The Vernon paddling centre manual

This manual consists of the following sections:

Common Terms
Personal Equipment
Outrigger Seat Jobs
Communication Protocol in Boat
Tips For Beginners
Outrigger Technique
Surfski Technique
Exercises and Commands
OC1 and OC2 Usage and Care

Common Terms:

Gunnel - n. The upper edge of the side of a vessel.
Bow - n. the forward end of a vessel
Stern - n. the back or rear part of a vessel
Port - n. the left-hand side of a vessel
Starboard - n. the right-hand side of a vessel
Paddles up - the command to lift paddles to the "set" position
Take it away - the command to begin paddling
Draw left - the command for seats 1 and 2 to lean out to the left and pull the canoe left
Hold the boat - the command to put your paddle in the water and hold it there to stop the boat
Let it run - the command to stop paddling
Easy - another command to stop paddling
Ama -the outrigger float
'iako -the bars that hold the ama to the canoe

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Personal Equipment

A lot depends on your individual preferences, however, here are some basics you should consider:

PADDLE - The club supplies paddles to new paddlers.

DRINK - Paddlers should bring a small bottle of water or sports drink to carry with them in the boat.

CHANGE OF CLOTHES - A change of clothes and a towel are recommended

NEOPRENE - You'll see a lot of paddlers wearing neoprene (wet suit material) shorts. Neoprene is popular with paddlers because it minimizes chafing. Biking shorts work as well.

FOOTWEAR - All paddlers must help put boats in the water and bring them out. Early season, wetsuit booties, rubber boots, or running shoes and wool socks are recommended. Flip flops or sandles are good for warm weather.

GLOVES - Sealskin, waterproof, sports gloves or rubber for early season. Biking gloves for later season.

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Outrigger Seat Jobs

Seat 1 (stroke seat) sets the pace and the stroke. Seat 1 must maintain a good "feel" for the movement (glide) of the canoe, and adjust the pace accordingly. This means watching the water ahead, and paying attention to the feel of the boat. Seat 1 also changes the rate depending upon the conditions. This seat will often have a paddle 1/4" to ˝" shorter than the back seats.

Seat 2 is responsible to work with Seat 1 maintaining the timing of the boat on the opposite side. Seat 2 will mirror Seat 1 in timing and stroke length. Seat 2 should be watching the water with Seat 1 and quietly communicating with them to confirm how the boat feels, stroke rate and length. Seat 1 and 2 should establish short signals such as,"reach" for a longer stroke rate, "up" for increased rate, and others, as needed.

Seat 3 (in our club) calls changes and always is aware of what is happening around the canoe (in order to adjust stroke count). There will be times when the count must change - stay on one side to prepare for a turn, start sequences, riding waves, etc.

Seats 4 and 5 are to power the boat and maintain balance. Seat 5 may be required to assist the steersperson in difficult water. Seat 5 and Seat 6 must quietly communicate and work together. Seat 4 is also the bailer, as required and watches the ama in rough water. Seat 4 must also pass messages up the boat.

Seat 6.When the crew shoves off, Seat 6 is responsible. The first responsibility of seat 6 is crew safety; second - canoe safety; third is steering and navigation and fourth - keep the crew in time, focused and motivated. After that, Seat 6 is a paddler.

An additional responsibility of Seats 2 & 4 is to watch the 'iako. (Always lean back and out on the ‘iako whenever the canoe is at rest and be "ama conscious" when the canoe is moving.)

An additional responsibility of Seats 3 & 5 is to steady the canoe. Seats 3 and 5 must also pass along commands from the Steersperson, if necessary. The steersman is always in command of the canoe, however, everyone is responsible for the safety of the crew and the safety of the boat.

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Communication Protocol in the Boat

The Steersperson - This is the only person in the boat other than the coach who should be giving orders or directions. Only he/she calls timing, calls paddles up, asks for draws left, rate changes etc.

Five Seat - Five seat can quietly communicate with the steersperson to assist in guarding the Ama.

Four Seat - Can take over the count if three seat or six requests them to do so. Calls "Four bailing" when out to bail.

Three seat - Three seat calls the Hut for the team. Three seat may adjust the stroke count on their own choice based on preparing the team for a buoy turn or water conditions.

Two seat - Communicates quiet encouragement to one seat. Two seat will also pass on messages sent up from six seat via the back of the boat.

One seat - One seat does not need to talk to anyone other than two seat. He/she may ask two seat for advice on the feel of the boat or she may ask for a message to be passed back to six seat if she is considering a change that six should be aware of.

Are there times when we can talk to each other? It is appropriate to call out positive encouragement during a race or training session. Chit chat should be saved for water breaks, cool down and after paddling. If you are able to say more than two of three words while paddling you are probably not working hard enough.

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Tips For Beginners

JUST ASK: Don't feel intimidated or uncomfortable asking questions of veterans. We were all beginners. Veterans love to answer questions about paddling.

WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE READY: If you haven't paddled before, do not try to keep up with a veteran's pace and distance. If you are out with a veteran crew, don't kill yourself - take a break for a couple of changes even if the crew keeps going. Catch your breath and have a drink.

DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE STROKE RATE: This can take away from your enjoyment of learning the technique. Focus on technique, consistency and smoothness.

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Outrigger Paddling Technique

This is the style we are trying to develop in order to have a consistent club technique.

An outrigger is pulled not pushed through the water. To do this paddlers need to reach out, grab the water and drag the canoe forward. Most blades also have a bend (usually around 10 degrees, held with the blade bending away from the paddler) which increases the lift of the blade as it enters the water. This effectively pulls and lifts the canoe to decrease the canoe surface area and the water resistance. Lift is achieved by focusing power at the front of the stroke.

team work

The paddle should exit the water when it reaches the paddlers mid thigh to hip. Extending the stroke beyond this point decreases the lift generated and increases drag. Synchronized paddling; with all paddles entering and exiting the water at the same time and all paddlers using the same technique; provides the maximum pull and lift for the minimum effort. This can only be achieved through developing a consistent paddling technique both individually and as team, it requires practice.

Rotating from the hips allows paddlers to apply leverage and deliver maximum pull through the water. Twisting the upper body instead of using the arms utilizes stronger muscle groups and minimizes fatigue. This reach and twist motion requires flexibility. Locking the lower body and arms also results in less rocking of the canoe creating a consistent streamlined hull. Paddlers should maintain a straight line up the spine, twisting around this plane, with heads up and all in a row. The optimum degree of lean (forward) is influenced by the paddler. Smaller paddlers may use a dynamic approach where they lean forward a little (10-30 degrees) at the start of the stroke to increase reach and then straighten during the stroke to provide power. Others should focus on a static approach with minimum lean and no forward/backward body movement. Inappropriate lean increases lower back stress and should never be excessive, larger paddlers should always adopt a static style.

Paddling technique is continually under review and development. Consequently there are a wide range of differing ideas about what constitutes good technique, however everyone agrees that all paddlers in a canoe should have the same technique. The following Paddling Phases can be used as a general guide.

Set Up Phase

The stroke commences.

    -Maximum reach and twist with the paddle blade just out of the water.
    -Paddle blade perpendicular to canoe hull.
    -Lower hand around 1 hand width from the start of the blade face.
    -Top hand should not be outside the canoe.
    -Bottom arm with minimal bend and locked.
    -Top arm slightly bent and locked.
    -Leading leg (paddle side) extended and firmly planted. Offside leg bent under the seat.
    -Both legs (knees) braced against canoe to lock the paddler in.
    -Straight back, possibly a small forward lean.
    -Head up.
    -Basically your arms and shoulders should form a "big C".

Entry Phase

Plant the blade. Push the blade cleanly into the water.

    -Everyone at the same time.
    -Drop bottom shoulder to move arms down and drive the full blade into the water up to the neck.
    -Strive for a clean entry (no plonking) by maintaining the paddle perpendicular to the canoe and entering the water at the speed (horizontal paddle movement) of the canoe.
    -At this stage you are not pulling the canoe just getting the blade planted.

race start

Catch Phase

This phase commences once the full blade is in the water and can be considered as the preparation for the power phase. It delivers lift to the canoe and minimizes drag on the canoe. Pull the canoe through the water.

    -Start body rotation and apply pressure to the top hand, this moves the canoe forward and creates lift.
    -the paddle shaft moves toward the vertical and becomes fully anchored.

Power Phase

The blade is now aligned with the maximum surface area and the canoe is ready to absorb the surge of power. Pull with power.

    -Drive with the extended leg.
    -Rotate with locked arms.
    -Straighten upper body.
    -Focus on pulling the canoe through the water creating a power surge.


Exit Phase

This phase occurs once the blade reaches the mid-thigh to hip. Leaving the blade in the water past this point increases drag.

    -Everyone at the same time.
    -Rotation is complete and the blade is quickly removed from the water by rolling the shoulders to lift the bottom and drop the top hand.
    -Some bend naturally occurs in the the bottom arm at this stage.
    -There should be no power applied, focus on getting the blade clear of the water.

Recovery Phase

Return the paddle to the Set Up Phase.

    -Relax and recover.
    -Twist top wrist to feather the blade over the water.
    -Rotate back to the set up position, straightening the bottom arm.
    -* Keep bottom hand travel parallel and just off the canoe side.

Lemmy Lambert is the co-builder and designer of the Va'a Factory V1 and V6 in Tahiti. Lemmy at a 2 day Clinic demonstrating basic V1 Technique.

Watch more videos demonstrating great technique!

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Surfski Technique

-Coming soon!

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Exercises and Commands

There are many exercises which crews are expected to execute to improve crew efficiency or to accelerate.

These are a sample:

During the next change, only seats two and four will change over putting everyone paddling on the same side of the boat. This is for timing and technique practice. 1&2 – 3&4 SAME SIDE! Next change, seats 2 and 3 change only so that 1&2 paddle together and 3&4.

Seat 3 calls changes every four to five strokes to practice the change over specifically to keep the boat moving during the change and to keep everyone in time during the change.

Starting at the next change, bring the stroke rate up a bit and power up to 90%. This is known as race pace. Used when boat is slowing or to focus crew. Up for one minute, down for one minute; up for two minutes, down for two minutes, etc. There are a number of variations of this drill.

Seats 1-5 paddle with their eyes closed, keeping time only by the rhythm of the boat and the sound of the other paddles hitting the water. The crew must focus on the rhythm and feel of the boat.

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In Hawaiian, the word "huli" means to turn over.

If you huli your canoe

First and foremost, count heads to make sure everyone is ok. Seat 6 is in command and gives all commands.
Check for partners: 1 and 2; 3 and 4; 5 and 6. If anyone is missing, seat 6 will assign a paddler to take two lifejackets and search for the missing paddler.

Next turn the boat back over

Position the boat sideways to the prevailing swell.
Seats 3 and 4 position themselves over the hull on the side opposite the ama to help pull the boat over (stand on the ends of the iakos)
Seat 1 collects the paddles swimming front to back.
Seats 2 and 5 position themselves at the ama, push down on the ama and then lift the ama to help turn the canoe over
Seat 6 controls the actions

huli fix
When you have turned the boat over

Seat 5 gets back in the boat to start bailing
Everyone else should move to the ama side and keep the boat steady.
Trade off bailing duties until the boat is at least 75 percent dry.
During this time seat 1 should be putting paddles back in the boat.
When the water is about ankle deep get back in the boat from the left (ama) side and begin paddling (don't worry about finding the "right" paddle. At this point only seat 6 needs the correct paddle for steering. For now, seats 1,2, and 3 paddle, seat 6 steers, and seats 4 and 5 KEEP BAILING.

Note: If you need to switch paddles later, turn to your left (ama) side when passing paddles back and forth.

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OC-1 and OC-2 Usage and Care

Please carry all the boats and parts to the grass near the water for rigging. No matter how careful you are in the compound, you will end up scratching the boats on the gravel.

Place the boats so that the rudders hang over the edge of the grass towards the lake. The rudder is the most common thing to be damaged on these boats.

If you find the boat too difficult to carry alone, make sure you use the small cart provided in the shed. Strap the cart near the front of the Iaku mount and wheel the boat like a wheel barrow to the grass.

Please put the cart away while paddling as it may be stolen. Return the cart when you return for the ama.

Watch the rudders while putting the boats in and taking them out of the water. Rudders get damaged when they do not have enough water depth and someone climbs on the boat.

Never put weight on the boats when they are out of the water. They will crack like an egg. They are designed for strength in the water, not shore.

Notify a member of the executive of any damage or maintenance required.

Always use the sign out sheet provided on the bulletin board at the Nut Hut.

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The club will offer clinics on how to properly rig the canoes and we encourage everyone to participate. All paddlers should know how to rig a boat. If you get to practice and find your boat has loose rigging, you should take the initiative to re-rig the loose section.

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