taking off rudder?

Hi everyone,

I'm shopping around for my first oc1 and would like to buy used since i'm a beginner. Ideally, i would love a rudderles since i'm an adaptive paddler and cannot use the rudder anyway. i'm wondering how taking off the rudder on an oc1 would affect the performance of the boat? Alternately, how would leaving the rudder on without using the pedals affect the performance? The boat i'm looking at right now is the Fusion but am keeping my eye out for any others that pop up on y2kanu & craigslist. i'll be paddling mostly north shore (oahu) side.

Thanks for any help!!

Submitted by lea on Wed, 04/22/2009 - 12:06pm

I think that leaving the rudder on, (maybe fixing it in place?) but not using it would make for difficult steering/control, especially if you haven't paddled one-man too much before. Maybe fix a very small rudder in place of the regular one?
If you're planning on removing the rudder anyways, though - just go rudderless.

#1 Wed, 04/22/2009 - 12:22pm

Think that a rudderless V-1 tracks better than on OC-1 with the rudder removed. goto's idea of fixing a small rudder makes sense, but ideally a canoe designed to be rudderless is going to work a lot better than trying to modify an OC-1. Unfortunately, not a lot of used V-1s available in Hawaii.

#2 Wed, 04/22/2009 - 12:33pm

Fusion not a good boat to paddle rudderless.
Check out the Tiger rudderless canoes.


#3 Wed, 04/22/2009 - 1:00pm

Yep Fuze man....highly recommend the Tiger rudderless. Paddled it in Sacremento...its a dream, nice boat.

#4 Wed, 04/22/2009 - 1:11pm

If you don't mind me asking. How are you adaptive? There were 2 people where I paddle that were both missing one leg and they rigged up a boat with a rudder that you could steer from one pedal using a bungee on one side of the rudder t bar. So holding the pedal in the middle you would go straight. pushing pedal turn one way. pulling pedal (put a strap on it) would turn you the other way. Hopefully that may be helpful to you?

#5 Wed, 04/22/2009 - 1:53pm

Enclosed cockpit of rudderless would present difficult remount
for adaptive paddler, not a good idea but nice try...

However I saw an adaptive paddler in Surfski championship
- in a surfski! He attached two cables to his kayak paddle and was able to steer his boat . I assume the rudder had some "friction" built in since the cables were not taut all the time.

You can rig up kayak paddle like that untill somebody figures
out how a hand lever like "airplane stick" can be adopted for the purpose.

#6 Wed, 04/22/2009 - 2:00pm

Besides the bunji which works great, you can also switch to a more rigid control cable for one sided operation too. does not need constant tension. Email me if you want more info on this. 2nd vote for a tiny ( fixed ) rudder acting more like a skeg if you decide to go with the Fusion or other. Lea, are you o.k. with the seat ?


#7 Wed, 04/22/2009 - 2:12pm

thanks for all of the advice and comments!!

i did paddle the Tiger Tevanui at the world sprints & loved it! however, it's pretty impossible to find those here and i can't afford to order a brand new one right now.

nb1376--i use a wheelchair & can't use my legs too much. i don't think i could even reach pedals, lol.

onnopaddle--i would prefer more of a deep cockpit (like the tevanui has) but have found most oc1s have a higher seat. thankfully i have great trunk control/balance so I think i can get away or adapt to a higher seat.

any other ideas/comments welcome! i may forget about the Fusion for now and wait to see if anything better suited for me shows up.

thanks again

#8 Wed, 04/22/2009 - 4:15pm

Unless it is a windless flat day, you'll have trouble paddle steering any type of a canoe out on the North Shore. The water is very choppy with strong current, and unless it is summer, staying close to shore, to avoid the wind, could be tricky. You'll have to confine your paddling within the protective harbor or the river at Haleiwa. Also, paddle steering requires considerable amount of skill to be efficient and will require quite a bit of practice. But it is worth it, for you'll be able to steer your canoe on one side and not toss your paddle around like a baton, the way many of the SUP paddlers do. Look around for a short canoe that has a lot of rocker, so you can easily steer and make corrections with your stroke.

#9 Wed, 04/22/2009 - 5:19pm

I know the Kamanu Composites guys are coming out with a V1 pretty soon. Maybe give them a call and see if what they're schedule is with that. Will definitely be better than a regular canoe without a rudder. Either way, best of luck with whatever you end up with.

#10 Wed, 04/22/2009 - 8:55pm

maui kanu...
removable rudders. hear they are coming out with an OC1 that surfs that is meant to be paddled rudderless. just an inside rumor from a friend.

#11 Wed, 04/22/2009 - 10:51pm

"An OC-1 that surfs?" Well, there use to be this OC-6 steersman that loved to surf her rudderless Honu Kai OC-1 off Waikiki back in the early '90's.

#12 Wed, 04/22/2009 - 11:49pm


The V1 is obviously designed to go rudderless... but if you can't find one in Hawaii, I wouldn't be afraid to paddle an OC1 without the rudder or one with a very small rudder (but stick to flat water for a while).

I would try a boat with less rocker (like a Hurricane) and paddle it without the rudder, or try a more rockered boat (I think the Fusion should be fairly rockered; I've never paddled it though) with a very small fixed rudder.

Either one is going to be hard to steer for a while... and as a beginner you will have to get good at flipping the boat over again (trust me I know) but just get one and get on some (flat) water and practice...

#13 Thu, 04/23/2009 - 10:19am

I was forced to learn how to paddle rudderless on those long Tahitian style lagoon canoes, because they only came without rudder. Although they tracked very well, they were hard to turn, especially in windy chop. So that's why I recommend a canoe with rocker in the beginning, for they are easier to steer and turn in the wind. Later with experience, you can paddle the straight no rocker canoes or even take a 6-man out by yourself.

#14 Thu, 04/23/2009 - 12:58pm

... take a 6-man out by yourself.

Not sure I'd want to do that. ;-)

#15 Thu, 04/23/2009 - 1:05pm

thanks all for your advice!

any thoughts on the naia vs. the fusion in regards to rocker/rudder/steering? these seem to be the two that i see a lot on craigslist.

#16 Thu, 04/23/2009 - 1:39pm

Fusion would be a nightmare w/ no rudder. Most oc1s are not designed for rudderless use.

#17 Thu, 04/23/2009 - 2:01pm

Lea, the boat will huli easier without the rudder as I am sure you know, one idea i tried was a training ama, Here is the thread and some pictures, http://www.ocpaddler.com/node/3290 Jane Witaker has some similar ideas, If you have not spoken to her you should, she will be a huge help. Another boat to consider would be a Sealion or pac 24, it is a cockpit style, and it would be easy to set up a dual ama, (think sailing rig, One ama runs normal, one in the air) The sealion has is a longer boat with little rocker and waterline, and tracks pretty well without rudder, you can get them in So Cal for anywhere from 500-1500 bucks.

#18 Thu, 04/23/2009 - 3:02pm

Yeah Hiro, you no can graduate until you can paddle out to a certain buoy in a 6-man by yourself, turn around it, then turn around it again, going backwards, and then paddle back. I use to have lots of fun paddling a 6-man by myself going round and around an island in Pearl Harbor working on paddle steering technique.

Lea, I've only paddled the Naia rudderless, but I'm sure both canoes would perform satisfactory in flat water. I belive the Naia use to be the designated canoe for the World Sprints in Hawaii many years ago until the Tiger canoe came along? In '01 Anuenue rudderless race, which was won by a Hurricane, I used an old Honu Kai canoe, which easily turned around the buoy located outside in the Kaiser Channel where it was windy and choppy. The canoe had a thick foam pad, which I could kneel on and steer better (some paddlers dragged their left foot in order to steer around the buoy). You could probably pick up a working Honu for less than $1,000.00 or maybe even less than $500.00 if it needs work? I wish I could try out an old Viper or Mantra rudderless and see how they perform.

#19 Thu, 04/23/2009 - 11:35pm

Definitely talk to Jan Whitaker is you don't already know her. Here's her website:


She tends to keep pretty busy but is definitely a great resource and does an amazing job with her adaptive paddling program. I believe she has two Outrigger Connection Fuzes she has used for adaptive paddlers, but I'm not sure to what extent their mobility was impaired and what type of modifications she might have done to them. There are photos from 2007 of the OC-1s being paddled at her annual sprint race in Rochester, NY.

#20 Fri, 04/24/2009 - 3:21am

Gee, there's got to be some form of custom tiller system that can be fitted to utilize the rudder? At least something better than the pedals, which can be nudged a little to turn the rudder, and yet allow the rudder to return automatically to the straight position? Or a long tiller handle like the paddleboards?

#21 Fri, 04/24/2009 - 9:54am

like something more like a k1 has with the bar that you have to nudge, but somewhere accessible with hands, how could we go about doing this? any ideas?

#22 Fri, 04/24/2009 - 6:09pm

anowara--jan whitaker definitely knows a ton about adaptive paddling and it looks like even some of her paraplegic paddlers are paddling the fuze. i'm emailing her now about how it runs for them w/o using the rudder. i'll keep you all updated!

#23 Sat, 04/25/2009 - 10:40am

Paddling without a rudder and using the paddle to steer is an acquired skill, which will require considerable amount of practice to become efficient at it. It would also help to receive expert instruction on the art of paddling without a rudder. There are so many styles, that you'll have to adopt a style that fits you personally. There is more to paddling than just paddling straight ahead. In flat windless water, you can paddle most OC-1s, even if you only have a garden spade to use. The trouble begins when you venture out of Haleiwa Harbor into the wind current and waves. There, you'll probably be able to paddle into the wind for a short time. However, it is when you paddle parallel to the wind or downwind that the canoe becomes unruly. I looked at the Whitaker site, and it appears that the paddling takes place on flat or small chop water, and maybe going down river. Now paddling down river is easy, but going up river is a challenge, for I always end up on the rocks and cat tails.

#24 Sat, 04/25/2009 - 12:45pm

Perhaps the best thing about not having a rudder is you don't have to worry about damaging it in shallow water. Oh what fun I had today practicing my tecnique (going back and forth) along the break water wall fronting the Ala Wai boat docks. But now I'm paying for it with aching muscles.

#25 Wed, 04/29/2009 - 11:54pm

Ive been putting in some time on a rudderless. You really feel it in the upper back from the different style of paddling and I find im intensely locked in on the water like on a big downwind run. All concentration. A really great lesson on water movement every time I go out on it.

Even if you dont want to get super into paddling a rudderless canoe, try getting out in one a dozen times or so and just see how that improves your oc1 skills. I think its that good.

#26 Thu, 04/30/2009 - 12:52am

What about cutting a hole in the area just forward of the seat re route the cables up through there and just forget the foot pedals. Once the cables are re routed glass back in the piece you cut out. Attach the cables to a wheel or T piece so you can reach between your legs and adjust for steering. Make some sort of clip that locks the rudder wheel or T in the forward position as you will want to go straight most of the time. Cut the rudder down to half or two thirds of its original size so you can still do minor direction changes whilst the T or wheel is locked in position.

It's not a lot different to some of the steering systems on paddle and SUP's.

And if you want to go to alot more effort, make a extension that comes up to midrif height set up so you can nudge it left or right with your elbow whilst your paddling, a little steering dampner on it so it stays in place till you nudge it again.

I have the design in my head, if you really want me to extract it for you send me a pm with your email address and I'll draw it for you.

#27 Mon, 05/04/2009 - 1:11am

All I know from paddling a V1 and my Zephyr rudderless is that no matter how similar they are they are still very different canoes and do not handle the same at all especially in a cross wind.

For a purpose specific comparison like sprinting it's kinda like comparing non-alcohol beer to the real thing.

Love the Zephyr though....

#28 Tue, 05/05/2009 - 12:05pm

or marathon runners to 100 yard sprinters

#29 Tue, 05/05/2009 - 6:58pm

I'm having the same issue t3 para.... I've adapted an epic sport surf ski... added a high seat back & an alma...

My first races went well though steering the boat is a pain... the more power I put down.... wind... makes it difficult. Having to stop paddling to correct steering. ug. I'm thinking of doing a remote servo controller in the paddle ( left/ right buttons) ~ servo motor to turn the rudder... I thought I'd get some input

#30 Mon, 08/09/2010 - 11:06am

Just thinking out loud here ... Apologies as I do not know everything about you ...

A "joystick" or tiller between your legs ?

Let the "comments" rain down .... Thought about it but this was the best way I could pose the question.


#31 Mon, 08/09/2010 - 12:20pm

there is hope... i just talked to a local canoe builder last night who is working with Aka Hemmings to create a servo controlled OC-1. no foot pedals needed, just controls on the paddle as was mentioned earlier in this thread.

#32 Mon, 08/09/2010 - 2:20pm

The first year of the Super Aito, I believe it was 1992 or 1993, Walter Guild and I were invited to Tahiti to compete in the race. At that time the race was from Moorea to Tahiti, about 17 miles. Walter and I used borrowed local canoes which were not first class, but we did not consider ourselves first class competition, so did not complain about our equipment. The Super Aito committee paid for our plane fare and housing so we were just happy to be there. Walter, being the stronger paddler, took an early lead on me but we were both in the back of the pack. About half way through the race I realized that something was wrong with my canoe when it became increasingly difficult to steer. As we got close to Tahiti harbor and started the final run along the shoreline, the canoe became impossible to steer and I had to stop forward paddling and uni the canoe to face the direction I needed to go. I had to repeat this process every few minutes since the canoe would not respond to J strokes, S strokes, Q strokes, or Y strokes. I wanted to give up numerous times but my stubborn pride kept me pressing on. When the race was finally over, Walter beat me by a few minutes and their were about 10 Tahitian paddlers behind me so it was not a complete disaster. When I got the canoe on the beach it was impossible to lift it and we found out that there was a leak in the rear portion of the canoe and that it had steadily filled up with water. There was a bulkhead sealing the cockpit from the front and rear compartment so whatever water leaked in could not be bailed out from the cockpit, (bad design).
I guess the moral of the story is that the only way to improve your skills on the Tahitian V-1 is to spend many hours at it like the Tahitians do. Walter and I stayed at Lewis Laughlin's house on this trip and he won the race by a huge margin. Needless to say, after many post-race Hinano's, Lewis thought it was hilarious at how inept Walter and I were since we were considered to be the top paddlers from Hawaii at the time. Large dose of humble pie.

#33 Mon, 08/09/2010 - 8:18pm

I have no idea what this thread is about, didn't read it. Just stopped in cause I saw TC had commented. Did just read the last paragraph. Pretty sweet TC. My theory is there's always someone better than you. In my case its most the human population.

#34 Mon, 08/09/2010 - 10:06pm

My custom nimbus touring sit ski has a friction lever mounted on the side of my seat & rudder tension spring (simple) which works great for that boat.... its a cruiser.....

I have seen some great examples of control levers between the legs though I could just see myself ending up in the hospital after doing a re-entry....

jc9 I'll send you my email can you put me in touch with your friend many thnx

~I eat Humble pie for break fest.... living through tragity opens ones eyes... boya Its not always the hair that wins the race.... see ya on the water

#35 Tue, 08/10/2010 - 9:45am

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