August 13, 2009

Outrigger Canoes

A few days ago, I mentioned that some members of my Adventure Club and I attended a Dragon Boat & Outrigger Canoe clinic on the Anacostia River. Last week, I wrote about Dragon Boats so I thought I'd cover the Outrigger Canoes (OC) today.

The outrigger is a canoe that has a floating support on one or both sides that helps to keep the boat stable. The canoe that I tried had a single outrigger on the port (left) side, and six seats for the paddlers. Like a Dragon Boat, OC paddling is a full body workout. Unlike the Dragon Boat, only one person sits in a seat so a paddler will alternate paddling on the port or starboard side of the boat; 15 strokes to the left, switch, 15 to the right, switch. That helps because if you're in an OC, you're going to be paddling for a couple of hours.

If Dragon Boat races are sprints then Outrigger Canoe races are marathons; OC races can range upward of 20 miles in the open ocean. Sometimes, in very long races, team members trade off but if you're serious about Outriggers, you have to be prepared for the long haul.

You may be thinking that you're too old to handle an endurance sport like this but you'd be wrong. All of the women and men who lead our clinic were older than me and a several were retired. Looking at OC websites, it's easy to find competitions for people of all ages including 60+.

OC racing is the state sport of Hawaii and popular around the world. If you're interested in Outrigger Canoes as an alternative to an ordinary workout or for the fun of joining a team, check out these sites:

Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing Association

East Coast Outrigger Racing Association

Northern California Outrigger Canoe Association


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