Is outrigger paddling shrinking, maintaining, or growing?

I know the question may seem stupid at face value, but I was wondering if people have noticed a change in overall participationo of the sport. I know the sport is getting more recognition because of the increased coverage, but is it equating to more people wanting to try the sport? I know there is a huge rise with the individual disciplines such as oc1 and SUP, but have numbers changed much in the last ten years as far as clubs go?

1. In your neck of the woods, are there more or less clubs than in previous years?
2. Have the numbers in your club or the clubs you know of changed?( no need for club names)
3. Future predictions for the sport if current trends continue.
4. What changes are needed, if any, for the sport to get to the next level. (professional)

I know there are a few questions to ponder, but I thought I'd create some healthy dialogue on here. I'd especially like to hear from the international paddlers.

Aloha Friday Kanakas

Submitted by 808.2.619 paddler on Fri, 01/13/2012 - 7:59am

Out here in Cali. the sport is not doing well at all. You go to the races and all you see are older people that have been paddling for years and years. I see very few novice stick around more then a year or 2. I have done a few dragon boat races the past 2 years and you see so many young people in that sport. In fact the majority are young. We need to take a look at what they are doing. I think popularity of SUP and OC-1s has hurt the 6 man races. Now people can paddle and race on their own and don't have to deal with all the politics. I know quite a few very good paddlers that now just race SUP and OC1 becasue they don't want to deal with club politics. These are guys that could be on crews that could come in the top 10. It also seems like every time there is a SUP race the same weekend as an OC6 race at least 1/4 of the outrigger paddlers go race SUP. I also look at race results and from one year to the next there are fewer boats entered. I see big clubs here getting smaller and smaller every year as well. I have some ideas about how to keep people in and get others to come back but I just don't think the clubs here are willing try any of them.

#1 Mon, 01/16/2012 - 9:03am

Please share! Who knows, you may have something for all here.

#2 Mon, 01/16/2012 - 12:07pm

That Cali experience sounds more like NorCal, Socal has a vibrant paddling scene going on, while Norcal seems to be dying on the vine. Their races up there are fairly small with less than 50 crews total at a long distance race. That's including Novice divisions. Socal probably has 50 crews in just the novice division.
Seems that Norcal steers away from competition and talks about promoting Ohana. I don't know why they think they are two separate things.

#3 Mon, 01/16/2012 - 10:24pm

I think a 9 man season would help make paddling in Norcal more exciting. The new paddlers don't get to see the dynamics and fun 9 man offers. Unless they go to a Hawaii race or a SCORA race. Traveling crews are few, and take more established paddlers. Hard for a new paddler to break the ranks of an established traveling team.
Personally I didn't get hooked on paddling until I did Catalina. Once I got the bug, I did Catalina again, then did a couple Hawaii races.

#4 Tue, 01/17/2012 - 12:10pm

SoCal is dying too. Maybe not as fast as NorCal but it is.

#5 Wed, 01/18/2012 - 7:25am

9man season is what hooks a lot of paddlers to the sport, but NorCal's water temp doesn't allow for the most pleasant water changes. I'm sure that cutthroat lawyer in the gray suit has a little to do with it as well.

I think it's good that people are expanding to the individual side of the sport. It allows the sport to grow with new manufacturers and builders all putting their best foot forward. I think people are drawn to the OC1/2 and SUP because of the flexibility with time schedules and such. I love going to 6man practice to bullsh*t with the guys, but I also love going out on my OC1 when it's convenient for me. In the end, the individual side of the sport will in no doubt advance the boat design, team performance, and overall enjoyment of paddling in the big boats.

On a different note, I feel the overriding factor as to why outrigger might be dipping a little in Cali is the economy. It takes a lot of money to participate in the sport in California. In Hawaii, you can live on the Windward side of O'ahu and drive twenty miles and be at a race. In Cali, it's not uncommon to drive in excess of 200 miles to make a race. A quick jaunt from San Diego to Santa Barbara is at least 3.5 hours. That's if you're not stuck towing the trailer. I'm not saying it's all bad, because having the freedom to drive up and down the west coast to race is pretty cool. I'm just saying that traveling expenses have a lot to do with the sport here in California.

#6 Wed, 01/18/2012 - 6:44pm

From my perspective SoCal is maintaining it's numbers but have a lot of older paddlers keeping their numbers going. When I look at participation it seems like the entirees are steady. The Oc1 season has a lot of paddlers as well. Novice races still bring in new paddlers which is great but probably need more kids.

Up here in NorCal it's dying on the vine. I believe we have a major disfunction that is like a disease. It's fear of competition. We like to call it "Ohana" but in reality it's fear of getting on the line and racing. It seems like some people feel shame if they race and don't medal. When SoCal just loves to race no matter where they finish. Something I've always admired about their association. I've been racing in the NCOCA for many years and it's been the same story year after year. For years our association leaders touted us as a sprint association but that wasn't true because we couldn't compete with SoCal on any level. It wasn't until Mike Shea graced us with his competitive presence that we learned how to train and compete like the folks down south. He showed us we can do it but you had to get competitive. In addition with the advent of the oc1 we could train as individuals. When our level got better among a few clubs many of the other clubs and paddlers who didn't move up simply retired. This may seem kind of harsh but until we admit our disfunction we will continue our decline.

In addition, over the years we have diluted our base by allowing so many break away clubs. It's been the usual story. Club has a rift and half of the club leaves and starts a new club in the same area. Some people might think there is nothing wrong with that, that it's the same amount of people paddling but in my opinion it undermines the strength and draw of strong clubs. It dilutes the impact and unity of what draws people to belonging to a club. And bottom line is most just fall away because they start something that was weaker then the original effort.

In NorCal we have some of the best paddling waters in all the state. Summertime we get prevailing wind that allows for day after day of downwind training. Flat water of the bay as well as open ocean water on the coast. It really is great paddling water. Yet we can't get new people on the water, particularly kids. Our rowing programs draw tons of kids. Dragon boating is a model all of paddling should follow. Sadly our outrigger programs are dying. I blame the NCOCA for being stuck in it's non competitive rut. It needs to change. We need to toughen our skin and trim the dead weight. Clubs that don't attend regattas and long distant races should simply lose their charter. Efforts need to be made to help clubs tap into community resources like schools and parks and recs throughout the city programs. We need a full on campaign to tap into the resources. We need an environment that promotes healthy competition, that acknowledges programs that are building and rewards clubs that show up to races regardless of how they finish.

#7 Wed, 01/18/2012 - 11:07pm

Need 3-6 man boats that paddle like surfskis.

#8 Wed, 01/18/2012 - 11:39pm

  1. Have the numbers in your club or the clubs you know of changed?( no need for club names)
    -It seems like that the number of participants here in SoCal are gradually increasing. This makes some sense especially at the youth level where school sanctioned sports are so politically corrupt that parents are now looking for alternative sports to enroll their kids in. In wa'a there is a competitiveness on the water that everybody seems to absorb and thrive off of, but yet, we maintain that sense of 'ohana during competition and away from it, and it really is an attractive feature to this sport.
  2. Future predictions for the sport if current trends continue.
    -In my humble opinion, this sport needs to evolve. As the new "unlimited" class of canoe come rolling out, this sport is now looking to be way faster, longer, and possibly more competitive than ever. If the powers that be can wrap their heads around the fact that the Tahitians have been doing things right for so long in letting their brand of va'a evolve without unnecessary rules and regulations, then maybe we can look at evolving and improving our brand of paddling as well. We (California & Hawai'i) have been housed in the Molokai Hoe for the greater part of a decade by the Tahitians, and it really is time to think outside the box and start making strides to enter ourselves back into the competitive arena.
  3. What changes are needed, if any, for the sport to get to the next level. (professional)
    -This was mostly addressed in question #2, but evolving is the key here as well. Spectators typically want to see a racing sport where the competitors are going fast in their craft. I think it was a video of an "unlimited" canoe in the same portion of a race against the traditional Mirage or Bradley (can't exactly remember) but, the way that the unlimited canoe came into the video and literally passed the old style canoe in the span of two waves is exciting! People want to see this. They want to see speed, paddlers flying down the faces of waves, and head to head competition.

I am really excited for the future of wa'a if it is allowed to progress and evolve.

#9 Thu, 01/19/2012 - 4:48am

With unlimited boats costing in upwards of 20+ grand I'm not holding my breath on it making a big impact on numbers here in Northern California. Our basic problem is that we don't attract new paddlers and the older ones don't want to race anymore. The kids are the future. The unlimited boats are faster but it's relative speed. An average knot or two faster still isn't that exciting to me. I want one but that's not our problem at the moment.

Outrigger is a family sport. Once we get more kids involved we will also get their parents because there are events for every age. In Hawaii the culture supports the efforts to get kids involved. It's a living sport there. It's part of the history. It's the number one family activity. I'm sure in Tahiti it's even more a part of the culture. In California we compete with many other activities and the culture isn't there. In SoCal you're on the beach, it's sunny and the spirit of Hawaii is what attracts paddlers to the sport. Up here in NorCal it can be cold. We don't have that beach culture that identifies with Hawaii. A lot of our paddlers are transplants from Hawaii. Many who never paddled back home but now want to reconnect with "local" people. They get caught up in the politics of forming good crews and get bummed out when it doesn't go their way or worse get their doors blown in races because they didn't realize how much training is involved in finishing near the top.

I'm proposing we figure out how to reach the communities of our areas and recruit kids. A universal way of presenting the sport to schools and public recs. A group effort that helps every club equally with media and materials for recruitment. Much of the attraction can come in the way of opening doors to Olympic events like flatwater. Just like rowing attracts kids looking for a collegiant sport, outrigger can appeal to kids looking for olympic avenues as well as just plain old competition.

We need to create a paddling culture here in Norcal unique to Norcal. A lot of it has to do with departing from the "local" mentality. That might seem like a foreign concept to some but the truth is we don't live on the Beach in Sunny Southern California. We are not in Hawaii and most people we are seeking to recruit have no concept of the Hawaiian culture. Many times they are alienated when they start paddling and start to hear words like "haole" and "local". That there is some paradigm they must conform to or they are not doing it right.

I look to Canada and Vancouver who just paddle because it's competitive and fun. They have a thriving paddling culture that paddles everything and in the cold. What's NorCal's excuse. Many here in NorCal seem to think we are guarding some sanctuary of Hawaiian culture but it's pseudo culture and it hurts us more than helps us. Give me athletes and I will give you a crew that beats any "Mana Crew" you got. Sorry gang if that seems harsh but these are the realities of what plagues us in NorCal. I'm running out of old dudes to paddle with and am looking to teach some young bloods how to race. For those of you in NorCal please take this in the spirit of constructive criticism.

#10 Sat, 01/21/2012 - 7:24pm

Ainokea.....maybe canoe manufacturers do and I have great regard for all of them...but if me and some of my friends are able to do down runs and no body else is into it....good. Competition competition one else wants to paddle...fine. Why does the sport have to grow ? Good enough to just enjoy it as it is ! Those who participate....wonderful for us and ainokea about the rest.

#11 Thu, 01/19/2012 - 3:13pm

Poidog you maybe right. I did triathlons for 24 years. That sport started to boom around 1999. Now I cannot stand that sport anymore. The sport has totally lost its soul. Maybe it would be better to just keep things the way they are. It would be really sad for outrigger to loose it's soul too.

#12 Thu, 01/19/2012 - 8:51pm

Poidog, I'm not sure it has to grow as much as not wanting it to die. In my neck of the woods we've got lots of boats stacked up and few paddlers. Like many people around here have lots of years invested into making something of the club I belong to. It's a club thing for sure. I understand your Ainokea attitude. An attitude I don't share but understand it all the same. All the Ainokea's can do their own trips, that's cool. Me I'm looking for young bloods wanting to race 6 man. That's fun and why I paddle. That's probably what sparked the question. Not wanting it to die.

#13 Thu, 01/19/2012 - 9:17pm

Things I do know about change.
1. Change can be scary
2. Change in inevitable
3. Change is necessary
4. Change doesn't mean you dishonor and forget what came before

Aloha Friday Kanakas

-Beneath the Pali Lands

#14 Thu, 01/19/2012 - 9:30pm

Well Europe,
we are not shrinking we're dying.
I'm italian and i paddle since 1999. I'm very sorry but our total number is going down and down.
Moreover there are no kids, younger paddler are at least 30 years old.
Our amazing ancient beautiful sport cannot grow here because of many reasons.
First no money at all from sponsors.

I'm looking at SUP world, well here in Italy they are growing really fast in 3 years they already have monthly magazines, 3 dedicated web site, races with money prize.

Just wanted to share my sadness.


#15 Fri, 01/20/2012 - 10:35am

1st thing everyone can do : after your session, let the kids that are on the beach paddle your canoe.

#16 Fri, 01/20/2012 - 12:29pm

It's the invisible hand of a free market. SUP is free of rules and regs, one man canoes are free, surf ski's are free, all these examples seem to be growing. 6 man guys do nothing but complain about how that sport is shrinking. It's like when Cuba and other non-free market countries blame Uncle Sam for their problems. It's not SUP's or one man fault, it's not that people can train on their solo crafts whenever. The simple fact is that the free market that solo crafts play under, allows it to create an experience the the the people want. 6 man stuck in the wake of all their design controls for the sake of it being fair for everyone. When I bought Kapa'a, it was like escaping Cuba. Damn it felt good!! Good luck with your rules and "history", that's all you'll end up having after a while.

I love my team hate the 400lb fishing boat.

#17 Fri, 01/20/2012 - 2:54pm

Here in the frozen north (actually the soggy north for those of us in Vancouver), outrigger seems to be doing okay. My impression is that there's a lot of cross-over from dragon boat to outrigger. Just about everyone I know paddling outrigger started out racing in dragon boats. Dragon boat racing has seen a bit of a decline in recent years and sponsorship money has all but disappeared but it is still very popular.

FCRCC has been at the forefront of "multidisciplinary paddling" for many years, with strong dragon boat and outrigger programs. All the aspiring dragon boat paddlers cross-train in outrigger. Some get bitten by the bug and decide they like long distance outrigger racing better than 500 metre dragon boat races. IIRC, 5 of the 7 Vancouver area paddling clubs/facilities have both outrigger canoes and dragon boats.

So if you're looking to bring more people to outrigger in North America, my suggestion is to start a dragon boat team.

#18 Sat, 01/21/2012 - 11:41am

Here in HAwaii OC6 club paddling seems as strong. Regattas can be fun, the kids are involved, the club spirit is the key to a club growing or not. As soon as it gets too serious and a club forms an elite group, then the rest of the people who often do most of the volunteer work lose interest. The club leaders need to make sure it stays fun-fun is why majority of the people participate. Often when distance season starts and there is so much emphasis on Molokai,the rest of the membership is not involved. So I think we need to make it fun, keep it fun to keep it growing. On the mainland and international maybe that is why Dragon boats have good participation- it is a great, fun social event. MAny new clubs start with a great spirit, great parties good growth due to the fun and then once the parties start diminishing, people leading the club start getting too serious and the paddletics get going, the membership diminishes. Thats my take on it.

#19 Sun, 01/22/2012 - 7:29am

Clubs have to decide what's important, and come to the realization that keeping together active, cohesive club calls for some collective sacrifices.

In our association, I can think of one club that had a very active, winning OC-6 program for several years straight, but suddenly found that its highly competitive team fell apart when several key paddlers moved on to other things. People lose their jobs, get married, get divorced, have children, etc. etc. They got complacent. It is easy to stick with the tried and true paddle pros, but someday those pros are going to drift away. Rule 1: no team stays together for ever. You need to keep putting money in the bank every year, i'.e, recruiting and training OC-6 paddlers. Newbies come in through the OC-6 program. Paddling is not for everyone, but OC6 allows people to get a flavor and join or quit. You need to have an organized paddling program. You need to have some pushy people with agendas. You need to have scheduled practices. Rule 2: The OC-6 is the heart of the club. Ignore it and the club dies. Sure you can have OC-1 and SUP paddlers, but they are dessert. not meat and potatoes. With an OC-6, you need an expensive boat, beach access, and leadership. That's a curse, but it is also a benefit. You have sobering economic responsibiilty, a place to gather, an incessant need for interclub communication, and a vital need for leadership and organization.

This same club decided an OC-1 paddling program was a better idea. Everyone could paddle on their own and if you needed paddlers for an OC-6 race, you could just slap a team together. The trouble was OC-1 paddling calls for significant economic outlay by the individual. Only a small number of paddlers are going to shell out $3.5K for a boat if they've never done any outrigger paddling in an OC-6. They instantly narrowed their base. Moreover OC-1 paddling provides little incentive for club membership. With an OC-1 you can practice on your own. You don't need other people. Rule 3: Exclusive OC-1 paddling won't keep a club afloat.

After a few years, this club got into SUP in a big way, but its downward spiral continued. I may be wrong, but you can't go as far and as fast and must be cautious in you selection of paddling waters with an SUP, so a club narrrows its options even further. And again, with an SUP you don't need other people. (Rule 4: Exclusive SUP paddling won't keep a club afloat either).

Simply put, the OC-6 is at the core. You must have a machine that keeps pushing paddliers in seats and making them go out in the boat. Lots of newbies will fall by the wayside, but the survivors will have the commitment to stick. If a newbie is after your seat, you aren't going to miss any practices.

#20 Sun, 01/22/2012 - 10:43am

Great post Yankee

#21 Mon, 01/23/2012 - 4:16am

As a whole the outrigger sport seems to be growing and in turn, changing shape. The growth of fun fast and available single crafts means people have access to the water on their own schedule. OC6 practices require paddlers to keep a uniform practice times.

Because of the ridged OC6 schedule I have noticed membership in clubs and participation in races ebbs and flows from year to year. As Yankee said paddlers have life changes creating road blocks to participating in OC6.

So how do we keep participation in OC6 growing....

#22 Wed, 01/25/2012 - 7:51am

6men canto Help over here (europe) canoes are too expensive, hard to find and buy, and exept for France it's hard get out 6 Paddlers to paddle the canoe.
What i guess and this is just my personal opinion is hard to share Paddlers between dragon boat and OC, it will be line sharing bikers between mountain bikers and holliday bikers...personal opinion.
So what to do?
Again personal opinion...beautiful races, some money from sponsors, personal willness to make the sport grow.
At the same time se need to share Paddlers with SUP and se oc Paddlers have to Try SuP.
Morever we to spread all the aloha spirit we understood and be glad to be part of this sport.

#23 Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:36am

It would be nice to see kids races more often. More of a family event. It would be good all around.

#24 Wed, 01/25/2012 - 2:12pm


Set up a league or conference or association. Set up three or four races in a way that the whole league or conference or association can participate in. Then move heaven and earth to have your club participate and get the other clubs to participate. If you have to give another club a few paddlers so they can particpate, do it. If you have to lend another club a boat for them to participate, do it. You need "critical mass" several times a year. The league members need to want to get together and compete periodically so they can look in the mirror and honestly say, "I'm a real outrigger paddler."

Do two or three years, then repeat expecting about a third turnover in membership yearly.

Do that for four years and you'll find you have grown.

#25 Wed, 01/25/2012 - 5:19pm

Put on a race open to all disciplines - oc, sup, ski, kayak etc with manufacturers displays/demos and watch the interest go through the roof!! Every body on show and keen to show why their sport is better. Win/win for all sides!

#26 Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:45pm

Kumunalu, you seemed to hit it right on the head in regards to some of the issues up in Norcal. I have friends up there that paddle and I always ask why the come all the way down south to race. They point out some of the same things that you state.
It's really too bad, as I've enjoyed racing up there at wavechaser races, but apparently that is falling off on the outrigger side. Looking at results, they seem to be attracting surfskis and sups more that outriggers and I hear the few outriggers that race don't even belong to clubs. Just individuals that have bought canoes.
I'm even more surprised when I hear that club leaders in Norcal tell their paddlers to not participate at the oc1 races for some unknown reason. Wow, that group puts on some of the best races in some of the best conditions here in Cali.
I hear that their focus up north is non competitive paddling events now. Just show up, jump in a canoe and paddle around for the day. Mostly people that are not in shape, but just want to say they did x amount of miles. Whew, I can see the dysfunction that you mention in your posts. That's really a shame. Perhaps it's time for Norcal to find some new leaders, maybe get some young blood that wants to lead the group to higher aspirations.
I would love to come up more often, especially for the V6 races, but it's sort of depressing when you line up and there is only 10 other men's crews on the water. Really a shame. That's part of the reason a lot of the socal guys have stopped going up for the wavechaser races. We come up and it's mostly just us boyz, why go to races when the locals don't even support their own races.
Well, hopefully they take up some of Kumunalu's suggestions and get some energy back into the area.
If you are not involved, perhaps you should step up kumunalu and help lead the way.

#27 Sun, 02/05/2012 - 5:42pm

@ToKo2, There are so many parts to the disfunction up here it's hard to focus on one thing. The main problem seems to be fear of competing as well as a underlining contemptuous spirit for each other. We in the "Hawaiian" community like to say "Aloha" but just don't like to give it when it comes to competing paddlers. Not all but enough. Me included at times.

You know when Wavechaser first got started, OC1 was growing and guys were stoked to compete. Our only hurdle was the poor weather in the winter. Despite the weather things were happening. As a whole, clubs were getting stronger. Now it seams like very few want to train and or race and clubs as a whole are getting weaker. I've had my suspicions as to why Wavechaser participation has dropped, I've always heard rumors that some coaches discouraged their paddlers from racing in Wavechaser events. If true, it lends to my theory that some paddlers just don't like getting on the line to race and/or hold certain people in contempt. I'm sure there are lots of other reasons why things have dropped off but would be more speculation on my part.

I have also heard recently that some are promoting non competitive events in opposition to the traditional race environment. Siting paddle politics as a reason to abandon the race scene. Sadly the NCOCA seems to support such a movement. In a time when race numbers are dwindling, the so called leadership is promoting this. I'm sure it's fun for those involved but I just don't get it. Why the anti-race sentiment? The races are what drive the NCOCA. Without them we lose funding, without funding we don't have insurance. Without insurance there is no Outrigger. Period! I'll gripe just a little bit more, it's like we are a bunch of simpletons who can't look to other associations to see how they are succeeding. For some reason we are too ignorant. My first experience with outrigger racing was in Hawaii so I'm kinda biased but I can't believe some of the things we do up here in NorCal. It's downright embarrassing. I'll give credit to some in the association. They have been working a long time at it and are dedicated well meaning people. But for some reason the NCOCA always gets misdirected by some small faction that wants to keep it at a level that keeps THEM competitive. It's like they don't want the NCOCA to get bigger or better for fear they won't be able to participate at the higher level.

Ok I'll get off my whiner rant. For the moment I hide behind anonymity for good reason. It's time to step up and make a difference. But there are haters that don't want to see certain folks succeed. We need to lead by example up north so myself and some other forward thinking folks are getting involved. If this plan succeeds it's getting shared with every club that wants a piece. This plan is going to give the clubs the resources and marketing materials to be able to tap into communities with ease. But like I've mentioned in previous posts. This plan can't have the fake "I'm a local you stupid haole" mentality. It will turn people off. Paddling in the Bay Area needs a re-branding. With some luck and good people involved, look for new things to start happening in NorCal in the near future. It involves kids and it's going to be good. Two things are going to happen when things start coming together. One, we are going to see a lot more kids at the races and two, those who can't stand to see it happen will probably quit all together. But I hope they don't, I hope they join in and help make the Bay Area a hot bed for competitive paddling. That's my dream and I approve this message.

#28 Mon, 02/06/2012 - 7:47am

that's an interesting perspective from up north. we go up to Avila beach each year, one of the finest events in the state -- but now that you mention it, it is mostly socal crews racing...

all I can add is what makes racing fun for me.

it's the comraderie driven by respect for my teamates who are working hard for me, and in turn I them. respect for those we race against, as much for those behind us as those who are out front. and finally, respect and admiration for the ocean, because the desire to experience all her moods can only enrich what you do.
some of the heartiest conditions can happen at races, wouldn't want to miss out..

#29 Tue, 02/07/2012 - 8:04am

It's time for all property tax paying mainland paddlers to start lobbying and demanding that their high schools include outrigger paddling as a school sport like they do football, basketball, etc.

#30 Tue, 02/07/2012 - 11:46am

Well, to get outrigger canoeing into the school systems would likely require winning a vote. In the Northeast, most taxpayers wouldn't be sure what the sport was about.

Most schools around here have gyms and fields already and a few have pools. So many sports don't add much in the way of incremental expense, simply the cost of a coach and uniforms. The parents are always pushing some new sport that will get Johnny at sports scholarship to Podunk U. Is there any college that offers outrigger canoeing scholarships?

Outrigger canoeing requires the purchase of an expensive boat, a trailer, and water access...all big ticket items. Waterfront property in the Northeast comes at a premium.

Around here, one or two schools out of a hundred have crew. A school that can support crew can easily add outrigger canoeing.

I'd suggest that selling outrigger canoeing to mainland schools would be an uphill battle, but who knows?.

#31 Thu, 02/09/2012 - 4:24am

The growth is all in SUP, which I understand. It's more accessible for most people, and has more applications (surfing, racing, recreational etc.) I don't think the discipline and teamwork required to excel at team outrigger canoe paddling is ever going to have very wide popularity, like rowing. It's just too hard for most people, which is fine. It only appeals to a certain type of person.

#32 Tue, 02/14/2012 - 12:01pm

I'm relatively new to the OC world, so perhaps my two cents can shed some light.
As OC Ken mentioned above, many of the current Vancouver OC paddlers came from the dragonboat community - including myself. After about 8 years of dragonboating, I was looking for something different to compliment - and enhance - my dragonboating abilites. OC seemed like a natural choice. My only regret is that I didn't take up OC sooner. I've been paddling OC for just over a year (more competitively for about about 6 months), and I love it. I'm not a young guy (approaching 40), but seeing some of the 'masters' out here in Vancouver, I feel I've got a few more good decades of paddling ahead of me.
After spending on-water & off-water time with the Men's FCRCC distance OC team, I can say that alot of the guys are quite passionate about OC/Vaa/Waa. I've paddled throughout the winter here - in some nasty condtions (wind, rain, and even some snow), but we always are able to get 3 or 4 OC6s out two or three times a week. There are other teams and other OC clubs in the Vancouver area that can be found on the water throughout the week too. A few weeks back, we had over 90 teams pariticpate in a 5km OC6 race - and this was an event in the winter! (not that winter is really bad in Vancouver, just lotsa rain). Perhaps, it's this passion and dedication that may be missing in growing the OC 'culture'. I was going to use the word 'sport', but OC seems to go beyond that of a sport or recreational activity.

So, how does OC grow? I don't think there's a specific answer, but here are some of my thoughts.
1) As inidcated in other posts, we can look to the SUP culture & marketing for some insight (or can we?). This is a culture & activity that appears to have some similarities to OC & surfing, and it's exploded in recent years. The products are readily available at retailers like REI and MEC (Canada's version of REI). Hell, I even saw a SUP package at Costco the other day. Sea Kayaks can also be found at various retailers.
2) So what sets SUP's growth apart from OC? Again, I don't have a specific answer. The cultures appear to be similar, but produced & marketed quite differently. I cannot confirm this 100%, but I assume that many of the SUP boards & paddles sold are produced in China or other Asian countries - thus keeping costs down, and staying within the realm of the 'average' person. I also assume that most (?) of the OC boats are manufactured in the USA, Canada, Polynesia, etc. Also, the mass manufacturing process is likely much easier for a SUP board vs. an OC. The origin of the boat and time needed produce it result in a higher cost. Also, the clothing manufacturers (Quiksilver, O'Neill, etc) caught on the SUP craze, and started marketing and advertising to them & its culture. Not everyone can ride 30ft waves, but they can sure can paddle around on a SUP & attempt to look 'rad'.
3) Being an all-around gear junkie, it sounds like there are some impressive boats coming out (e.g. the new Pueo, Storm, etc.). I'm sure the changes in technology would appeal to alot of other people as well - whether is be the 'latest' paddle, boat, butt pad, whatever. Change is good. Even something like paint job that 'stands out' could draw the attention of an onlooker and generate an initial interest.
4) Without sounding like a pyramid scheme, there is nothing stopping you from telling your friends and family about OC and it's culture. When I first started OC, it was with some friends on my dragonboat team - and told some others about it (as we were encouraged by our coach to give it a try) - and although they are not on the water as much as I - they still get out and enjoy it. You can get - and keep - really fit, and it can be a social actiivity. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to travel. Being on the water, you get a totally different perspective of your surroundings - whether it's the nearby skyscrapers and snow-capped mountains in March in Vancouver, or wherever you may be - when you're on the water, not much else seems to matter.

#33 Wed, 03/28/2012 - 12:22pm

The comments and perspectives are all good but I don't see any discussion as to the popularity and events on the East Coast. Are OC1's in the North East not really organized and simply a used for recreation instead of ocean kayaking.

#34 Tue, 04/03/2012 - 1:13am

It's also a lot easier to get into a brand new SUP for $1,500 or less. Definitely not the case with an OC1/V1...

#35 Tue, 04/03/2012 - 7:19am

Growing. Mom is 70, joining a dragonboat club in Orlando.

Never paddled before. Already talking about racing dragonboats in Hong Kong!

To Hiro's point of letting kids on the beach get on the canoe, I did that after a run to Kaimana the other day; the smiles told the story. Will do it more often.

#36 Tue, 04/03/2012 - 11:12am

Kileki, very good point. SUP is growing so fast because it's easier for one to get into it mainly because of the cost. Its much more affordable then buying an OC1, although some Race SUP's cost as much as a used OC1, still you need to have some $$$ to get into OC1/2/3. SUP appeals to a large existing market.... surfers, and fittness groupies. Untill you see OC1 manufacturers come down in price and be more competetive.... you wont see a huge increase in "new" paddlers like SUP, just look everyone and their grandma makes SUP's now days.

I'm not a 6 man paddler, I paddle OC1 for fun, I'm not going to win any medals or trophy's or anything like that, I do it for fun really. I would love to try 6 man but some crews halau's are so competitive, I probably wouldn't have a seat in events. that hardcoreness is was doesn't appeal to me and several of my friends who also paddle OC1 for the "FUN" aspect. I do SUP and OC1, I compete on both sides, and I hope no one takes this the wrong way... regatta paddlers, always talking trash about other halau's and what not, OC1... not so much it's well.... more FUN

#37 Tue, 04/03/2012 - 11:47pm

Also, there's such a wide range of SUPs. There's the racing SUPs that are as expensive as OC1s, and there's the costco ones that are 500-800 ( total guess, haven't seen one in a while). The cheap ones may not last very long, are aren't suited to riding big waves, but they're fine for the weekend paddler who's going to use it 2-3 weekends a month. Plus its much easier to transport a SUP than an OC1, and easier to store. There's just a much higher barrier to entry on an OC1 than a SUP.

That being said, I'm not a huge fan of SUPs. They put pressure on exactly the wrong points for my injuries, so being on one is painful.

#38 Wed, 04/04/2012 - 6:02am

Hollow core construction SUP's are in the lower end price range of china built OC-1's. The cheaper the SUP, doesn't necessarily mean the less it will last, that's purely based on how well the owner takes care of their stuff. most SUP's aside from hollow core SIC type of boards are all EPS foam core sandwich/epoxy construction, etc. and can take a beating way more so than an OC1!! tha'ts for sure. As far as transport goes... I dont know about it being easier to transport a SUP, they're heavier, they are less aerodynamic than a OC, ever load and unload a SUP in downwind conditions... pain in the ass compared to OC. although one plus is that you can stack them if you had to. This talk about SUP really is besides the point though.

The fact is SUP probably has taken away some share of the market because of it's beginner appeal is much more affordable than OC that's for sure

#39 Thu, 04/05/2012 - 7:25am

Eventually leading the conversation to the lack of entry stuff for the beginners.
Is it only manageable to build low-cost, shorter, less demanding then our usuals V's and OC's ?
When I look at the Open canoe (That's OC too, confusing !) market, it seems that they do fairly well with all the materials available : from mere molded plastic to kevlar, the price range in the same company can spread from 1 to 5, giving the opportunity to anyone to find his dreamboat.
Of course I'm talking industry logic here, with large investment in molds and ovens. Definitely doable for an existing company, very difficult to do from scratch.
For what it's worth, I'd be the first to buy a clean royalex short OC only for river purpose and "rock bashing" conditions.
I guess rental companies would follow also (I just spoke with one that bought a fleat of platic SUP following the same logic).

#40 Thu, 04/05/2012 - 9:32pm

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