Paddling 101

In its earliest times, the canoe (also called Va’a or Wa’a) was made from trees (usually the Koa) and should still be treated as a living being.  In Polynesian Culture they preserve this by blessing the tree Koa canoes are carved from.  When the canoe first enters the water, there is also a blessing and offering made so that the canoe and paddlers have safe journeys.  Today canoes are molded fiberglass and include OC-1, OC-2, OC-4 and OC-6.

We too have general “rules” or understanding that we would like you to know”
We begin each practice with the Pule (or prayer), as a team we all go to help bring the canoe to the water.
When we call for all hands on the canoe, we would like everyone to help.  We lift the canoe from one end and while supporting the ama, we use a cradle or dolly to support the middle of the canoe (between seat 3 and 4). We take the canoe to the water and again need all hands on the canoe to bring it gently into the water while removing the dolly.

Outrigger terms to know:

The Canoe.  the Hull-Main Body of the canoe, Iako: Curved wooden beam that supports the ama, Ama: is the outrigger. Gunwhales: Va’a rai;s or sides that run from front to back on both sides of the canoe.

Seat 1: Stroker-Keeps the pace, should be equal on both sides and be able to know strokes per minute.  Also informs steersperson if anything is directly in front to avoid collisions

Seat 2:Paddles the opposite side of Seat 1. Must be able to keep pace, timing is critical!! Sometimes calls the “huts” and “hos” at the changes.

Seat 3: Power Seat, follows seat one, Sometimes calls the “huts” and “hos.”

Seat 4: Power Seat, follows seat two, Watches the Ama in rough water.

Seat 5: Power Seat, follows seat 3. Sometimes asked to help the steersperson.

Seat 6: Steersperson – Listen to this person!!!

Entering the canoe: if the canoe is not up against the dock, we will always enter and exit from the ama side.  This helps preventing from huli (or flipping). Also, please step down into the va’a and do not step on the seats when you enter the canoe, as this may damage them.

Bring your water!!! Listen to your steersperson. It is okay to encourage the paddler in front of you or communicate the steersperson’s commands. Stay positive!!! Please refrain from swearing!! Bring your good mana with you into the canoe!

Seats alternate position and change over when the “hut” “hoe” is called.  Usually seat 3 will count strokes to themselves 1, 2….12, 13, Hut, Hoe. Then the seats change to the opposite side. Remember to keep your body centered!

The steersman/coaches will run drills to help new paddlers (and vets!) hone their technical skills and stroke efficiency.

Exiting the canoe: Seats 2 and 4 should lean on the iakos to help stablize the canoe as people exit. If the canoe is beached, exit to the ama side. If the canoe is at a dock, paddlers should exit one seat at a time. Stay with your crew until everyone is out. This is the time for high fives and “great race.”

Huli!!!! If you huli, stay calm! You will be thrown clear of the boat, but come up slowly to the surface and keep your hands above you so you don’t hit your head on the canoe. At the surface, the steersperson will ask you to count off: “Seat 1″, “Seat 2″, etc. Now we must collect paddles and pass them to one person (usually seat 5). Seats 3 and 4 will duck under the canoe, reach over, grab the iakos and pull the canoe over. As they pull, seats 3 and 5 will push the ama up and over. Seat 1 and 6 will hold on the the nose and rear of the canoe. Seats 2 should hold the ama down to prevent another huli. Seat 3 enters the canoe and starts bailing as fast as possible (bail to the ama side!) Seat 5 enters and also bails. Variations of this technique exist and are club dependant. Most critical: to call off, gather paddles and right the canoe safely.

General Rules:

Have Fun, be respectful or the canoe and fellow paddlers!!!!

No bananas in the canoe (believed to be bad luck)

No swearing

Stay positive

6 as 1 attitude!!