Recreational Paddling - Technique

Technique is based upon two principles, culture and tangible activities

 Canoe Etiquette:

 It is believed that canoes have a life, each has a distinct and separate personality in the ocean.  The canoe is a integral part of the team and carries paddlers safety into the ocean and home again.  Keauhou Canoe Club expects all paddlers to treat canoes with respect and do not take them for granted or treat them discourteously. 

 Do not sit or lean on a canoe except in a designated seat area once the canoe is in the water.  Canoes are fragile and care must be taken in all aspects of paddling.  When canoes are lifted, be sure the ʻama and iako (outrigger) portion of the canoe is supported off the ground.  Canoes should not be dropped or touch the ground during launch or recovery. 

 Do not step over the body of the canoe, if a paddler needs to move to another area, walk around the canoe.  This is a gesture of courtesy to the canoe to do so.

 Swearing or angry words have no place in the canoe.

 Canoes are to be addressed by their proper Hawaiian name.  Steersman commands may be in English or Hawaiian and responsibility of the paddler to understand each of the commands used in paddling.

 Loading and Launching Canoes:


The paddler process is managed by the Steersman, also known as the captain of the crew and not on a first come first serve basis.  No paddles are to be placed in the canoes to reserve seats. 

 Keep your paddle in your hand while the Steersmen organize crews.  Steersmen balance crews by assessing paddling experience, size, age, seniority, pleasant dispositions, swimmers, strength, endurance and expected pace of paddling session.

 Double Hull canoes are organized first, single hulls will be filled according to criteria listed above.  A standardized procedure is used to launch and recover canoes.  Steersmen are well versed in the procedure and communicate with the crew throughout the process.

 Teamwork and Timing:

 Crews function as a team and optimal results are achieved when paddling together as one.  Steersmen dictate pace (stroke rate) of the canoe which are  adjusted based upon water/weather conditions, crew capabilities, location and other factors.  Crew members follow the lead of Seat #1 known as the Stroker who paddles at stroke rate dictated by the Steersman.  Timing is essential, synchronize stroke to mirror the Stroker, follow commands for changes and direction from the Steersman.

 Paddling Stroke:

 Outrigger paddling incorporates various types of strokes, speed and technique, adaptability is key in order to ensure the crew and canoe are synchronized during a paddling session.   Follow instructions of the Steersman and other paddlers to adapt stroke rate and style.  Paddling in an outrigger canoe is far different from other types of water sports such as river paddling and kyaking.  If you have experience in other water sports please inquire with other paddlers or Steersmen as to what type of stroke is used in outrigger paddling.   


 Paddlers should be prepared for the canoe to ʻhuliʻ or capsize in the water.  In the event of a huli, paddlers should be able to wime or tread water for a minimum of ten (10) up to thiry (30) minutes.  Your Steersman is experienced in huli recovery and will direct the crew in righting and bailing the canoe as a team.  See the following video  regarding recovery from a huli.

 Huli drill video