One of the benefits of Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddling is the minimal amount of equipment necessary to participate. Outside of the canoe, the only equipment essential to paddling is the paddle itself (also known as a “blade”). The make and size of the paddle is very important to the training of all paddlers; each paddler will require a paddle that matches their body and strength to allow for full potential. New paddlers should check with their coaches to determine the appropriate make and size of a paddle. As paddling season gets underway, stores that carry paddles stock up for the rush, so work with your coach as early as possible to learn what you will need. It may become difficult to find a paddle that fits you if you wait too long. The good news is that many companies that manufacture paddles have websites and will take individual orders. Most paddles run between $70.00-$150.00. Paddlers who take on the role of steerspeople will require a special steering blade.
The Swimming Thing…
Because outrigger canoe paddling is a water sport, it is imperative that you know how to swim. There is always the chance that your canoe will flip over (huli) during practice or a race, and your coach and fellow paddlers need to feel comfortable that you can take care of yourself if that happens. You should not feel embarrassed if you cannot swim – but it is critical that your coach knows if you cannot. This is for your own protection and the protection of your crew. Learning what to do when you huli will be a part of your training. Each paddler has a certain responsibility if the canoe goes over, and as in paddling, the better you work together as a team, the faster the job goes and you can be back on your way more quickly! [Top]
Courtesy and respect for every team member is essential and expected from Lanikai Canoe Club. It takes an entire team working harmoniously in practice sessions and races to cross a finish line in first place. That courtesy and respect is also expected towards teams of other canoe clubs. Sportsmanship and healthy competition is welcomed – unsportsman-like behavior will not be tolerated. Crews have been disqualified in races for unbecoming behavior (i.e. swearing, unsportsman-like comments). While each individual canoe can only seat six paddlers, every member of the team plays an important and vital role to the success of a crew, six paddlers in the canoe all working in unison. Each seat in the canoe requires certain talents and needs from a paddler, and each seat comes with its own sets of challenges and responsibilities. Each paddler from seat number 1-5, paddles alternately on the opposite side from each other. Seats 1 and 2 – Seat 1 (also known as a “stroker”) sits in the very front seat of the canoe. Seats 1 and 2 are primarily concerned with ensuring the rhythm and pace of the paddle strokes, which Seats 3-5 five follow. They paddle on opposite sides and as such neither has a paddle to follow. A good stroker should be able to adjust the stroke depending on the length of a race or to allow for variable water and wind conditions. Seat 2 must follow in perfect time, mirroring the stroke pace so as the power distribution remains equal and synchronized down the length of the canoe. When rounding markers, Seats 1 and 2 work together to turn the front of the canoe. Depending on the crew, either Seat 2 or 3 calls the changes, which mark the paddlers changing the side of the canoe on which they paddle. Seats 3 & 4 – Often referred to as Power Seats, the heavier, stronger paddlers will generally take these positions. It is their primary task to provide the brute power required to push the canoe along. Number four seat generally takes responsibility for ensuring the canoe remains as dry as possible, bailing when needs be. Seat 5 – Seat 5 is also a power seat but also needs to have knowledge of steering to assist the steersperson when necessary. They are also referred to as the keeper of the ama. This entails that they must eyeball the ama (the outer float) to make sure it is stable. If it looks at any time to be lifting threatening a huli, they must quickly react to save it. Failing this, Seats 3 and 4 need to recognize the predicament and also try to save the canoe from going over. Seat 5 must also take responsibility for bailing if required should there be an excess of water in the canoe. Seat 6 – The steersperson, who is ideally the captain of the canoe, calls the shots, motivates the crew and sets the canoe up for the best coarse and catching the swells. They plan and navigate a course and have a big responsibility during sprint races, where they must set the canoe up for a good turn around the buoys. They need to have a good paddling relationship with Seat 5 in protecting the ama and indeed with all the crew. Steering a 40ft plus canoe on the open ocean in rough water is an art form. Those that learn their trade well can be considered masters of a task, which requires intimate understanding of the dynamics of the ocean and the nuances of the canoe and crew. [Top]
At the beginning of the season your coach will advise you what days and times your crew will be practicing. Until the races begin, you can anticipate practicing 3-4 times each week. Once races start, practices are normally scheduled 3 days a week with a race on the weekend. Weekday practices are held in the afternoon; weekend practices will be determined by the individual coaches. It is each paddler’s responsibility to attend practices, to be on time for practice, and to have your paddle with you. You may wish to bring water and a jacket, which will help you stay warm following practice.
A large round of applause to coaches, who selflessly volunteer their time and talent to the paddlers of Lanikai Canoe Club. This is an enormous undertaking that often takes away from a coach’s own paddling time. While there are standards in technique that Lanikai Canoe Club adheres to, as in every sport, each coach has their own style of coaching. If you have any questions about your crew’s training, please feel free to discuss it with your coach or with the Head Coach. Coaches face the difficult decision each race day of determining which six paddlers will be selected to participate in the race. Understand that coaches struggle to find a balance of what will provide successful racing results for Lanikai Canoe Club (as a competitive club) as well as give as many paddlers as possible a chance to compete in a race. In many cases, it takes years for paddlers to find themselves at a competitive level. Many new paddlers will find that they may not be chosen for crew on the day of a race. We encourage paddlers to not be discouraged, but to continue the sport. Sometimes you’ll find that that one extra season is a difference in making crew on race day. The communication needed between coaches and team members becomes critically important during racing season. Both children and adult divisions can benefit greatly if a parent (in the children’s divisions) or team member (adult divisions) can volunteer to serve as a liaison between the coach and team members. It doesn’t require much time, but can serve to effectively keep everyone “in the loop”. If you are able to assist, please talk to your coach at one of the first practices. [Top]
Before It All Starts
Before the season begins, Lanikai Canoe Club will have a blessing of the canoes and paddlers. We encourage all paddlers and their families to be a part of this special event. A Hawaiian blessing is unique to our islands, and only helps to bind us together as a club.
The initial part of the season is called the regatta season and consists of sprint races that encompass all of the age divisions within Lanikai Canoe Club. Both the children and adult divisions race during the regatta season. Races are held on Sundays at various beaches around O‘ahu. Teams vie for the opportunity to qualify to race in the State competition at the end of the season as well as for the July 4th Waikïkï Race (which is an invitational race based on winning record). Regetta races normally begin the first part of June and conclude in mid-August with the State race. Your coach will advise you prior to each race the time your team is expected to show up at the beach. Regardless of whether you make crew, all paddlers are expected to be at the regatta races to cheer on your team and the canoe club. It’s a great way to get to know other members of the club and spend a day on the beach watching the greatest sport in the world! Lanikai Canoe Club sets up large tents on the beach to give paddlers a shady place to relax during the races. Specific crews will be assigned one race day during the season to assist in putting up or taking down the tents. Please be sure to assist on your scheduled day, so that it becomes a speedy task to accomplish. Our koa canoe will be transported to the beach and needs to be rigged before the races. If your crew is asked to assist with these duties, please be available to do so. If we all work together on race days, everyone can enjoy! [Top]
Long Distance Season
Following the regatta season is what is called the long distance season. This season runs just after the regatta season and through October (culminating in the prestigious Moloka‘i to O‘ahu races for men and women). These races, as the name implies, encompass longer distance races and are for adult divisions only. There are additional dues that are required for the long distance season. The amount will be determined and discussed with paddlers prior to the beginning of the season. Some of the long distance races are “iron” races with a crew of six people that paddle the entire race. Other races require crew changes during the race, and these teams will require anywhere from 9-10 paddlers per crew to allow for these changes. There are many areas of responsibility that are different from the regatta season. Some of the long distance races require escort boats that accompany canoes during the race and carry the additional paddlers and coaching staff. Again, this is a team effort and requires the coordination by all paddlers to ensure a successful season.
On The Beach
A reminder that on the beach at both practice sessions and races, drugs and alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Canoe clubs can jeopardize their standing at the regatta by not heeding these rules. Although man’s best friend, dogs are also prohibited from the beaches. Please abide by the “stay, boy” rule and leave your pets at home.