The Macfarlane family, including from left to right, Walter Guild, Di Guild, Robert "Rab" Guild, Lissa Guild Eveleth, John Eveleth, Alice Guild, Rici Guild Conger and Tom Conger, are carrying on a tradition.

Macfarlanes carry on
sports tradition

By Cindy Luis

It's an amazing family tradition that embraces a number of sports with equal parts passion and pride.

Mention the name "Macfarlane" and the response is its own mini-Olympics. Sailing, canoe paddling, surfing, basketball, volleyball, polo ... name it and, more than likely, a Macfarlane or a Macfarlane relative with the last name Guild was involved.

The island ties run deep, dating back to 1846, when Harry and Eliza Macfarlane arrived in Honolulu from New Zealand. Their first born, Col. G.W. Macfarlane, was chamberlain to King David Kalakaua and was with the king when he died in San Francisco in 1891.


The sports legacy officially goes back to 1906, when Commodore Clarence W. Macfarlane helped found one of the oldest on-going ocean races in the world, the Transpacific Yacht Race from California to Oahu. Nearly 100 years later, the Hawaii Commodores Association still awards the Macfarlane Trophy for its Yachtsperson of the Year.

Not as old but perhaps more renowned in the islands is the annual Walter J. Macfarlane Regatta, held for the 60th time on July 4 off Waikiki Beach and one of the longest-running canoe races in Hawaii. The Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association's only surf race also honors the former Outrigger Canoe Club president, who died of typhoid at age 36 in 1943.

"As a Macfarlane, I have always been proud to paddle in that regatta," said Di Guild, grandniece of "Walter Mac." "It always meant a lot to me. There's a lot of tradition with our family and that race. This last one, some of my cousins who hadn't been around came down and helped give out awards. It was nice to sit as a family that day, another generation carrying on the tradition."

Guild was one of the first female coaches at Outrigger Canoe Club. Paddling was a family tradition that she got from both the Macfarlanes and Guilds. Her father, Rab Guild, excelled at paddling, surfing, basketball and volleyball.

Her brother, Walter Guild, played football at Hawaii (1978-79) and has been an outstanding waterman for over three decades. He has competed in some 20 Molokai Hoe races, winning 10, as well as becoming a leader and innovator in canoe and kayak manufacturing and promotion.

"My dad and brother and I were the most athletic," said Di Guild, who played volleyball and basketball at Hawaii School for Girls (now La Pietra). "I never had a favorite sport. I couldn't pick one, I loved them all. I wanted to do everything."

One thing of which Guild is proud is her family's tradition of giving back to the community. Her mother, Alice, is the past executive director of the Friends of Iolani Palace and long-time member of the Garden Club of Honolulu.

Grandmother Muriel Macfarlane Flanders -- Walter J. Macfarlane's sister and James Campbell's granddaughter -- is best known for her music and generosity. The philanthropist has endowed a scholarship fund that helps young Hawaii athletes through the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation.

"Being a Macfarlane ... it's a pretty rare name and people recognize it when they hear it," said Lissa Macfarlane Guild-Eveleth, who competed for Punahou in several sports. "It's an honor."

Di and Walter Guild's eldest sister, Rici, was a nationally ranked swimmer in the 1970s.

One of the youngest to carry on the athletic tradition is Milia Macfarlane, a sophomore guard for the Hawaii basketball team. She lettered four years each in basketball and volleyball at Punahou School and captained both Buffanblu teams as a senior.

"I would like to think we're a very humble family," said Macfarlane, who was Miss Hawaii Teen in 2000. "My family is my backbone, but I don't think of our last name as a heavy burden.

"My parents encouraged all activities for my young sisters (Anu, Ilima and Mahina) and I. Basketball, volleyball, soccer, karate, wrestling ... if we had an interest, they made the sacrifices for us to be involved."

Macfarlane credits her father, Walter, for her enthusiasm for sports. She also lists him as her favorite basketball player and most influential person in her life in the Wahine media guide.

"He feels that it's not only character-building, but that it's part learning to interact with others," Milia Macfarlane said. "It's what life is all about."

Walter Macfarlane was hanai-ed (adopted) into the family at birth. A three-sport athlete and 1962 graduate of Punahou, Macfarlane went on to play football at Washington State, and is a current teacher and former coach at his high school alma mater.

"People always asks about the name," he said. "It's a complicated, sensitive story. But I've always been proud of the name. We've been proud to be part of the clan. Milia is carrying on the name and we hope that our younger girls will, too."

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