New to OC1 and have questions

Hello fellow paddlers:

On flat water, my canoe (Kahe kai) is fast and it’s rare for me to huli. I don’t find myself leaning towards the ama as I paddle.

In open ocean (2’-3’ seas), I tend to lean towards the ama to avoid a huli, of course even more so when I am paddling on the right side. I'm 215 lbs. and rig the ama heavy.

The ama is extremely light, but maybe that is a detriment to a novice like me? So I experimented by taping a plastic 12oz bottle of water to the rear Iako. This definitely helped…but I feel like I’ve added training wheels. Has anyone experimented with longer Iakos?

While my paddling has improved partly by watching some of the videos online (thanks Johnny Puakea and others), I feel like a total beginner in balancing the boat and dealing with anything more than flat water.

Is this just a problem for novices like me?

Any advice?

Thank you,

Mark (Florida east coast)

Submitted by Jupiterpaddler on Thu, 06/01/2017 - 2:44am

It's all in the okole! You got to develop them and train them like all your other muscle groups, because once your okole goes, you pau paddle for the day or the race. We paddle with our okole period and it is our largest muscle group. But, because of its location, we neglect it and instead focus on all the other body parts, etc. Or we fool around adjusting the na iako and the ama. More better to train the okole first, especially the gluteus medius, that controls our balance. What I do after a layoff, is remove all padding or foam cushion, and just sit on the hard surface and go paddle like this for a month, developing my sea okole. I might last only 20 minutes the first day, but after a month, you can paddle more than an hour, and your proprioception will have developed so you can now paddle with lots of confidence in the roughest water sitting on your padded foamed seat. Let your okole be your guide, for every time you feel uncomfortable, just shift it a little bit and your stroke will remain powerful.

#1 Thu, 06/01/2017 - 2:26pm


I would suggest that you should focus on improving your balance and learning how to fly the ama.

Remove the water bottle from the rear yako, find a place where you feel confortable and start to try to fly the ama. When you are paddling right, do 3 strokes and lean your to the right to lift the ama and in the same time brace right with your paddle. Take 10 to 15 minutes of your training sessions to do this. You will see that it will be hard in the begginning, but in certain moment there will be a click in your brain and you will start flying the ama naturally. It will improve your balance as well as your defensive reflexes to brace right with the paddle. You will find it very usefull in rough waters. You may still huli sometimes but you will see that you will avoid the huli a number of times doing it.
The left butt pain and leg numbness will reduce a lot or disappear.
The next step would be to paddle with the ama lifted, but it is far more difficult and I am still learning how to do it ;) if you have any tips, it is welcome.


#2 Sun, 06/04/2017 - 2:56am

nothing beats paddling, practicing flying the ama, etc. but you can also work on building you core strength and doing balancing exercises on land. I did a "boot camp" style exercise class heavily focused on the core and I felt that it helped me a lot. However, if you have to choose between paddling and running around in a gym, go paddling.

#3 Sun, 06/04/2017 - 9:41am

Would like to add more to this question. Curious how to keep the more experienced paddlers put their body weight on the paddle without tipping the canoe over, esp in bigger water. How do you put weight one the paddle efficiently without tipping the boat over? If you just lean straight forward it wont tip the boat but then the weight isn't really on the paddle is it?

#4 Tue, 06/06/2017 - 11:51am

My 2 cents: You have the greatest stability when your blade is in the water with pressure on the blade face. When you have this, the paddle forms one point in a triangle with your okole and your feet. If you are solidly connected on all three points, the triangle is stable so you can "get your weight on the blade". Missing your catch, drawing too far back, having a weak core, or not being connected to the canoe through your seat and feet will put you at risk.

One final thought: don't go out in windy conditions if you are not reasonably confident or at least not worried about going for a swim. You won't learn much if you are so worried about flipping that you are always leaning to the left and can't take good strokes on the right.

#5 Sat, 06/10/2017 - 10:11am

That makes sense. Hard to tell sometimes whether having the ama lift and drop as you paddle on the right is a sign of good/bad balance or whether you're throwing your weight too hard outside the boat.

#6 Sun, 06/11/2017 - 8:08am

I recently sold my Scorpius and picked up a KaheKai. I love the boat, light and surfs well but with the light ama and shorter iakos I find myself in the water as much as I'm in the boat! I was out today and was really getting frustrated. For some reason it struck me my seat was set all the way back and while I'm not short (6'), I'm not that tall either so I moved it up about 3-4'. Not sure the mechanics of it but it really seemed to help a lot (felt like the weight was more distributed to both cheeks?). Maybe with the a deeper bend in my knees my core is more involved? I don't know but again it helped. Maybe give it a try?

#7 Sun, 06/25/2017 - 8:55pm

There's truth to this ^.
I actually swapped out the stock seat in my Kahekai for a stock Ehukai seat and it performs 100% better.

#8 Mon, 06/26/2017 - 8:35am

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