesting, Baron — thanks for posting that!

Kathryn Freitas

March 2, 2015

I hear you, Jordan.

Baron

March 2, 2015

The flat areas of the ‘sail’ also used to have the Waikoloa logo on the North and South sides up to the 1990s.

Kathryn Freitas

March 2, 2015

Interesting, Baron — thanks for posting that!

Kathryn Freitas

March 2, 2015

I hear you, Jordan.

Guy S Kishinami

March 6, 2015

As I recall when it was erected some time in the mid 1960’s before liability concerns are as ridiculous as they are now. You are correct there were stairs and provided a vantage point to view the landscape of the future ” Waikoloa Village ” development . In those days there was no Queen Kaahumanu Highway. The road went as far as Puako . Mauna Kea Beach Resort was the only hotel in the Kohala area and access to Kona Village resort was from the Muaka Kona road down the old donkey trail.

Kathryn Freitas

March 9, 2015

Mahalo for the additional information, Guy!

Guy S Kishinami

March 6, 2015

As I recall when it was erected some time in the mid 1960’s before liability concerns are as ridiculous as they are now. You are correct there were stairs and provided a vantage point to view the landscape of the future ” Waikoloa Village ” development . In those days there was no Queen Kaahumanu Highway. The road went as far as Puako . Mauna Kea Beach Resort was the only hotel in the Kohala area and access to Kona Village resort was from the Muaka Kona road down the old donkey trail.

Kathryn Freitas

March 9, 2015

Mahalo for the additional information, Guy!

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