It’s funny, but it was just after the most amazing standup paddle event I have ever done, the Olukai Ho’olaule’a, that I first became seriously interested in the tradition and beauty of sailing canoes. Returning to home town, Bend Oregon, the pull to be a part of the local outrigger team and culture kept growing.
Finally in early April the announcement came: The Bend Oregon Outrigger Canoe Club was having its wash-wax and launch with evening team practices to follow.
Yup, it had to be windy, cold and rainy – with a few snow flurries during that first week. You have to be tough to paddle in the Pacific Northwest! But the team spirit was warm and off we went, Ed and I stoked to be in seat 3 (Hut-Ho) and 4, Kialoa hybrid paddles in hand.
The rhythm of the entire 6 was awesome. We did hesitation drills and the lightbulb went on about how important it was to absolutely nail the catch for most power. We did just under 3 miles before our fingers were freezing – holy cow! I am hooked.
The second practice was 2 days later and the skies had cleared and the temperature reached a balmy 48 degrees. I was in seat 2 behind Jen Kjellesvik – ultimate river woman and powerful paddler (Adventure Fitness Bend – Jenn will be guiding SUP and rafting on the Rogue River this summer – story coming soon). Mirroring her body position and matching her recovery and set delivered some much-needed muscle memory over the 5 miles we enjoyed that evening.
As the sun set in Central Oregon (smack dab in the middle of the high desert) the Deschutes River became the connection to ages of outrigger tradition. (video here)
In between practice sessions here’s a technique video by KIALOA Paddles ‘Elele, Luke Evslin, that provides valuable insights for newbies and experienced paddlers alike. Standing up or sitting down, paddling seems to bring out the best in all of us! Grab your paddle and get on the water!