Monday, March 9, 2009

[oc6] Open Water Turns

More great advice from Another View from Seat 6 (available as a word doc here) by Jerry Franklin, this time on open water outrigger race turns:

Turns often provide a challenge during the races. The rule states that any inside boat that has overlap (i.e., has any part of the canoe ahead of any part of a leading canoe) has the right of way [1]. The reality is that unless you know and have confidence in the other canoe’s steersman and can communicate with him/her, it is not worth taking the risk of hitting and getting tied up with another boat even if you have the right of way. You may win a protest if the other boat doesn’t give way, but the boats that pass you from behind while you are trying to get untangled will still finish ahead of your boat, and the boats ahead of you will get further ahead.

You can’t control everything that will happen in a race turn, but you can plan what you are going to do in advance (and, I mean, way in advance). By checking the boats around you and determining where they are likely to be when you hit the turn, you can plan where you want to be and begin setting up your position long before the turn. Turns are of different angles and take place in a variety of conditions so there is no one perfect way to execute all turns. Where the turn is fairly severe (i.e., a course change of close to 180 degrees), a wide approach with a tight exit works well. But each turn calls for a somewhat different approach and exit, and other boats entering the turn at approximately the same time will determine your best angle of entry and exit. [2]

  • [1] Knowing and having experience with other steersmen is important. The good ones will work with you to avoid problems. Sometimes that might give you a little advantage, sometimes it will give them a bit of an advantage, but it will always help both boats/crews in the long run. Remember, part of being a good steersman is staying out of trouble and sometimes that means working in cooperation with other steersmen.

  • [2] In my experience, most steersmen try to turn the boat too sharply thus slowing it down and having to correct severely to straighten out at the end of the turn. I prefer a less severe turn which keeps more boat momentum and lets the boat more naturally come to the correct course. However, if the crew is concerned that the boat is not coming around fast enough, they may try to “help” it turn when it actually would be better for them just to paddle forward and let the boat turn on its own. They need to know what you are doing or trust you to do the right thing.
A little incident recently made me fully understand this rule as it was intended - the key word is overlap. I thought for some reason the inside canoe had to be ahead (ie it's nose was in front of the outside canoe).

Alan Q. - Five Islands OC6 Regatta - Wollongong - Sun 18 Jan 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Steering an Outrigger Canoe in the Wind

Another View from Seat 6 (available as a word doc here) by Jerry Franklin:

Conditions such as the wind, tide, swells, and water depth all influence movement of the boat.

For example, the boat will normally head into the wind.

So if you are going north and the wind is from the Northwest the boat will tend to turn left toward the wind.

Knowing this will help you anticipate what you will need to do to keep the boat on course.

In these conditions, keeping the boat on course will require poking on the right or drawing on the left (simplified version).

And, if the boat drifts slightly to the right, you should anticipate that it might self correct and not require you to do any course correction. Note that the stronger the wind, the more the boat will be pulled toward it.

The boat also will move more into the wind if the wind comes from the ama side than from the right.

Strong Finish - Pacific Dragons Mens A Crew - Five Islands OC6 Regatta - Sun 18 Jan 2009 (picasa)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Avoiding Stall Outs in an Outrigger Canoe (OC1)

An OC1 Tip by dmehling from Surfing Technique at

Another major thing I learned was to steer around stall outs. By this, I mean that you need to anticipate when your canoe is in a situation where if you keep going, you are going to stall out (i.e. burry your nose into the wave in front of you, not have enough umph to carry you over that next bump, or when you are going to miss a wave and have it pass underneath you). Whenever I feel my boat is about to stall out, I steer around that stall out (usually right to keep the ama down-wave) and keep as much momentum as I can.

By steering around stall outs, you can change the angle of your canoe relative to the waves and prevent being completely perpendicular to the wave. When you “see-saw” (i.e. your boat is perpendicular to the wave as the wave rolls under you), you lose all your speed as the tail will not release until the nose starts to point down again, lifting the tail. By the time that happens, you have lost all your speed and missed a wave. If you don’t do something different, you’ll likely miss the next wave too.

Instead, try to steer right or left so that your canoe is at an angle to the wave. By doing this, your tail won’t get sucked down as your nose goes up. Your tail will release sooner and you’ll maintain more speed, allowing you to catch that next runner instead of missing another bump.

In short, steer around situations where your nose is going to be pointed up instead of down. Avoid going “nose up” any way you can; you’ll surf faster and link more rides.

Whosus (picasa) - Balmoral Saturday Open Water Session (more here) - Sat 04 Apr 09 (PD's Photo Album)

Whosus (picasa) - Balmoral Saturday Open Water Session (more here) - Sat 04 Apr 09 (PD's Photo Album)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Outrigger Steering: Three Basis Rules

From So Now You Want to Steer an Outrigger Canoe by Brent Bagnall:

There are three basic rules to remember when steering:
  1. It is always better to understeer than to oversteer.

  2. Steer to paddle, don’t paddle until you have to steer.

  3. Always give back what you take away

Pacific Dragons Men's Crew - Five Islands OC6 Regatta - Sun 18 Jan 2009 (picasa)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Outrigger Canoe Steering Basics (OC6)

From A History of the Moloka‘i Outrigger Canoe Race (page 113):

"I like to break down steering into three basic elements.

  1. The How to Steer (basic technique).

  2. When to steer (when you steer and when you paddle), and

  3. Where to steer (course selection).
As a steersman, you have to learn whether you are going to go where the ocean is taking you or whether you going to direct the canoe in a direction it does not want to take."

Tom Connor TV Interview prior to 1996 Race.

Five Islands OC6 Regatta Wollongong - Sun 18 Jan 2009 (picasa)