Tahitian Secrets


Train 3 times a day, 6 days a week -

weights 3 times a week - 2 x shoulders and lower back, 1 x legs (yes, legs), high reps, low weights (replace morning trainings)

limit to around 85kg
paddle with monster blades
bring in new passionate guys to keep the competition tough in crew seats
two crews each session
have a bucket-load of cash (Shell)
eat anything and everything
greatly reduce your family time
have an awesome coach

Submitted by k on Mon, 10/13/2008 - 8:27pm

i am a firm believer in the eat anything and everything policy. glad to know i'm not the only one.

#1 Mon, 10/13/2008 - 8:48pm

There are good reasons for the Monster blade. The Tahitian Stroke is based on little slippage in the water and therefore they use the paddle as a 2nd class lever to move the boat and not move water , which would be 1st & 3rd class levers.

With this style of stroke you can achieve very fast ratings, as they do, and it's very economical energy wise. All this helps keep the canoe at it's designed hull speed, which they obviously also do very well.

This kind of analysis is going on right around the world (thanks Clyde) as people react to the awesome speed the Tahitians have shown in this race.

Can't wait to see the video footage.

Cheers Rambo

#2 Mon, 10/13/2008 - 9:15pm

I got to see one of them Tahiti blades up close in Aug, it was 47 inches leigth wise or so. and I would guess there diet is [very] healthy.

#3 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 9:51am

III. Levers – Location of effort force, load or resistance force, and rotational axis
A. Three types of levers
1. First class
2. Second class
3. Third class
4. Differences between the three have to do with the relative locations of the effort, load, and the axis of rotation

B. First Class Lever
1. “EOR”
O = axis or pivot point
E = effort force (as applied by muscle/tendon)
R = resistance (load) force (outside force such as barbell)
2. The effort force and the load force are located on opposite sides of the axis of rotation
3. Example: seesaw
4. Anatomical example: Triceps muscle – elbow extensor
Insertion: Olecranon process of ulna
5. First class levers are rare in human body

C. Second Class Lever
1. “ORE”
2. The resistance (load) force and the effort force are on the same side of the axis of rotation
3. The effort lever arm is GREATER than the resistance lever arm
4. Example: wheel barrow
5. Anatomical example: brachioradialis – elbow flexor
Insertion: Styloid process of radius (distal – past the center of mass)
6. Second class levers are rare in the human body

D. Third Class Lever
1. “OER”
2. Effort and resistance (load) forces are on the same side of the axis of rotation
3. The effort lever arm is SMALLER than the resistance lever arm
4. Anatomical example: Biceps brachii – elbow flexor
Insertion: Tuberosity of radius (proximal)
5. Anatomical example 2: Quadriceps group – knee extensors
Insertion: Patella, tibia
6. Third class levers are common in the human body

IV. Mechanical Advantage
A. Mechanical Advantage defined as:
Effort Lever Arm/Resistance Lever Arm
1. A second class lever will always have a mechanical advantage greater than one because the effort lever arm is always GREATER than the resistance lever arm
2. A third class lever will always have a mechanical advantage less than one because the effort lever arm is always LESS than the resistance lever arm
3. A first class lever can have a mechanical advantage less than, equal to, OR greater than one, depending on the locations of the effort force and resistance force versus the axis of rotation

B. Mechanical Advantage VS. Speed
1. The mechanical advantage of a third class lever – common in the body – is poor – always less than one
2. However, the SPEED of rotation created by a third class lever is high

  1. Because the origin of the resistance force is located farther from the axis than the origin of the effort force, it must travel a greater distance in the same time
  2. Greater distance per unit time = greater speed
  3. Good for throwing objects, kicking, etc.
  4. Opposite would be true of second class lever

Now you know ...

#4 Mon, 10/13/2008 - 10:47pm

Is there any paddle stroke that is based on slippage ? Does blade size relate to slippage ?

#5 Mon, 10/13/2008 - 10:50pm

Geezas, i opened the door for that one didn't I? .. hahaha

Thanks Ecky.

Cheers Rambo

#6 Mon, 10/13/2008 - 10:57pm

I wasn't too sure about that grading, so I looked it up. :)

#7 Mon, 10/13/2008 - 11:16pm

damn dude... nose bleed trying to figure that out. but it does make sense.

thanks eckhart...

#8 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 1:38am

Joe, this is my understanding of what they do.

With the canoe running at max design hull speed, the six paddlers need only maintain that speed to efficiently move from point A to point B. Of course this won't happen all the time as they will fall on and off bumps and also when they do changeovers they need to get the canoe back up to speed again (something a lot of crews fail to do).

Think through what a pole vaulter does on his approach to the cross bar, he's moving forward max speed, he plants the pole and pushes down. His momentum carries him forward and he is catapulted over the bar.

Relate this back to the canoe. The canoe is moving forward max speed, you plant the paddle forward of you, you "catch" the water and push down and forwards with the top arm. The top arm controls the forward movement of the bottom arm (yes the bottom hand moves forward relative to the planted blade not back like people think, this is where most people get it wrong) your upper body unwinding provides the power to pivot the paddle at your bottom hand which in turn provides force to the blade face anchored in the water. The canoe moves past the paddle (catapult over the bar) and you withdraw and exit.

The Tahitian Stroke is short, everything happens well in front of the hips, actually not much past the knee. It's this short stroke that allows the fast rating.
It's different to what most of use have been taught and closer to the Mid West river paddlers style.

Feel free to correct me if you think I'm wrong, as this is all just my opinion and observations.

That's my Einstein Moment now I'm off to bed, head hurts.

Cheers Rambo

#9 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 2:55am


#10 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 4:49am

I believe you are rignt Rambo, in that blade speed is most likely to be achieved by quickly snapping or driving on the lever, similar to the contact phases of a baseball bat swing or a golf swing, just prior to impact with the ball. The old style of paddling was trying to achieve a long, deep, powerful stroke as if we were pulling a barge. The Tahitians have shown that in a speed race, you need blade speed to achieve hull speed. The differences could be compared to the RPM speed and size of the propeller on a speed boat, as compared to that on a ship or tug boat.

Waiting for your input on this my paddling friend, Eckhart.

#11 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 6:49am

Can someone post a photo of these "monstrous" blades?~~~~~~~~~~
"Anyone can steer the ship when the sea is calm" - Syrus Publilius

#12 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 7:39am

alt text

those are inches, not centimeters.

#13 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 7:52am

Slippage seems to be less of a factor while the hull is being moved at a higher speed.

Rambo - it would seem that the pushing forward of the top arm creates more of a class 3 lever and takes away some class 2 lever quality. - ?

I have never done a pole vault, thus I am not sure what the top arm really does in that sport. The pole vault analogy would suggest a long stroke with a final push at the very end.

In rowing they have three different types of stroke:
one where the max it as the beginning, one with the max in the middle, one with the max power at the end.
I am not sure that they have decided which one is the best.

The best energy transfer - in rowing - occurs when the blade is square.
My guess is that you want to have the blade in that position as long as possible.

Do the Tahitians consciously jump off with their leading foot just before they start the pull ?
It would make sense to me if you would raise off the seat and move your weight/center of gravity forward, more over your foot, on every stroke.

Theoretically it is easy:
E = 1/2 m v2 ( square ) - the m is the mass = the size of the blade, the v is the velocity = the velocity that you pull the blade with.

Factor in how often you do that per time unit, your frequency.

Thus: biggest blade, fastest pull and highest stroke rate wins if all other things are equal.

The stroke length comes into play, too: it determines the ratio between pull and release. You want as little overall 'air time' of your blade, that is more pull time and less release time.

Also, the canting of the oar matters in rowing.

While theoretic, I actually do believe that thinking of these issues improves technique, it gives you 'swing thoughts'.

The rule is to be as efficient as possible, without lots of practice it won't work though.

#14 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 8:54am

Rambo et al,

You guys are absolutely right, the Tahitian stroke IS an extremely efficient stroke... when you watch them paddle it looks effortless, as if they are just 'patting' the water along. There are a couple of caveats though, because we have tried this type of stroke time and time again: it requires absolutely pinpoint timing - so that everyone gets the 'hit' at exactly the same time; it also require extreme fitness to maintain the necessarily higher stroke rate, in order for it to work (hence the insane training regimes of most Tahitian paddlers); and it requires a lighter boat (hence the weight restriction for some of the teams like Shell). That is why heavier crews favour a longer, fuller stroke to try and maximise the glide and plus its easier to get the timing right.
I have thought about this time and time again, and don't believe in a long distance race that there is that much difference between the longer stroke and the quicker one, you just need to look at a team like Erai or Lanikai - bigger guys, with a slower stroke and (putting Shell aside for the moment) are still at the top of the heap from both countries (Hawaii and Tahiti). Plus the amount of time spent training to master that stroke and at that rate like Shell does - means you need a setup like they have - jobs organised around paddling, and a highly technical approach to every facet of their training. Not to diminish their results, but what would you expect when all you have to do is show up and paddle (aside from being the best in a pool of thousands of competitive paddlers!), and everything else is taken care for you - nutrition, training etc etc. Shell is an example of what can be done if you have the time and resources - which clearly most of us don't have.
So, I appreciate what Shell has achieved (like everyone else), but realise it is a result of almost fanatical dedication from everyone in their team - and not such much that the Tahitians are somehow 'superhuman'. It is the same with Olympians, you admire what they achieve but also recognise the amount of time and sacrifice they put into competing at that level. As for me, I just love paddling for the pure enjoyment of it - end of story.

#15 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 9:01am

Do all the Tahitian crews paddle with this same stroke and rate or is it just Shell Va'a that's doing 80 strokes per minute?

#16 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 9:49am

what would you think of a hoile in the center of the paddle for tracking? somone mentioned that Idea to me once.

#17 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 9:50am


#18 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 9:51am

What i described mainly focuses on the key or primary elements of the Tahitian Stroke, there are of course other secondary actions or movements that combine to complete it. I kept to the key points to keep it simple.

This is not "Lilly Dipping, which is more like short vertical pokes, like trying to push a tennis ball under water.

I believe the large blade surface compensates for some of the inefficiencies in the stroke, like what Eckhart said about the squareness of the blade.

Yes the connection to the hull by the feet is still the same, it's just a shorter more intense contraction from foot to paddle.

You're using the paddle as the main lever not the body.

This stoke technique will only work as Coconut said, for a crew with spot on timing and great fitness, a novice crew would probably initially go slower.

Executed correctly in a canoe at rest, you will most likely break your paddle, under way it's a powerful action that can maintain speed efficiently.

The pole vaulter analogy is not an exact one, only parts of it, but i does draw a good mind image to compare to.

Again only my observations and opinions and open to discussion.

Cheers Rambo

#19 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 11:30am


i'm stoked because there is no magic to Shell's success ... except the desire to commit to 3 trainings a day with fanatical zeal... you need some serious life planning to make that happen.

i think Lanikai #1 pulled in the next best performance balancing family and training with a 3rd overall. lots of those guys are dads and hold down full-time jobs. on a performance basis with all factors weighed up Lanikai really was a champion... to my mind anyway.

#20 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 12:17pm

i log on to ocpaddler at least three times daily. this is my regiment. it seems to keep me in tip top posting shape.

#21 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 1:36pm

So if we put together a crew of the top 9 posters on OCP for next year's channel, what place would we end up in?

#22 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 2:33pm

Jibofo, I don't think we'd leave shore. We'd be way too busy talking about paddling and probably forget the race. Plus I'd be too busy chasing aquafiend around trying to kick his ass rather than getting into the boat.

#23 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 2:43pm

thanks for diving into that fellas...

the "swing thoughts" explains a lot -one year do this, next year dont do it.

as far as the Shell stroke is concerned, there is so much going on that defies what has been fundamentals (to me, &idontnoshit) that a formula is really the only way to break it down.

did you notice from the photos that they (shell paddlers) dont look the same? blade angles, wrist, hand, arm, all different. But they hit together.

#24 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 3:35pm

Yeah K - that was pretty much how I saw it too - along with Team Venus and Team Pa'a - because I know many of those guys in those teams and they are great paddlers and top guys. The Lanikai team are also humble and approachable - true ambassadors for the sport.

#25 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 3:52pm


Remember that they do have full time jobs... Their morning practice is at 4am, if you wake up at 3:30am you can also do 2 practices a day, 1 before and 1 after work. And the mid-day practice doesn't happen always....

The problem is to find 9 guys (or 10 women) with that kind of commitment....

The Mooloolaba women crew that won on 2005 (I guess) had a very intense program too....

P.S.: Pay attention on EDT Va'a during Hawaiki Nui, at least 3 paddlers are ex-Shell Va'a paddlers...

#26 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 4:22pm

Very interesting stuff guys, fascinating really!, what is your background eckhardt? As Im not blessed with the perfect shaped body for paddling I find this information really usefull in trying to come up with the most efficient stroke for my size and shape, I was recently in Tahiti learning to paddle a va'a and they kept telling me to concentrate on fluid smoothness with a strong emphasis on rebounding off the end of the stroke(as someone said less air time for the paddle) and compared the canoe travelling over the water not through it as a thrown stone skips over the water, imagine that you are that stone.
My good mate Jean Luc Eychene(ex Super Aito) is in the early stages of setting up a "paddling school/ holiday camp" on Huahine, he has asked me to ask you guys how many people would be interested in travelling there for a week to learn to paddle the Tahitian way on your own or with your six man crew as well as some diving and surfing etc, as I said its in the early stages so some input would be really useful for him, They are now all busily preparing for their, Holy Grail, the Hawaiki Nui, keep the great info coming.

#27 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 4:31pm

I would go:

I think 'K' put it best - but its all relative, of course you get out what you put in. My point was that with the kind of support and backup that the Shell paddlers enjoy, that it stands to reason they should perform so well. I am not trying to diminish what they have achieved, on the contrary - I think it has been phenomenal, however I just thought a bit of perspective was necessary at this point. Nuff said.
Kevlon, that paddling school concept in Huahine sounds awesome, especially with the diving an surfing bit!

#28 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 6:13pm

You guys are awesome....all this physics talk about levers and relation to stroke.....awesome.

I think a lot of people are beating themselves up over the Tahitians smoking everyone. A lot of you have nailed it...

Strict training regimes revolving around work essentially part of work itself

Phenomenal technique

Necessary resources via Shell

Less family time etc.

The thing is it is very hard to compete with that unless you have the ability, desire, and resources to match what their training season truly consists of.
As a paddleboarder myself and all of the guys here in Hawaii trip out on Jamie Mitchell for his sheer dominance year after year. Sure he is truly gifted, in great shape, trains hard, has top notch equipment and support. But most importantly that is what he does, that's his job paddleboarding, training competing.

Sure the Tahitians all have full time jobs but paddling is part of that job as well. They make it part of their job. Don't get me wrong I am so proud of everyone that competed Sunday. Lanikai put forth a great effort, and like they said last year they didn't even see the Tahitians and this year they did, so they improved, great job. Baby steps, Baby steps.....I think if they want it they can do it.

As "I would go" said The problem is to find 9 guys (or 10 women) with that kind of commitment….

Commitment got have that.......I think everyones over analyzing but its good it shows people care and they have drive and desire........but the answer in simple........the question is "How Bad Do You Want It?"

Great Job to everyone who paddled this year, a great inspiration from first to last place. I cannot wait until next year to see what happens!

#29 Tue, 10/14/2008 - 10:51pm

Lanikai did great.

One thing that I find interesting: whenever you see truly outstanding performances you will find one single individual at the very core, even in team sports, the one that sets the tone.

Considering the physics is just fun - unfortunately outrigger is not olympic, no money for research. Much of the literature is in rowing.

An olympic K4 kayak in Europe costs up to $ 150,000.

#30 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 1:24am

Awesome performance once again by the Tahitians !!

If I didnt know for sure they were from Tahiti , Id swear they were from Michigan .

Who was on that Livestrong masters team ? They had an incredible race too.

#31 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 1:41am

The real key seems to be depth of talent in one place.

The top teams around here are comprised of ringers who rarely paddle together except for the day of the race. You can't introduce a radical new style on the day of the race.

The idea of one of those teams finding another team within the same club to train against, let alone an array of teams to experiment with, is completely out of the question.

Someone had to first experiment with these radical departures and had to have a way of validating those radical departures. In essence, this is a national victory for Tahiti.

I looked at my steering paddle. It is almost as big as a Tahitian paddle. I guess I'll just change my seat.
"Anyone can steer the ship when the sea is calm" - Syrus Publilius

#32 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 2:53am

For most paddlers, trying to emulate the Shell style won't work. It's way too hard for 9 people to learn how to hit together at those high rpms, and be in good enough shape to actually make it work, unless they can practice together as much as Shell does. The Lanikai "barge pulling" style is a better way for 99% of crews to reach their max sustainable boat speed. For mere mortals, maintaining 70-80 strokes per minute for hours on end just isn't gonna happen.

#33 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 4:06am

"For most paddlers, trying to emulate the Shell style won’t work. It’s way too hard for 9 people to learn how to hit together at those high rpms, and be in good enough shape to actually make it work, unless they can practice together as much as Shell does. The Lanikai “barge pulling” style is a better way for 99% of crews to reach their max sustainable boat speed. For mere mortals, maintaining 70-80 strokes per minute for hours on end just isn’t gonna happen."

in the short term it probably won't work who knows in the long run if this change is implemented now. Sure it takes a great shape to paddle at that rate, but won't practicing at that rate be a good way to get in shape as well ? I sure would like to see a top Hawaii crew emulate the "Shell style" for the long haul and have the patience to see what would happen in a few years time.

#34 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 5:38am

"good enough shape to actually make it work" hits the nail on the head. Performance in endurance sports benefits from a high cadence, spinning in cycling, stride rate in running, and strokes per minute for paddling. But it takes a very well developed cardio vascular system plus an inherently high VO2max to be able to pull it off.

Guys who can put enormous power down at 60 strokes a minute won't necessarily be able to adapt to 70-80, just as guys who are efficient at 80 might never make the #1 canoe at 60. Different strokes, different body types.

To be competitive against a crew like Shell might take more than just hard training (and lots of it), it might take a whole rethink of the body types in the crew

#35 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 6:09am

Like I said, paddle easy, "for most crews". I'm sure if a top crew, say Pa'a, commited to the Shell style, they could make it work. For your typical recreational/slightly competeitive/like beer alot people, it would be pure torture! I agree w/ Jibofo. The body-type would matter a lot. Shell looks like most of the guys are about 5'10", and powerfully built, to say the least. Did you see the guns on the tatooed guy? Scary.

#36 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 6:19am

Hitting together is less important that engaging together (if you watch the Tahitians you'll see this).

One is visual - the other is "real".

#37 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 6:58am

I don't quite understand that statement " Hitting together is less important that engaging together". Anyway, it was a hard race to say the least, imho being my first crossing. I well definetly race again next year if we have a race. Maybe Shell should sponsor seeing how the race needs a major sponsor.

#38 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 8:09am


if you train 3 times a day - ripping apart the front of the stroke at a higher rate happens naturally. I listened to Manutea and Bruno - it sounds like one can get irratated quickly with paddlers who arent at the same fitness level or timing isnt as good. this is where shell differentiates itself from a club team who will 'build' lesser fit paddlers through a season and probably be a little more patient.

what is the model that is used to support this type of Shell team? Business. The business of establishing a brand (Shell) deeply within the community. I look around at the super wealthy hotel corporations and individuals in Hawaii and I wonder if they could start contributing to Hawaii sports & culture like Shell does for Tahiti. For example, Team Hilton Waikiki, paddlers can work at the hotel, train 3 times a day, and be right on the water - they can educate tourists about paddling - Hilton could host the after party, paddlers would stay there.


#39 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 8:23am


I really like your thoughts.

I agree that some of the hotels on Oahu don't get it. However I have to remember that they are run by corporate on Mainland.


Large popular hotel near finish line and ala moana mall.

I figure tourism down all over the islands 30% to 40% it will be easy to get deal on rooms for group of friends who want to stay and party on Oahu for night.

1-regular room double bed-159 plus tax and other BS

What if I reserve 10 rooms-price 159

What if I reserve 20 rooms-price 159

I explain to manager that the paddlers will probably drink and buy plenty in bar, drink and buy plenty of coffee, and buy stuff from lobby store, because too tired to walk any where. All local guys and gals, price 159.

We stay somewhere else. I ask workers of that hotel when I walk by if they are full- they say it is dead no one here.

#40 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 8:41am

Penny wise, dollar foolish. You got to wonder how some of these huge operations ever made any money in the first place, now that their view is so short sighted. Like in Kona J's example. If the hotel had agreed to let 20 rooms go for a bargain, that's 40+ people eating and drinking in their restaurant/bar, and more important that's 40+ people telling other people,"we stayed at ..., they gave us a good deal".
So, no deal, no money made at all, no goodwill, no word of mouth advertising, no brains!!!

#41 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 8:58am

K, Kona J, Jibofo great points. Wish there was a closer partnersihp between the hotels and athletes in paddling. Not sure how it is for marathon and other big sports.

It would have been interesting to see what would have, could have happened had Karel Jr. been in the first crew. It would have been a much closer race. I wonder then if we would go back to talking about the Hawaiian stroke versus the Tahitian stroke. I think the bottom line comes to training, and training together for the timing and conditioning.

Traditionally, the canoe paddle has been thought of as a third class lever arm but aside from lever classes, but which lever class is defined depends on the reference framework from which the person is discussing. Heres another class for you (Physics 674) - it would seem that much more important than that in the team aspects of this race is the force vectors that contribute to the forward propulsion of the canoe. The cumulative quantity of the summation of the vectors should be much more relevant and consequential to the speed of the canoe.

Namely, cos(theta)=F2x/F2 or that the magnitude of the x-component of the vector F2 is given by F2x=F2cos(theta). Similarly, sin(theta)=F2y/F2 or that F2y=F2sin(theta). If we take the differential of the integral from F2x to F2y...

OK, ran outta chalk board space but ya get the idea. I still think the Hawaiian stroke is more efficient if we define "mechanical efficiency" as the least amount of stroke to gain the max amount of distance (refer to calculus equation above), leaving aside the energetics of the biomechanics movement. The synergistic effect of the team contribution outlies the importance of training and training together as one - six paddles - one voice,


#42 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 9:21am

anyone know of any clubs or coaches in Hawaii that uses and trains with the Tahitian stroke ?

#43 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 9:48am

i suggest u refraise ur statement kama

#44 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 9:50am


ride smooth - not powerful?

#45 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 10:10am

Sorry Ryan D, No offence to you or to anyone on the first crew. From a personal stand point - I have to admit, I admire Karel Jr. from the success he's had with a OC-1, so as far as the factoring him in to an OC-6, it would have been interesting to see the outcome. Obviously, the depth of Lanikai goes deeper than just nine paddlers, and Karel is just one of the many talented men on the team, but I've always admired his skills.
Nuff said!

#46 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 10:24am

Great Reads....fun thread, keep it going. I'd like to throw my two cents in here. Was not going to post, but what the hell...

Eck - Hah?? That Physics stuff, way over my head. Very interesting though. Will continue to read it and try to interpret it.
jc9 - had a chance to see the tahitian blades up close in New Zealand, then Sacremento. They all use shovels. The men, women, and kids. The women blades were bigger than the Kialoa I use.
Rambo - As usual, steady posts. Mahalo for trying to interpret Ecks physic's post for us layman guys. Notice I said layman and not stupid guys.
K - ditto your comments about Lanikai and family. They put out a solid effort even though they had to balance family and work. I love your idea about some major hotel or corporation getting behind some team. Although it would totally kill paddling as we know it and send it up to the professional level (ie., Shell, OPT), Tahiti has risen the bar and we need to respond.
Kevlon - Tahitian paddling school, where do I sign up?? I would do it in a heart beat.
KonaJ - Excellent post on the hotel room scene. No make sense yeah. Hotels would have scored big time on the event. Instead, they scared the paddlers away. Could it be that paddlers and partying have bad reputations?
Kamamakakau - No way Jr. would have helped make the race closer. At that level, no matter how good that person is, no way he cuts into that 13 minute gap.

If there were no Tahitians in the race, Lanikai wins by 13 minutes. Hats off to the Lanikai boys. You know what the scary thing is?? From what I saw at the World Sprints, the Tahitian youths coming up will provide an ample supply of top notch paddlers to feed Shell, OPT and whomever else in Tahiti.
That is scary.

Tahitians say they not coming back next year. Why should they? They came....they conquered. Now, if we like beat them, we have to go to Hawaiiki Nui. And that my friends, is the true World Championship of paddling.

I think Hawaii will be sending a team. Good luck, go get'em. Hope you do well down there.

Jaws Out.

#47 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 11:44am

I was wondering, has the fundamental techniques of paddling changed? In kayaking, the technology changed with the paddle blade design changed from flat blades to the wing designs that exerted a Bernoulli's effect on the blade as it moved through the water with the forward lift.

As a result, changes in the kayak stroke accommodated for this technology. For canoe paddling, the paddle design has remained fairly the same, so the fundamentals of the stroke remains the same.

The basic physics principles have remained true - positive stroke versus negative stroke. The differences can be seen in terms of stroke length, stroke rate, blade angle on entry and exit, and power distribution and magnitude through the stroke.

Can the class of the lever system change between canoes and between paddlers if they are all using the same paddle design and working against the same resistance (water)?

I propose looking at vector quantities as another perspective to understanding why certain crews are better. Aside from esoteric Vector Calculus, Three main concepts:
- the vector quantity as it applies to the forward propulsion of the canoe,
- The lift force
- The drag force

As Eckhart mentioned, the square of the blade in the water at vertical provides maximum forward propulsion of the canoe.

As the paddle moves through the water, the blade exerts other forces (i.e. lift, drag) that can facilitate or hinder the "efficiency" of the forward propulsion. I.e. pulling too far back on exit and over reaching on entry

When six paddlers are in a canoe, all paddling off timing or entering at different angles and with different power, the summation of those vector forces (quantities) will counteract each other. We've all noticed this in novice crews or people who haven't paddled together long enough to get in sync - it feels like paddling in mud - or the counteracting of vector forces. It sounds like the Tahitians spent a lot of time training together.

Its like six people pushing a car. If no one organizes a concerted push ( i.e. 1 -2 -3 -push), and everyone pushes at different times, the force exerted on the car is much less, thus moving less. If everyone pushes together, the sum of the force applied will exert more force on the car and each person expends less energy as a result. The paddling stroke is a little more complex since the blade angle changes throughout the stroke.

Likewise, in a canoe, when all paddles are square and reaches vertical at the same moment in time, each person contributes equal and less force required to moving the canoe. Hence, paddlers stay stronger longer in the race.

Rambo made a good point about the pole vault example which helps to visualize the fixing of the bottom hand and paddle in one point as the body moves pass it. The other point to caution will using the top hand the wrong way is the impact it has on the stroke length as the axis of rotation along the paddle shaft changes.

Too much top hand pushing with the extension of the elbow joint will decrease the time the paddle spends in the "square" portion or vertical part of the stroke - the vector force that contributes most to the forward propulsion of the canoe. As a result, to attain the same speed, stroke rate has to increase to compensate for the decrease in vector quantity at this angle.

Is there a Tahitian secret? I think its just they have more opportunities to train together and it seems they have the resources for eating as much as they want without the issues of financial constraints as opposed to any advantageous techinque. Six paddles - one voice. Or as someone put it - unity.

I simplified this a bit but thats my take. Take 2 :-)

This is a link to Vector Calculus and has absolutely nothing to do with my post:
It just seems interesting.

#48 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 12:53pm

Aloha Kama,
yes, i think the secret is UNITY, and Shell Va'a has it all to blend and click. the only team that could challenge them is the one that could have the same reality, live to train, train to race and then race to win as one without second.

an inspiration........

#49 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 1:18pm

Fascinating points once again , this forum really is a great resource of information, but I think its easy to overanalyse the stroke and "tahitian technique" as lovely as it is to watch.
I think the difference comes down to CULTURE versus RECREATION.
Take a really good soccer team from anywhere to Brazil for a match and see what the score is, or a good rugby team to New Zealand you will have to be so on your game and want to win more than them to be victorious
As someone said the next generation of Tahitian paddlers are looking even stronger.
I hope the Hawaiian teams do really well in the Hawaiki nui, they will if they want it bad enough.

#50 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 2:31pm

This point gets to the heart of it...... too much emphasis placed on "surfing da bumps".
Hey! Kelly Slater surfs, the Tahitians paddle

#51 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 3:38pm

Wakabonez, I don't agree with you mate - that is a gross oversimplication, and bit disrespectful to the efforts of some very good Hawaiian paddlers. Have a look at the times of the top ten teams - and see how far they were apart (putting Shell aside for the moment). Especially when you and I both know how much harder the Tahitians train...
Having said that, it is disappointing that Hawaii's state sport is supposedly Outrigger canoeing, and bugger all businesses up there get in and support it. I mean, it really is such a marketable sport - it emphasises the essence of Hawaii and being Hawaiian. Its disgraceful that the State government (or whatever it is called) does not kick some more money into it....
I think this discussion has been had before on this forum!!

#52 Wed, 10/15/2008 - 10:42pm


E=1/2 m v2 is heading in the right direction, but the "m" in this case is not the mass of the paddle but the "added mass" - the mass of the water disturbed by the paddle.

Added mass is dependent on the area of the paddle blade, the length of the stroke and the blade shape (convex vs flat vs concave).

Stroke rate is vital as well, not because of the amount of water disturbed within a given time but because the acceleration of the paddle is important.

The correct formula is

Force = added mass x acceleration (F=m' dv/dt).

Mulus, I don't know if a hole in the middle would help tracking, but a ridge down the centre of the power face (a dihedral) certainly does.

#53 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 12:55am

Yeah, what's up w/ that, Coc0nut? Is it true that there might not be a race w/ out some corporate sponsorship? That would be really sad. I think someone said something about Shell. Who's in charge of soliciting sponsorship? I realize he's really busy, but I nominate Manny K. He did an awesome job w/ the solo race, from what I've heard.

#54 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 3:26am

Most important person for any competitive event is your fundraiser. If you've got a good fundraiser, almost anything is possible. Unfortunately most people don't like asking for money. If you find someone who is good at it, do what ever you need to do to keep them happy.

#55 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 6:08am

Jibofo, are you good at it ?

#56 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 7:31am

If Shell doesn't come back for molokai hoe 09' then that's fine. Shell has proven that they are the best. Tahiti probably will send crews but not top caliber like shell. The only way shell will come back is if another crew breaks the record. I had the privilage to talk to some of the shell and opt paddlers and they asked why doesn't hawaii put together 2 maybe 3 solid hawaii crews to send to hawaiki nui. I said there are alot of elite paddlers from hawaii that could make 2 maybe 3 solid crews takes alot of work to organize plus sponsorship and family obligations as well. Were always guessing what secrets the tahitians do. what better way to find out but to go down to tahiti and race......

#57 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 8:34am

Every year, some tahitian teams come to Hawaii... Amongst them, Shell and OPT are the omny one "sponsored". All the others find ways to ways to pay for their participation... and they also have family and work obligations...
If tahitians can make it to Molokai, I don't see why hawaiians can't come to Hawaiki Nui.
Plus, we would be very happy to see you there. Hawaiki Nui is a big event. Not only about sport. It's also about sharing.
You sleep and eat with the other teams, during a whole week.
Come and see...

#58 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 10:05am


I think alot of clubs talk about going to Tahiti, but get worried about the logistics.

So can you walk us through it.

Fly into?
Borrow canoes? Who would be contact?
Fly out of?
Race rules in English?


#59 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 10:18am

RatchetJaws - the principle is 'energy conservation'

The 'potential' (=stored) energy is what you have available - your power, wind, wave/gravity.

You are trying to convert potential energy into 'kinetic' (= movement) energy.

Part of the potential energy will get lost due to many factors: friction related resistance, wave related resistance, wind, paddler's movement. rock, roll.

The desired energy is movement energy directed forward, along the axis of the canoe.

Efficiency is to reduce the energy losses and transform as much as possible energy into forward motion.

Example: to turn your head during the race to look around you need energy, and less energy is available to be transformed into forward motion.

My general idea of paddling is to reduce motion as much as possible, just allow motion that gets the blade into an optimal position and pull.

capnron thanks for pointing that out; it will be the area under the velocity/time curve that matters. Rowing research suggests that a square shaped area would be ideal. That means, start your pull with your max pulling velocity and keep that velocity until you exit the blade.

#60 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 10:35am

Only contact you really need is FTV.
Fédération Tahitienne de Va'a
B.P. 50339 Pirae - Tahiti - French Polynesia
ph. (689) 450544
fax (689) 450546
They can arrange things for canoes (find a club willing to rent one), for housing (if you are OK to stay in classrooms with tahitian teams)
For the flights see there
For the rules in english, I don't know if the FTV has sdone a translation, ask them. If not, I can help.
Meet the tahitian teams in Hawaii during Molokai and arrange partnership between clubs... Sonny Bradley helps the Tahitian teams. When team Bradley come to Tahiti, He has a canoe waiting for them... That's friendship. Come and make friends. Then your next time will be easier.

#61 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 10:39am


Besides the cost of getting down to the tahiti, I think one of the reasons for Hawaii paddlers not participating in Hawaiiki Nui is....or should I say...was...arrogance. Hawaii paddlers think they are all that.

Well, guess what. Shell/OPT/Venus/Pirae and whomever else might have finally knocked some sense into Hawaii paddlers and maybe knocked the chip off of our shoulders. And yes, until they get down to tahiti and experience Hawaiiki Nui, they don't know the extent to what really drives the tahitian paddlers. After Hawaiiki Nui, the Hawaii paddlers will understand why Molokai Hoe is just a cake walk for tahitian paddlers.

There is no reason for Tahiti to come back to Hawaii. The world championship of paddling runs through their doors, and it is in Tahiti at Hawaiiki Nui.

We should start a new thread....what will Hawaii need to do to be successful and beat the tahitians in hawaiiki nui. Beating Tahiti in Tahiti should be the goal of Hawaii's elite paddlers. The Molokai Hoe is dead. Shell Wa'a put the last handful of dirt on grave. We should put our tails between our legs, go on the porch, and watch the big dogs play. We definately cannot run with the big dogs now.

Jaws Out.

#62 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 10:59am

Ratchet you sound like a defeated old wind bag right now crying from atop a milk crate. The Molokai Hoe's dead? What were you saying when Off Shore was winning? It's a phase in the cycle... it's Shell Va'a(s) turn right now... well, Tahiti's turn. Give them there due credit, but don't give into loosing from now on because they're kicking everyones ass right now. To give up on your people like this is disgraceful. Hawaiin paddling will dominate again, and yes I believe a hawaiin crew will challenge at hawaiiki nui in the future. It's not going to happen over night though.

On a side note one paddler can make a difference in the overall performance of a crew... that's just a fact. You don't think Kai changing crews this year made a difference?

#63 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 11:46am

Sounds like jaws got some weak sauce going on. Are you one of those guy's who complain that the big clubs win everything during regatta season? Pack your lunch and carry your balls cause I'm not gonna give up on hawaiian paddlers.

#64 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 12:37pm

I don't want to argue about why hawaiian don't come to hawaiki Nui. All I'm saying is that if Tahitians can find ways to go to Hawaii. It is probably not more or less difficult for hawaians to come to Tahiti...
For those willing to come, you can get all the info and help needed from th FTV. (see previous post).
If you're short on money, just come with 6 men. Anyway, half of the teams do it Iron... or with just 7 or 8 paddlers for the 3 days (even if you can register as many as 15 paddlers).

#65 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 12:53pm


Glad I got you guys to respond. Trying to stir things up. It's a slow day today, so want to have some fun.

Look, I ain't giving up. I am old, and I am a windbag..weak sause?? I can still bring it EZ, anytime. But, I want the young guys, our top guns to start thinking beyond Molokai Hoe, thats all. Molokai Hoe is no longer the World Championship of outrigger paddling....Hawaiiki Nui is. (Right Hiro?) Until we can wrestle the title back from them, that is where is will stay.

Come on young ones...meet the challenge.

Have a nice day all...I welcome the knocks, bites, whatever, keep them coming. When you old, nothing bothers you.

Jaws Out.

#66 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 12:53pm

No, I'm no good at fundraising. I used to put on one of the biggest and richest bike races in the U.S. The major reason why it was such a success was the guy who was in charge of fund raising was unreal. He could get donations out of a starving homeless person.
I wish he was still around. There's no telling what could be pulled with someone like him raising money for oc races.

#67 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 1:26pm

True dat Jaws,

All of us (California, Australia, Hawaii, Canada, etc...) have to ask ourselves if we want to step up to the challenge that Tahiti put forth.

If we say yes Hawaii, then changes have to be made, starting with how we organize ourselves. For example, Hawai'i cannot compete if we dilute ourselves into clubs and get involved with the yearly distractions a club provides. Maybe we could in the past, but not any more. All focus for elite paddlers has to be towards the goal and the goal alone, whatever that goal may be. That's just a simple fact.

About the Moloka'i Hoe though, it is still the championship of six-man outriggers. Why, because it has more of a tradition/history than the Hawaiiki Nui, more crews from around the world participate in it, and finally because of Uncle Nappy (nuff said about that).

Humble pie is good every so often though. I eat it all the time!!!!

#68 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 1:35pm

I am with Humble pie. At the end of the day it is the taste you admire most.

#69 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 1:33pm

Jibofo, I was just asking because we have the same problem here...
How come we all think money and sponsorship can help our sport grow, how come we all think a sponsor could gain profit for sponsoring us, and at the same time we find it so difficult to ask for money ?
Maybe we should see it this way : we don't go and ask for money, we sell them something, call it advertising, public image...

#70 Thu, 10/16/2008 - 1:51pm

Please register or login to post a comment.

Page loaded in 1.322 seconds.