How to Start Outrigger Canoe Paddling

Outrigger canoe paddling is a popular water sport in many countries around the world, but in Australia, it is a relatively new sport. In 1978, on the Gold Coast, the Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing Association (AOCRA) was formed, and the first club in Sydney was formed in 1989.

The rules and regulations in Australia are based on the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association formed in 1908. Outrigger canoe paddling began in the cultures along the Pacific Rim many years ago. These canoes are the reason the ancient cultures survived and transmigrated.

The associations today recognize and respect the cultures and heritage that originated these amazing canoes.

Outrigger Canoe Paddling

Outrigger canoes come in three main sizes that seat four, six, and 12 paddlers. The role of the paddler is the same for any size. This water sport is a team effort that requires training and precision. Endurance and upper body strength are also important to gain the speed needed to win races. Each person in the boat will have a responsibility including the stroker, steerer, and paddlers.


Paddlers sit near the center of the canoe. They should be the strongest members of the team. They need very strong biceps and triceps as well as back muscles. The paddlers’ main responsibility is to achieve the highest speed possible for the canoe.

The stroker sits at the front of the canoe and also needs to be very strong but needs endurance even more. The stroker is responsible for setting the pace and maintaining a consistent and dedicated effort. This position is the most tiring.

The steerer sits at the very rear of the canoe and has the responsibility of keeping the canoe on a straight course. They must be able to manoeuvre the canoe from left to right.

When the canoe is ready to start, the paddles should be simultaneously inserted into the water. Each paddle will be on the opposite side from the person in front of him. For those who are less strong or are just learning how to paddle an outrigger canoe, it is best to sit in the back half of the canoe.

Also, when the paddle is on the left, the right hand should be on the tip of the paddle and the left on the bottom. If the paddle goes in the water to the right, the left hand should be on tip and the right hand on the bottom.

How to Become a Strong Paddler

To start outrigger canoe paddling it is necessary for a person to strengthen his or her upper body. It is important to prevent any injuries and develop the muscles through a system that prevents muscular imbalances. Outrigger canoe paddlers often get injuries in the rotator cuff.

When the muscles are strong, there is more endurance and power that gives more force for each stroke which will increase the speed of the canoe. Resistance exercise helps endurance as well as sprint athletes enhance their performances and also helps prevent injuries.

How to Start Paddling an Outrigger Canoe

There are many different ideas of what constitutes good paddling technique, but one thing everyone agrees on is that everyone in a canoe should have the same technique. There are basically six phases to good paddling. The set-up phase positions the paddle before it enters the water.

In the entry phase, all the blades of the paddles are pushed cleanly into the water at the same time. The pulling of the canoe does not start until the next phase. In the catch phase, the whole paddle is in the water and the pulling commences. The power phase is the point where the paddlers pull with power.

The exit phase starts when the paddle blade reaches mid-thigh to hip. Keeping the blade in the water after this point only causes drag. The recovery phase is the last phase where the paddle returns to the set-up phase.

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