I was recently talking with a friend who is a paddleboarder (prone). He was lamenting the commercializtion of paddleboarding. He'd like to see it remain a "grass-roots" sport for the few, and he is active in keeping it that way. I was pondering this as it relates to Outrigger. Obviously Outrigger paddling has thus far remained somewhat "underground". I was wondering if this, too, is by design. I for one would like to see the sports grow, but I dont want to see either sport exploited the way surfing was.

Submitted by aquafiend65 on Wed, 01/30/2008 - 3:11pm

I just don't see how there ever might be too many paddlers. I can see how excessive popularity has made surfing less enjoyable for some, but I don't see that happening w/ paddling. Paddleboarding too commercial?

#1 Wed, 01/30/2008 - 4:48pm

I cant see why its not exploding, there’s such a high when on the water. Mingling with the ocean. In the hands of the earth. Adding competition to it is the icing on the cake. if it was as big as say baseball has got, it would change.

so maybe were luckier than we think .


#2 Wed, 01/30/2008 - 6:29pm

I don't think a little more recognition for the sport would exactly hurt, I tell people I paddle and a week later they ask how crew is going for me. Other friends that know what paddling is laugh and say it looks boring. Their loss.

I hope paddling grows but I also hope that it doesn't go quite as far as surfing did with all the commercialization etc. Considering the much higher cost to participate in paddling it probably won't.

#3 Wed, 01/30/2008 - 6:52pm

I agree with Jim that there can't be too many paddlers. The bigger the sport gets, the better the equipment will get. That said, though, I seriously doubt if it will ever reach the Hollywood-frenzy-fueled status of surfing for many reasons. For one, it's a hell of lot more work and most people are too lazy. It's too easy to pose as a surfer...a little lingo, a cheap board on my roof and viola'...I'm Keanu Reeves!

I think it's a lot harder and more expensive to pose as a paddler... and certainly offers less of a coolness factor outside of our little paddling world.

me: "I'm a paddler."
chick at bar: "What's that?"
me: "You know...outrigger canoes...with the ama out to one side."
chick at bar: "What's an ama?"
me: "you know...the floaty thing."
chick at bar: "so its like rowing?"
me: "no...we sit facing forward."
chick at bar: "so you kayak?"
me: "no!...it's outrigger! Open ocean racing...in canoes"
chick at bar: "like a jetski?"
me: "forget it...."

#4 Wed, 01/30/2008 - 7:03pm

I agree. Recognition isnt explotation. Using surfing as an example......there are thousands and thousands of kids who havent a clue who Blake or Simmons is, and they think surfing is Thrasher Mags aquatic version of skateboarding.
Most paddlers know and appreciate the heritage of paddling.

#5 Wed, 01/30/2008 - 7:07pm


At least the chick at the bar talked to you....

me: "I'm a paddler."
chick at bar: "Whatever. Go away."

(Tommy Tutone paddled before it was cool.)

#6 Wed, 01/30/2008 - 7:32pm

What is the definition of grass roots here? Outrigger paddling grass roots? Paddleboarding grass roots? Have you tried buying a used paddleboard lately? Tried buying a used oc1 lately? Not to mention the plethora of gear needed to complement your sport (paddles, vehicle and racks, paddling wear, supplements, water systems etc).

One of the true supporters of growing a sport- grass roots style was George Downing....back in the 70's he built about 10 identical paddleboards and loaned them out to people so they would be able to borrow them, race them and sample the sport. Until equipment becomes available/affordable to the lay person and young people on limited incomes, it will be very difficult to grow the sport at a grass roots level. Face it, the lines are drawn by haves and have nots.

#7 Wed, 01/30/2008 - 8:34pm

I dropped 3600$ on a impulse to get an OC-1+accessories. It is not cheap. Even living in a close to "ideal" place to paddle, having space to store the boat, an SUV with rack to transport, loading it up and driving through traffic to get to the right place for an hour out, I dont really know many who would do it if they could...and the 9 to 5 folks with families, when are they going to have those 3 hours chunks 2-3 times a week to train? I work 3 12 hour shifts, without that schedual, without the SUV and with living 30 minutes from a place you really start enduring a lot to get in the water.

The politics and readily apparent "clicks" that go along with getting a seat on a boat or finding somene to go out with is not applealing so it is OC-1 for me. Introducing myself as new to paddling, no one is jumping up give me tips so I go by myself learning online.

I would have a tough time talking my friends into that gig even if they had the time and $ to do it, no worries about the sport exploding IMO

#8 Wed, 01/30/2008 - 8:48pm

at a bar

me: "I use lotion"
chick at Hula's Waikiki: "You're disgusting"

I never even made the transition to paddling. But I'll tell you what, those chicks at Hula's sure know how to party.

No offense intended toward those that chill at Hula's, just make sure you wash your hands after using the pool cues.

#9 Wed, 01/30/2008 - 11:57pm

i do like the analogy mr STEVE WEST ones used in one of his books........Outrigger is a true link with an ancient tradition wich has nothing to do with the modern ways.......

i agree that we dont have to worrie with the sport overgrowing........however, we should all give our best to help the tradition prevale alive. so more people enjoy the benefits......

last time i cheked it was 2008!!!! fast times equal not time at all.............the lucky ones that enjoy Outrigger are the ones that choose a different path, to comite and practice is a way of life pretty exotic no matter on wich side of the globe you live.

how lucky we are!!!!


#10 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 2:40am

I come from a background of fringe sports, i.e., disc golf, SUP, and in the early days, the duathalon. I have seen growth in all of them but nothing that is negative. I would like to see more oc-1 paddlers in my area for the comradarie and workout partners.

I am amused every time I pick up a People magazine (waiting rooms reads only, I would not buy one of these rags) that I find a photo of some celeb stand up paddling. Maybe one of these days I'll see a celeb on an outrigger :)

I think a certain amount of recognition and popularity is good for the sport.


#11 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 5:13am

The king , Elvis, I seen on a outrigger in one of those movies he made. He didnt pull tho he was workin the girl from the bar eo2060 was talking about.

#12 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 6:15am

In reference to my last post, thank you to all those who PM'ed me about the clientele at Hula's Waikiki.

Could have sworn it was a chick.

#13 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 7:06am

Lamenting about commercialization of paddleboarding and comparing OC to surfing?

If the complainers spent more time enjoying their sport and introducing other good people to it, and less energy worrying about the demise of it, we'd all likely have more fun.

Surfing's different; there are finite take-off spots along any given coast at any given day on any given swell. Coupled with inevitable population growth, fueled by markets that make profit on exploitation of interesting things, there's bound to be frustrations and conflicts. However, knowing the feeling of enjoying it but also seeing the face of somebody new catching their first wave, I see only generally positive there. My frustration with surfing has more to do with surfers believing they have to conform to some silly stereotype in order to be "true" surfers. IMO, true surfer hero's are those who are disciplined, driven, healthy, and community-oriented people who promote it to others, not the bitter, territorial, irresponsible, whining pussies who desperately try to conform to a provincial typecast and call it freedom. But this topic ain't about surfing...

Can't see paddleboarding being mainstream; too much work for the common man. Same with paddling. Look at Kayaking, is the world overrun by kayakers? I remember when sea-kayaking was a novelty. Now look at it? It has a pretty positive light. And, look at the choice of ocean-going designs and quality of boats today that you never saw years ago. Prices for the high-end have stayed high, but much easier to get your children into a sea-kayak today than yesterday. Same with paddleboarding, could you imagine an entry of 100+ paddleboarders in a race? Imagine the chaos, and imagine how fun it would be neck-to-neck racing a crowd than the same old few (those few could still be in that crowd). You'd have an easier time finding somebody else to paddle with, and you could still go at it solo when you wanted. You could even run limited participant races if desired.

Example of popularity: If Gov. Arnie of CA was a hard-core surfer, and realized that anywhere from 0-72 hours after it rained he couldn't surf because of all the crap running off into the inshore, do you think he'd be a bit more interested in seeing things cleaned up?

I've been involved with many "esoteric" sports (as seen by the commoner). OC1 is esoteric to many (of course not all). Same with paddleboarding, etc.. And the same complaints run in all these circles about keeping it grass-roots. IMO the world would be a better place if more people experienced the absolute stoke I have from doing these activities. Sure there'd be associated negatives, but the positives [IMO] far outweigh.

#14 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 7:42am

I think there is a certain convenience factor that needs to be considered when looking at the level of exploitation that goes on in any given sport. The less convenient a sport is, the less it seems to get exploited by the mainstream populace. As water sports go, the closer you are to temperate water the more convenient the sport becomes and the less "underground" it is. In Hawai'i surfing, paddling, paddleboarding ect. are all about as convenient as they get. Even the have-nots stand a pretty good shot of being able to find a board or boat to get out on or in if they really want to. With that comes the increased presence of those who are more interested in simply looking the part. In places like the Pacific NW these sports are horribly inconvenient....dealing with harder to find and vastly limitted suppliers, longer drives and gas costs, wet-suits, 40-50 degree water...but the upside for those that keep with it all is that when you see another car with a board \ boat strapped up top heading towards the shore, chances are those other people are in it because they love it, and if you approach these people they'll welcome hearing from you. As I see it commercialization \ exploitation depends on location. People don't exploit something to make a buck or take on a look if it isn't easy.

#15 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 9:38am

Brotherhood of the outrigger, I got sort of "snubed" twice...Redondo Beach "Hey I dont know where to go I am slow because I am a novice, can I follow you out to see where to go?" reply "maybe when we find out who you are" and they took off. Enjoy. In Long Beach at mothers beach the people were nice enough to talk to me but the upshot was dont launch you canoe here, go to lealand sailing club...couldnt possibly find a good reason for either of these incidents. I also have been involved in some fringe sports (like Kettlebell competitions) and there is definately a feeling of having a common interest that encourages comraderie. Being a one man band is fine with me but there was certainly no brotherhood going on. If a new to paddler came up to me, I would respond in a totally different way. Having lived in several places Los Angeles' heart is a few degrees colder at first approach than other cities. The feeling I got was like surfing..."Im here, step back"

#16 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 12:09pm

i think discussions like this generally stem from people wanting to be unique in their activities...

is surfing exploited? most definitely. chineboy stated it well about the limited resources to surfing (i.e. waves) that really affects the stoke when the masses move in- but surfing is the coolest sport still so how can you tell people not to learn how without being a dick? people are also bummed because before it became mainstream, surfing was more lifestyle than an activity, in the relationship to the ocean and its rhythmns be it swell or tides, or wind. and now it's just a commodity.

if we take surfing as the fully mature sport taken to an extreme, paddling is on the other end of that spectrum- rich in history and heritage but still in it's infancy in terms of it's commercialization. you can bitch about commercialization but to the question of greater acceptance and "mainstream"ness- i bet you that all the boat makers, reps, athletes, and anyone else who would like to do this sport for more than a hobby would LOVE it be more mainstream. our club is always looking for new people and we have to hustle to get novices every year- we'd be stoked if we could pick and choose....

and unlike surfing it won't impact any paddler if the hordes started paddling, because there's plenty of space in the ocean... the only thing that will be affected is the sense of uniqueness because you partake in a niche sport- which is great but if the sport isn't cool enough to do on it's own even if it wasn't unique, then would you do it? so who cares if it's "exploited"- that's about as far away as a prospect as the moon- it can't be exploited if it's barely even known beyond a few..

#17 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 12:29pm

I think the reason OC paddlingsnot exploding faster is partly due to people not being aware of what theyre missing.

For many years I used to paddle a marathon canoe in the ocean always near shore always uneasy about tipping over.
When outriggers became available I all but quit paddling the marathon boats. Too much fun to be had on the outrigger compared to the marathon boats. Peace of mind about safety, easy to get going again if you huli. No eskimo roll required , no pumping out a flooded cockpit , The outriggers are a very user friendly , safe type of boat for everyone from beginner to top competitor. Once people begin to realize this , maybe outrigger will spread more rapidly.

Theres no advertising going on to speak off in magazines that kayakers read. People think that if youre going paddling on the ocean , you must be going in a kayak . The idea of there even being another choice of boat for ocean paddling doesn`t even register.

There`s no outrigger paddling schools to go to for lessons.

In contrast , practically every town near water has a kayaking school.

Maybe it`s time to open some outrigger paddling schools ?

#18 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 12:42pm

Shawn, maybe those guys who didn't want to paddle w/ you were just being safety conscious-they didn't want to take you outside w/ out knowing if you're up to it. When you go out with people, everyone automatically becomes responsible for each other, so it's way easier going with other people you trust and know.

#19 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 3:50pm

the "brotherhood" you speak of doesn't come because you have a paddle in your hand, it comes because you train with people in the summer in the heat, and in winter in the cold and dark, when everyone else is drinking cold beer. props to you buying the equipment and trying out this brand new sport sight unseen...

different people may respond in different ways to a stranger asking for help paddling- individual paddlers are not "ambassadors" of the sport- i certainly don't feel that way- i personally try to be friendly and helpful, but depending on the time or circumstance i can see where someone wouldn't feel obligated to give an instant lesson just because someone came up and asked. in the wintertime, people are on their own time training, unrelated to their normal club affiliation..

paddling is no different than any other activity- same interpersonal or group dynamics.. assuming that it's different is just that- an assumption. if you want to feel more included, look up the local clubs and come out with the clubs- the function of the clubs is to bring up new paddlers... your interactions with individual paddlers will vary- some people are super friendly and others not so much...paddlers don't have a universal manual of paddling protocol.. section b.4.9 BE NICE TO NEW PEOPLE.. no such thing..

it's like any sport, the best thing is to be friendly and consistent- if people see you around and see that you're serious, they're more apt to include you... interacting in this forum and trying to set something up is helpful also.... don't be discouraged. hope to see you out

#20 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 4:49pm

I think what you guys are forgetting is the venue. Surfing-- like tennis, golf, etc, --provides a view from the beach for the masses to get involved in the performance of the athletes. There is a definite start and finish to the performance. Paddling does not offer this...they see you take off into the blue yonder and return a couple of hours later at the finish line. Only OC-6 sprint races offer clear start and finish lines that the crowds can see from beginning to end. Unless you have big money behind the sport tracking the athletes (like Transpac), it will be hard to attract sponsors and the type of commercialization of that magnitude. While competition is good and fosters better equipment and athletic caliber, is that really what you want?

#21 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 4:58pm

Tour de france has limited venure. Except for the last 1 or 2 km of each stage spectators can't see anything. Outriggers haven't exploded its too hard to get an OC1 and there is very poor media coverage (aka no video for the media to play).

I used think the price tag was too high but people buy $3000 road bikes all the time. And from what Ive seen in Cali stand up boards costing $1500 are selling like hot cakes. If you think about it, when did surfing explode? It took off when everyone and their mom could get a surf board. Not afford it, but go to a store, pick one out and bring it home. Once OC1s are everywhere (or wait list go down to less then a month) and people can buy them on a whim, then outrigger paddling might take off.

#22 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 6:06pm

Surfing isn't exactly a spectator sport either unless you are close to the beach and happen to drive by and choose to have your brown bag lunch while watching it. At tournaments you see probably the same people over and over again. Beach volley ball probably the same thing. Ever noticed there are no wide shots of these events because nobody's there. Early X-games all tight shots sort of like day soaps, all faces, all the time.
The spectators sit on couches my friends, having a brew with some pork rinds in the right hand while the the left is scratching the jewels wrapped in the latest board shorts. It's on TV . Lairds et. all doing their thing admirably so. Every discovery, nat-geo, history, weather and what not channel is all over it. Porkrinder heaven.
My brethren from Euroland might have a good idea for spectatorifficness. They have a short triangular course. Something like along the shore, left turn into the swell and downhill back to the crowd. Not too far from shore but 3 times around all within eyesight from shore. You could track it cheaply with camera from shore. It's long distance or as long as you want it to be. 3 varying conditions 3 times in a row. Can you imagine at some point where you say : Dude I'm lapping you right now.(in a nonsexual way of course)
Pick your roughest spot make it like Super Cross. Prepare for spectacular wipeouts and well sponsored equipment destruction. Nascar H2O.
I'm getting some pork rinds right now.
If none of the above works I'll say let's go nude!!!
and wear helmets for safety's sake.

#23 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 6:39pm

Okay I'll settle for thong to keep it rated G.

#24 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 6:56pm

nude is OK, but be sure to wear those little nipple tassel thingies. glittery red of course.

#25 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 8:27pm

Painteur - if you're wearing a thong, I want you paddling in front of me.
And Jc9_0 - what were you doing at Hula's? Never mind, I don't want to know.

#26 Thu, 01/31/2008 - 8:44pm

I in no way felt entitled to more than a minute of either of the groups time. They were hanging out and talking and joking around long before and after I came up. But, "go somewhere else" and "we dont know you" were unwelcoming....when you are put off you dont need to analyze the word, you can feel it. They are not ambassidors, but clicks and clubs can have a certain culuture and I was unmistakably reminded of surfing in the Palos Verdes Bayboys style.

So yea, it is very clear that having a new boat and going out paddling does not mean much, but part of my experience. I always tried really hard to get people into Kettlebell sport because I wanted people to train with and compete with...I was not threated or annoyed because it was a passion I wanted to share.

Thank god for al gore inventing the net, I can learn what I need to know online as needed.

#27 Fri, 02/01/2008 - 11:24am

Im guessing that when someone designs and builds an OC1 that is aimed at recreation/touring, you will see more people come to it. When more people come to OC it will give occasion to exploit it. Speaking of which....Does anybody recall an article a few years back in Surfers Journal of the Malloy brothers swimming a secluded section of one of the Islands? I think it'd be pretty cool to have an outrigger that was designd more for exploration/expedition. Something that could be loaded with gear.

#28 Fri, 02/01/2008 - 2:00pm

that's called a kayak, why mess up a perfectly good OC1 with gear?
Race horses don't pull the bud wagon. Clydesdales do!
Before I ride a Clyde my pride will side with glide and speedily so.

#29 Fri, 02/01/2008 - 3:54pm

Shawn, dismiss that cold shoulder as something that happens sometimes. Believe me, the people you meet and the places you will go over the next 2 years will more than make up for it.

Whenever I'm on the ocean and no matter who I'm with, if i see a fellow paddler on their own, i always paddle over and invite them to join us and i think the majority of the OC paddling community would do the same. I find it helps if you embrace some of the culture and traditions of OC, this is what differentiates it from other paddle sports, as well as a love of the ocean and respect and admiration for the creatures that call it home.

Stay safe on the ocean and arm yourself for self rescue.

PM me if you want more info how to stay safe.

Cheers Rambo

#30 Fri, 02/01/2008 - 6:13pm

ya shawn

chin up and it will only get better, get a few races under your belt and travell a bit garantied good times. I wish I was just starting again.

see you on the water Shawn

#31 Fri, 02/01/2008 - 5:12pm

A little add on to Shawn:

it is better to paddle with people that you know as paddlers.

You may end up with people that have no interest to look out for you, that is worse than being on your own.

I once paddled with a buddy that I know fairly well, but we had never paddled together.
We agreed on general direction in a surf run. When I reached the point, I was looking for my partner - couldn't find him. So I went back uphill, looking for him. It was getting dark and he was nowhere.
I finally went back to shore, called the coast guard that someone was potentially missing, just because of the cold and the dark.

Well, it took me ten more minutes to find the gentleman; he had decided to go straight back to our landing site.

Now the opposite:

During one of our races in rough water my Hurricane seat had come off, was floating around and I was not sure how to get to it.
A close competitior came up to me, stopped and stayed with me until the escort boat had noticed us.
He waited until I had fixed my seat; then we continued the race.
I will never forget this. Great class - Pete Roney.

#32 Fri, 02/01/2008 - 9:23pm

Outrigger sport is growing ?

If you look at outrigger connections web site, they have factories everywhere now.

Also, the fact that everybody went to produce in China must mean that they had continued high demand and probably also that they expect this to stay that way.

#33 Fri, 02/01/2008 - 9:28pm

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