Outrigger Canoe Year In Review
A look back at 2016
As a growing world wide community it seems we go through periods of growth and forward progress coupled with periods of restructuring, let’s look back and see how 2016 checks out.
Note: I consider this post a work in progress, please share in the comment section if you have anything to add.
1) Drama in the Kaiwi Channel
The PAA Kaiwi Solo OC1 Championship is the benchmark skill test for the top OC1 athletes. The 2016 Kaiwi Solo did not disappoint, we had live feeds, commentary, a stacked field and a unusual outcome. Tahiti showed up strong with Kevin Jerusalemy, Damas Ami and Manutea Owen. Kevin and Damas both raced on a Are OC1, which is surprising considering that Tahiti is V1 territory and rarely do we see OC1 come from the region. I received a text that day from a friend “This changes everything”.
I think the Solo shows us who has trained the hardest more than reveal which is the best model OC1, albeit it is a good indicator of what canoes are chosen by the paddlers and team riders.
Although Kevin led the pack, there was fierce competition coming from Puakea hammer Jimmy Austin, Australian super star Travis Grant, local boy Kainoa Toniao and Tahiti talent Manutea Owen. Kevin broke away after Damas took a wave to the head and had to walk off the reef, leaving Travis in chase. The final result delivered a surprise as a 2 minute penalty was issued to Kevin. Costing him the first place position and Travis Grant taking the honors. Wake riding was the sited offense, turns out these rules have teeth. Kevin made a gracious statement accepting the decision and congratulating Travis on his win.
“..The penalty is hard because I’ve done everything to win but I’m glad for my race. It’s not serious we’ll be back next year and we will not commit more mistakes…. Damascus has done a very good race.. at the end of getting too close to the cliff and ended up standing on the reef with vanas full the feet, but he has still finished race third, BRAVO!!!!! A big well done to Travis and all the paddlers for their performance. Until next year!!!” ~Kevin J
Another point to note was the proximity of the top 15 paddlers. From Tahiti to Hawaii, California to Australia, the group was tight. To me this shows a more level playing field among the individual athletes compared to the gaps we see in OC6, although one could argue that the Tahitians are slightly handicapped on the OC1 (compared to V1), with less rudder experience.
|1||4:10:22||Travis Grant||Pueo 2X||Honolulu, Oahu HI & AUS|
|2||4:11:28||Kevin Ceran Jerusalemy||Are Va’a||Punauia, Tahiti|
|3||4:12:03||Damas Ami||Are Va’a||Papeete, Tahiti|
|4||4:12:49||Jimmy Austin||Kahe Kai||Honolulu, Oahu HI|
|5||4:13:44||Kainoa Tanoai||Pueo 2||Kailua-Kona, Big Island HI|
|6||4:15:02||Manutea Owen||Pueo 2||Huahine, TA|
|7||4:15:27||Keakua Kaawa Nolan||Pueo||Kailua Kona, Big Island HI|
|8||4:17:21||Daniel Chun||Ehukai||Kailua kona, Big Island HI|
|9||4:18:06||Mario Mausio||Pueo 2||Kaneohe, Oahu HI|
|10||4:18:57||Kekoa Kau||Pueo 2||Pearl city, Oahu HI|
|11||4:19:38||Bobby Pratt||Ares||Honolulu, Oahu HI|
|12||4:19:59||Will Reichenstein||Ares||Costa mesa, CA USA|
|13||4:21:03||Manny Kulukulualani||Pueo 2||Honolulu, Oahu HI|
|14||4:23:13||Kai Bartlett||Ares||Kula, Maui HI|
|15||4:24:50||Rhys Davies||Pueo||Buddina, AUS|
2) Outrigger Down Under
Australia hosted the IVF World Sprints and honors indigenous and canoe people from around the world. We all find common water with the canoe and this spirit of connection via the Wa’a came through powerfully at the 2016 World IVF.
“One World, One Va’a, connected by water”
On the competitive side of things, New Zealand stepped up their game big time and triumphed over Tahiti. Australia also came out strong in their home turf, followed by Hawaii and Canada as the top 5 medal holders.
World Sprint Medal Count Top 5
- New Zealand
3) We Got Faith
A tragedy in Pailolo almost took the life of beloved Faith Kalei-Imaizumi. The propeller of the escort badly injured Faith while she swam just before the start of the race. This accident renewed our awareness for additional safety precautions to be taken during escorted races. Propeller guards are a small investment by a club and can avoid these tragedies, the more Prop Guards we have on the water -the safer we will be.
The ohana rallied to support Faith and get her the care she needed. First responders, hospital staff and surgeons all rose to her aid. It was moving and inspiring to follow Faiths journey back to health and the outpouring of support from her family and the paddling community.
C = Captain: Check with the Captain before you jump in the water or approach the escort boat
A = Awareness: Maintain your situational Awareness during water changes
N = Neutral. The propeller should be in neutral during changes.
“Most important is having good communication with your captain. Always check with your captain before doing anything! Always maintain situational awareness! Is the boat in neutral? CAN or no CAN?” ~Lee Moyers, Positive Mind
4) Red Bull Wa’a Charges On The Scene
A big brand signing on a local canoe team is exciting. Red Bull Wa’a came out with an impressive video and marketing and took news feeds by storm. The team is comprised of Daniel Chun, Ikaika Huaoanio, Kainoa Tanoai, Kekua Nolan, Trey Cox and more.
The team has placed well at the international level while dominating the local Big Island races. Placing 5th in Molokai Hoe behind Team Primo. 2nd at the Catalina Crossing and 10th place in Hawaiki Nui Va’a which is a big deal for an outsider team.
A video released from a former paddler on social media exposed some of the struggles facing the team. While Red Bull is providing some financial support towards equipment, the team is not receiving compensation for their personal expenses and sacrifice. This struggle is common among clubs and teams throughout. Time is money, and until we have the money to buy the time these talented athletes need, we wont see them at their absolute best. We are building our sport, the future is bright, but we have a long way to go yet.
5) Canoe Clubs and Hui’s Invest in the youth
Alaka’i, associations, veterans and mentors turn their focus on the youth in 2016. Hui Nalu invested in a fleet of OC1 and OC6 Unlimited canoes for their youth program, supported by Alan Pfluegar and Pacific Honda. Together with clubs such as Hawaiian Canoe Club, Elks Kumulokahi, Hui Nalu, Kailua Canoe Club, NAC, Seattle Outrigger and Rikkole Cree we are seeing a renewed commitment to youth programs.
The leadership in associations such as MPH, MCHCA, HCRA, OHCRA, SCORA, NORCO, EOCRA and seeing the importance of finding answers to address the concerns and limiting beliefs. Youth divisions in distance races, small boat races and channel crossings are now becoming common place. Young paddlers are seeing opportunity to pursue paddling beyond sprints.
This year seemed to be one of turning inward and shining light into what value we have in our local hui’s and clubs. The importance of teaching our young guns and up’n’comers is not to be taken lightly, as the saying goes they are the future. There is a growing consensus that we need to put feet to this vision and develop mentor programs that can be shared with the world wide outrigger community. The pyramid of learning requires both students and teachers, and thankfully we are starting to see more leaders emerge.
The Moku Manu Hoe Wa’a was organized by Kanaka Ikaika and exemplified this vision. Bringing veteran paddlers and young paddlers together to compete in a long distance unlimited race.
Closer to home Ozone Founder Mike Giblin and Kai Wa’a owner Kai Bartlett teamed up to give their daughters Keala Giblin and Lea Bartlett an experience they will never forget. Together they competed in the Maui To Molokai Canoe Race on the Tempest OC2 and recorded the experience for all to see.
6) Give Me Liberty Challenge
New York showed us once again that you don’t need to be in the tropics to have a kick ass canoe race. The Liberty Challenge shined as one to remember with more then 10 countries represented and over 500 paddlers strong. To our dismay New York Outrigger later announced the permit had been terminated for 2017 due to construction in the area, we are waiting to find out what comes next and hoping for it’s return.
“New York Outrigger is suspending the Hawaiian Airlines #LibertyChallenge for next year, as our current location is slated for construction in 2017. NYO will work with city agencies over the coming year to identify a new venue that allows the Liberty Challenge to continue growing.”
Noteworthy is that a number of important events were sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines in 2016. From Molokai Hoe to Na Wahine O Ke Kai, Liberty Challenge and IVF World Sprints. Who is this person we can thank behind the scenes helping to make this happen? MAHALO for your support. What goes around comes around!
7) New OC1 Canoe Models Released
2016 produced a number of new canoe models for us to try or upgrade to. Kai came out with the Ares, a reduced volume version of the Antares. The Ares is leaving tan lines on the faces of smiling paddlers who swear by her performance. Meanwhile John Puakea went in the other direction, with a larger volume canoe the Kahe Kai, debuted the day of the Kaiwi OC1 Soloi. Which has some very intriguing adaptations and is flying off the racks with paddlers of many sizes loving the new canoe.
The Pueo also saw some changes as Kamanu breaks out of the one size fits all approach with different varieties to their canoe model, the Pueo 2 and the Pueo 2x.
“The ares is Kai’s greatest creation to date. The canoe has a low volume design, but doesn’t lack in large open ocean swells. Also able to maintain a high rate of speed in the flat. I ride this canoe based on it’s effortless control and how comfortable the redesigned cockpit is.”
“..in simple terms. It’s very comfortable. Has the best high end speed I’ve ever seen capable on and oc1. Surfs amazing. And carries from bump to bump where normally I’d have to chase to get it catches with ease. It just wants to go forever. Effortlessly.”
The Ozone ProModel Lightens it up
In addition to the new OC1 models, ozone quietly went to work on an off the menu ProModel for Team Riders. This is not a model change but a inside-out approach to performance improvement. The project was designed by Brian Dalbey who is the Production Manager at Ozone and has been responsible for much of the technology improvements at the factory. Bottom line is this, the canoe is not for your everyday paddler. It is configured for elite competitors or those who are looking for the performance edge that these improvements bring. The ProModel is available for the Kahe Kai, Antares, Ehukai and Ares.
“I am totally blown away with the Ares ProModel from Ozone. It’s lighter than what’s ever been imaginable and still maintains the same strength as a normal layup. The performance is superb, in all conditions. In the past I have been set on paddling something I’ve personally built for myself because of me putting my own love into it but this ProModel has changed that. I’m sold on it and that is what I now have for my personal canoe.”
8) Tahitian Stroke Is Broken Down -For Real
This year we also had a breakthrough in technique understanding and communication. Lets face it, is it not easy to understand nuance and mechanics in paddling stroke, it can take years to get it right. Now try to make fundamental changes and question what was once proven theory. It can be a headache to get straight.
Here is the take away from what I see. Imagine you are in skyscraper and you need to get to the top floor, there are regular elevators that will stop on each floor in a segment and then there are express elevators that will only take you to a new segment or group of floors. In this metaphor we might need to do go down a few floors in order to find the express elevator to take us to the next segment, or all the way to the top. Loosing confidence in your stroke might happen, as you initially lose the speed developed by muscle memory. Having trust that the technique will pay off will lead you to new levels of understanding and hopefully overall speed and efficiency.
John Puakea breaks it down in this video. He has even gone as far as holding technique clinics for clubs and events to further teach this concept. Clubs such as Hui Nalu and Hawaiian Canoe Club have completely revamped their style of technique training thanks to Johnny teaching.
9) Florida Represents
Jean Raas decided it was time for outrigger canoe paddling to have a premier event in Florida and set out to make it happen. This year was the 2nd annual Clearwater Beach Classic and it was a hit among paddlers in Florida and those who made the trek from all over the eastern seaboard. Offering clinics from Kai Bartlett and John Puakea paddlers could learn from the best, compete and celebrate. CWBC is sure to be another one to consider putting in your race calendar.
“We are excited to announce that we have locked in for next years event to be held on September 30th and October 1st, 2017. Stay tuned for updates on Paddle Guru and Facebook so that you can get the early registration discount for next year. We look forward to seeing you again in 2017!!” ~Jean Raas
10) Bobby Pratt and Kai Bartlett show the world the Auau Channel
Not only a great channel with perfect lined up rides, but some of the best footage of OC1 open ocean surfing you can watch.