I have had the opportunity to jump in one man outrigger canoes (OC-1) on a few occasions over the years and began paddling the nimble ocean going paddle craft in earnest last summer. Paddling an OC-1 is an experience which will take you back to the foundations of paddling. An outrigger canoe is simple and pure. It glides, can be paddled upwind much easier than a SUP, and when it comes to downwinding, forget about it. Downwind paddling in an OC-1 is just on an entirely different level when compared to a stand up paddleboard. The speed and maneuverability of an OC-1 in the bumps is rivaled by only that of a surfski.
Outrigger canoes and the joy of OC-1 paddling
If you are interested in a brand from one of the hubs of OC-1 paddling, Kamanu Composites and their Hawaiian built canoes should spark your interest. Travis Grant, a name which is likely familiar to fans of SUP racing, is Kamanu’s top sponsored paddler and holds the title of 2016 Molokai to Oahu OC-1 Champion. The Hawaiian brand prides itself on building their canoes locally. “Materials come in and canoes go out,” states their website and they work towards the premise of sustainability in all aspects of their business model.
After paddling a few different brands over the course of my still short tenure as an OC-1 paddler my skills have thankfully progressed beyond holding on for dear life and praying I don’t flip [again] to polishing my stroke so can paddle more efficiently. The latter has seen significant strides as a result of regular early morning practices with my club in Redondo Beach – Lanakila Outrigger Canoe Club. I don’t own my own OC-1 and have been training on an old Kaimana owned by the club and have been fortunate to borrow a more contemporary model for a few races this winter.
Photo: OnIt Pro
The distinctions in how different outrigger canoes feel and perform has now become apparent and I was excited to dip my feet into the footwell of a Kamanu Composites’ Pueo X for the first time at the Cali Paddler Retreat 1.0. Visually, the first thing I noticed was the front and rear bungees on the X, whereas the canoes I’ve been paddling are limited to just a rear bungee system. As someone who is an adventurer first and a paddler second, the additional bungees game me an instant warm and fuzzy feeling. I like my gear and appreciate well thought out places to carry items.
I launched off the beach and accelerated my stroke rate to make it out through an oncoming wave. The Pueo X responded instantly and it’s nose pierced the white water forming on the wave’s peak as I blasted out through the impact zone. In contrast to the outrigger canoes I’ve become accustomed to paddling, the Pueo X felt noticeably softer. More like the luxurious ride of a Cadillac than the rigid performance of a Ferrari.
The Pueo X felt like a canoe I could spend an afternoon in chasing bumps and soaking up the sun. I paddled a mock course around patches of kelp in the ocean off Refugio St. Beach before practicing surfing the canoe on the clean afternoon waves.
The Pueo X has a longer waterline than the standard model Pueo (sometimes known as the second generation Pueo) and is ideally suited for paddlers under 190 lbs. Kamanu’s Pueo range comes in a few different configurations for different sized paddlers, shirking the one size fits all mentality.