Rigging your Pueo

Posted on Jul 18, 2013

The rigging options on a Pueo can get a bit overwhelming. You have the choice of three settings for the front and unlimited settings for the back. Meaning that there are basically an infinite number of ways to set up your ama. Ask around before the start of a race and you will invariably hear at least one new rigging theory from every person you ask. There are as many opinions on rigging as there are custom Pueo on the water. The most common question that we get here at Kamanu is "which pin hole do I put the front 'iako in?" And our answer is always unsatisfyingly the same: "it depends."

Mainly, it depends on your weight. But it also depends on your balance and the type of conditions that you're paddling in.

The heavier you are, the lower the canoe is going to sit in the water and the higher, correspondingly, the ama is going to be relative to you. The lighter you are, the higher the canoe is going to sit in the water, and the lower the ama will be. Still with me? Try and imagine a cement truck pouring cement into a Pueo as it sits on the water. The heavier it gets, the lower the hull will sink but the ama, because it's not getting any cement, will stay high. At some point, once you've filled most of the canoe with cement (718 pounds to be exact) you'll have a canoe sitting under water with an ama holding it up. In this extreme example, the canoe started off higher than the ama (and leaning left), and as it got weighted down it went below the ama (and leaning right).

So, step one of rigging is to get the canoe approximately level based on your weight. You can use a level across the footwells, have a friend look at your bow from the front, or, as a last resort, just go by feel. If you're heavier, you're going to sink the back 'iako deeper (which leans the canoe left) to compensate for the fact that the canoe is leaning right. And, on the flip side, if you're light, then you're going to keep the back 'iako high (which leans the canoe right) in the ama sleeve to compensate for the fact that the canoe is leaning left. Make sense? Now here's where it gets controversial and complicated

By sinking that back 'iako all the way in, not only are you leaning the canoe left into the ama, but you're also pulling the back of the ama up which trims the nose down.

If you're barely putting the back 'iako in (because you're light) then the tail of the ama will be pushed down and the nose lifted high.

Which is why we have three settings (two on the original ama) on the front. Those three settings are to adjust the trim of the ama so that it sits relatively flat on the water (as it was designed). They should correspond roughly with where you're setting the back. If you sink the back most of the way down (180+ lbs), then you're going to utilize the bottom hole of the ama. Come higher than that (130-180 lbs), and you'll go to the middle pin. Take the 'iako nearly all the way out (less than 130 lbs) and you'll want to use the top pin. By following that basic guideline, you'll set up the ama to sit on the water as it was designed to.

However, there are a few other factors that come into play when you're rigging. If you're just learning, you'll likely want the canoe leaning left so that it's more stable. So, in that case you'll sink the back 'iako deeper. Also, if you're left leg or left butt cheek is going numb, it means that you're physically leaning left because the canoe feels tippy to you. So, in order to balance that out, drop the back 'iako until you feel comfortable (the deeper you go, the more stable the canoe will be). But, make sure that you work on your balance as the canoe is going to run best when it's level.

The last variable in rigging is the ocean conditions. If you're doing a run where the wind is blasting from your left, you may want to drop the back 'iako to stabilize the canoe. And, lastly, if you're doing a huge downwind run, you may want to rig the nose of the ama a bit higher, just to ensure that it's not digging when you're surfing. In that case, you can drop the front 'iako one hole down from what you usually use.

And that, in a verbose nut shell, is how we recommend that you rig your Pueo. Like all things paddling related, don't hesitate to email us at info@kamanucomposites.com or call at (808) 228-8609 if you need more clarification.