Tahitian training

Does anyone know any details about the way tahitians train?
Besides of miles, miles, miles

Submitted by cossi on Mon, 05/26/2014 - 6:09am

This question seems to always be asked when our Polynesian brothers from Tahiti come here to participate in races held in Hawaiian waters. What are they doing that makes them so successful in the various races that they are racing in? Many points can be made to answer this question but the simple answer is they were just the better paddler for that day.

Why is it when paddlers like Manny Kulukulualani, Danny Ching, and Jimmy Austin, just to name a few win, we aren't asking the exact same question? For all these top athletes, no matter where they are from, no matter what water craft they are on, and no matter how much more or less they train than others, the simple answer is THEY GET OUT WHAT THEY PUT IN. Hours and hours of physical and mental training go into their training banks and they are able to cash out on race day.

The changes (not the questions/inquiries being asked/made) we should be making if we look at aspiring to be at the top should be towards our own training. What can I do to be better? Look at the guy or gal who you are paddling with or against and start there. To get to the top we must start from the bottom and build a foundation that will help us be successful. In other words, we don't have to go far to get better. Check with our own local top athletes first. What are they doing to be at the top of their game? I believe our own local top athletes are more than willing to share a little about what they do and how they do it. Our own local top athletes deserve the recognition for all their time and effort that they have committed to being at the top of their game.

#1 Mon, 05/26/2014 - 11:19am

I hear what Kaiwi is saying. So I'll phrase the question differently.

My question is what are the top guys (and girls) doing for training. I will never be at the top of the podium. I don't have the natural ability or the innate athleticism that those who crush do. I paddle for the love of the sport, the love of the water, and the shared love among paddlers. That being said, applying what the people at the top of the game are doing to my day to day training is a way for me to get more out of the sport and talk crap to my buddies when I beat them.
Most of us who paddle have their "methods". We have been coached, we have been coaches, we have looked and listened and searched and asked questions. I would like to know a typical two to three week training regimen for guys at the top. I would be super curious to know what the top Tahitians are doing, and I would love to know what Danny, and Jimmy, and Manny, and Kai and as many as the top 20-30 guys are willing to spill to us mere mortals are doing. I would love some specifics. One minute sprints times a hundred? Ladders/pyramids? Just surf runs? Heart rate guided practices? 80% of max times 3 minutes times 20?
Some of our paddle idols are on here...what are you all doing? You don't have to worry. It won't make me as fast as you, but might make me faster than I am now!


#2 Mon, 05/26/2014 - 2:04pm


(minimised from the Shell, EDT programme which I think is a lot more hours), this is a sample week, each week changes depending on race

Mon: 2 hours 70% to 80% cardio (of max heart rate), run up hill afternoon

Tue: 1 hour speed plus gym (double session, AM/PM)

Wed: 2 hours 70% to 80% cardio, run uphill afternoon

Thu: 1 hour explosive plus gym (double session)

Fri: 1 hour if strong do sprints/speed, if tired rest or run

Sat: race or 3.5hours minimum, need to hanlde up to 6 hours in canoe

Sun: rest

this is also very helpful: http://www.surfski.info/getting-started/tips-training/story/1035/oscar-o...

need to work on each weeks programme being different (one hard week, one easy), try a programme of 12 weeks (periodisatio), 5 weeks buildup aerobi, 5 weeks maximum strentth, explosive strength, speed work, 2 weeks taper down

also try google ?olympic kayak endurance? or olympic kayak vo2 max? you?ll get a bunch of extremely well thought out articles on google scholar

(personally i cant run up the hill in the afternoon, however, it might be worth it, Steevy boy has the record for running a hill in Papeete)


#3 Mon, 05/26/2014 - 3:05pm


#4 Mon, 05/26/2014 - 6:23pm

I like the quote but the problem I feel with that is that our understanding of science in this area is constantly evolving.

The training schedule that K presented I do about 1/3 of the paddling portion I am able to do (family and work kine guy). But, the % of what is dedicated to sprints (explosive, and muslcle bldg.) vs the 70% rate I feel is key. It looks like 4 days are dedicated to top speed and two days are 80% kine work. So 80% of your workout days are working on high intensity work. My most technical training equipment is a watch so I know when to leave to pick up baby.

I would like for people to keep this in mind that are training. It takes approximately 14-21 for your body to reap the benefits of whatever training you do. I imagine that's why the Tahitians take 14 day taper, their biggest week ends probably around day 15 before a race.

So I know the guy wanted to hear from top 20 guys. In state race this year I beat Kainoa who finished right behind Kua Nolan in the channel. It was a flat race. Not sure I'd be near him this race but there's an idea about where Id finish.....hopefully.

I think if you read what K wrote and combine that with the link he attached and understand it you will get faster.

#5 Thu, 05/29/2014 - 10:18am

@healthyearth sorry to put you on the spot, But 20 miles is completely different from 32miles upwind.

And if you take the same standings from a costal state championship then there might be some differences in placings.

i.e Kalei the State champ and Travis had a little harder time in the solo, maybe due to conditions or line. I would love to think that I could take a placing from a 20 mile coastal run and just transcribe it to my theoretical Solo placing…But that would be a complete falsity.

Of course hopeful thinking will help you sleep at night, but when you hit the 26 mile mark with the winds only helping hand being to cool you down from the front…there is a Big Big difference.

However Keep up the Healthy thinking, theres always the next Flat upwind channel to enter…I wish you the very best.

Also Didn't Daniel and Kua maybe even Kainoa miss the start of the State Championship?

#6 Thu, 05/29/2014 - 12:08pm

With any hypothetical it's easy to poke holes in it. I was just trying to give the guy an idea, a range. Just trying to help and add some value, which was just adding support to what K had to say. What value did you just add to the guy seeking help?

#7 Thu, 05/29/2014 - 12:34pm

Not trying to poke holes, Just playing the D advocate in this scenario.

I think I added value in the realistic department.

"apples to apples"


#8 Thu, 05/29/2014 - 1:11pm

This might give you some insight in to Tahitian training, be prepared for plenty photos.

#9 Thu, 05/29/2014 - 2:03pm

This might give you a insight into Tahitian training and lifestyle of top paddlers.

#10 Thu, 05/29/2014 - 2:05pm

This might give you some insight into Tahitian training and lifestyle of a top paddler.

#11 Thu, 05/29/2014 - 2:09pm

Very cool Rambo. Thanks, as always!

#12 Thu, 05/29/2014 - 3:48pm

i think healthyearth just took the douche-bag of the year award with this one.


#13 Thu, 05/29/2014 - 5:20pm

I like how Healthyearth thinks and his logic.

In a short course OC1 (5 miles) race in California when Danny Ching was 16-(1999) I was in front of him for first 100 yards.

I am thinking if I did the solo this year, I would have been around 9th place, since in that 5 mile race in 1999 Danny only finished 4 minutes in front of me. Healthyearth can back me up.

Need more proof. In a state champs regatta, my crew was in 6th behind Lanikai heading into final turn, weather conditions were similar to the Molo Solo conditions on Sunday and yes we had some headwind too. There were some top paddlers in the Lanikai crew, but I felt I was stronger than them that day, but we had some bad turns.

Based on these two facts-Healthyearth confirmed that I would have probably gotten 10th in Molosolo this year, if I had bad line maybe 11th.

#14 Fri, 05/30/2014 - 4:56am

Obvious isn't it? No rudders.
Training always without; those guys are seeing, feeling & responding to the ocean more effectively.

Big ups to Vance Hashimoto, reckon he won't be alone next year.

#15 Fri, 05/30/2014 - 8:57am

Hey Kingi,
Isnt it crazy how much they compete? Even in there up hill runs they are competing, its awsome.
Good insight.

Just curious how long is that hill?

#16 Fri, 05/30/2014 - 10:09am


I don?t know exactly about the hill length,I?m sorry! I heard maybe 35minutes to 45minutes? I also hear the boys only have to run up and it looks like in the Shell Vaa photos they might get a ride down?

I doubt my wife would come and pick me up, hahaha!

I know trying to be competitive in paddling puts a big stress on my family if I am gone a lot each week, so always have to scale back to keep the family balance. So I agree, one will only be as good as the time one can put in.

I really admire the guys (and their partners) that can hold down a fulltime job, train hard, rest and spend time with kids.

I?m totally stoked for the EDT, Shell, OPT guys who get some form of structured paddling with the work (its part of the job for many of them, some try and get a job by being paddlers first as well).

I take my hats off to teams like Paddling Connection who still beat the corporate teams in the big one (Hawaiki Nui) with their own jobs and families, they are just like any other non-corporate team.

The results of the 2014 Hawaiki Nui definitely show it is about ?quality not quantity? and give me hope that other teams can take the title for Molokai Hoe! Just have to pick and choose you race, and keep the family happy, hahaha!

#17 Fri, 05/30/2014 - 3:00pm

Thank you k for the minimized Tahitian program!

I just wanted to add that a couple of years ago when I had the chance to see Shell training for their 1st race of the season they were paddling with very HEAVY paddles with BIG blades. I guess they were working primarily on stroke quality.

Apparently, the Papeete hill run is 7 kms. It is a well known road over there and VERY steep. My rental car was screaming to get to the top. Running down would be horrible for the knees.

I know that it should be the discussion for another topic, but talking about 'quality' it's interesting to see the difference in stroke from Paddling Connection vs the other corporate top crews such as Shell/EDT/OPT. For those of you who don't watch TNTV Replay, Paddling Connection has a slower pace using slightly larger blades. The Vaka Iki race footage (Marquesas Islands) held a couple of weeks ago shows once again Paddling Connection beating a team combined of Shell and Marquesan paddlers using a slower stroke rate. Even EDT slowed down their pace last year when Mihimana Ah-Min moved from Paddling Connection to EDT.

I'm sure 2014 will be an interesting season: Shell got rid of Mario Cowan after losing another Hawaiki Nui and welcomed their previous coach, Mr. Gerard Teiva. On the other hand, EDT hired many young paddlers and welcomed the return of Stevy Boy & Taaroa Dubois which already gave them the 1st place on the Polynesie 1ere race. OPT brought Rene Avaepi (2009 & 2010 Hawaiki Nui winner) back as their coach. The 2014 Molo Solo also showed everyone some interesting lessons after the Tahitians, as Kamanu Composites stated on its website, 'out of deference to Hawaii' decided to paddle on OC1s instead of V1s.

Mahalo everyone!!!

#18 Fri, 05/30/2014 - 7:26pm

I would do as the Tahitians have done: Go see Stan Dickson. Over 20 years ago, Stan would put on rudderless paddling clinics by Tahitian paddlers at Key Project in Kahaluu in order to teach Hawaii kids this lost skill and art. The kids learned on "lagoon boats," which predated the V-1's, in the flat water behind Hygenic Store. And if you learned fast, you could accompany a Tahitian paddler around the "Hat" from the Hygenic Store. The emphasis back then was to be able to control the canoe from only one side. Steersman greatly benefitted from these clinics. Trust me, handling those long "lagoon boats" in the windy chop of Kaneohe Bay was quite a chore, there were no hard chines to aid in tracking.

#19 Sat, 05/31/2014 - 9:22pm

Thank you for the link Rambo. Here is a link to the online article; not as pretty - but easier to read.


#20 Sun, 06/01/2014 - 5:33pm


feirulegui you are spot on bro, i agree. i think the name of the slower longer stroke technique used is called ?Huti?

i some teams outside of tahiti that dont like to train over 3.5 hours because the recovery time is too long, but lot of guys in tahiti swear by the long paddles so they can ?dial in? all that finesse really easily on race day, instead of complaining of lack of blend during the race. common sense if you are at the top level.

again back to having balance with your family and work, 6 hours is a long time and the other 5 days in the week too.

#21 Mon, 06/02/2014 - 10:10am

the reason is simple. Both Danny, Jimmy, and the Tahitians have a true love and passion for our sport. Secondly, they spend much more time in the water.....mahalo

#22 Tue, 06/03/2014 - 4:36pm

Do you know which hill( le Belvedere?) Steevy boy has the record in Papeete ? What's the time?

#23 Tue, 06/03/2014 - 5:47pm


no but i can ask, i dont know how official it is...

#24 Wed, 06/04/2014 - 1:04pm

When you World Champs, pre-race prep and training is first class:


Now that's motivation, no wonder they win...

#25 Thu, 06/05/2014 - 8:45am

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