August 26, 2013
Every other August we take our entire shop to Kaua'i for a quick, well deserved vacation. It's our bi-annual chance to recuperate from the daily grind of building canoes. It's not a strategy session or even about team bonding. We go with no motivation other than to have fun with our co-workers in a unique place. In 2009 we rented a cottage on the beach on the west side. In 2011 we camped for two days at Poli Hale. And, this year, we rented a remote cabin at 4,500 feet in Koke'e State Park. We hiked, surfed, dove, played frisbee, drove (a lot), and, of course, we paddled. There to capture the action were our two resident videographers: Makana Denton and Kaoru Lovett. Thanks to them, we now have a chance to spend the next two years watching this video before we go on our next trip.
August 19, 2013
Over the last five years we've posted about almost every paddling topic imaginable. We've covered a variety of races, talked about training, explored the history of unlimited canoes, clarified why we do, what we do, and even touched upon the taboo subject of surfing in an oc-1. However, there has been one glaring omission: stroke. The most fundamental part of canoeing hasn't even been mentioned on our website. Get paddlers together in a room and it's all you'll hear them talk about. Wars have been fought over less. More important than training, canoe design, and surfing combined, your stroke will determine whether you win a race or come in last place. The topic is so important that we've been too intimidated to broach it. But here it goes. For better or worse, this is our take on THE STROKE.
Every coach has his/her own version of the perfect stroke. Everytime that I talk about stroke, I do so in a hierarchy of importance (and debatability). There are two things which I consider the most important and the least debatable. Rather than get into the nitty gritty of arm position, exit angle, etc., I am just going to focus on those two fundamentals: the catch and rotation.
The purpose of an effective catch is to make sure that you're literally moving the canoe passed your paddle, and not the paddle passed the canoe. Your catch happens at full submersion, but your stroke starts at the moment of impact with the water. So, the way that you get from impact to full submersion determines the effectiveness of your catch. Our goal as paddlers should be to get the stroke completely buried as far forward as possible. The less the angle of your blade changes from impact to full submersion, the more effective your stroke is going to be because your paddle will act as an anchor that you're propelling the canoe passed. Practice standing in waist deep water with your paddle or have someone hold onto your canoe. The only way to get an efficient catch (no turbulence, white water, or noise as you pull) when you're stationary is if you bury your blade at exactly the same angle that you hit the water. As soon as you pull your bottom arm (therefore changing the blade angle) before submerging the blade, you will cause turbulence through the rest of the stroke. Whereas if you drop your bottom shoulder into the stroke so that the angle of your paddle at the entry is identical to the angle of your paddle at full submersion, and then transition into driving through your bottom arm when your blade is completely buried, you will notice that your stroke is not only silent, but it's going to be much harder to pull the blade back. The exact same principle applies to a moving canoe, the only difference is that the water, relative to you, is now moving. So, instead of the blade angle being identical from impact to full submersion, you are going to lose some angle as you drive down, but only enough to maintain your blades position in the exact spot of moving water that you initially hit. All of your energy from impact to full submersion is going into lifting the canoe (as you drive down, the canoe comes up). So, if you use the momentum of your blade from the air and transfer it into the water, you can have a high intensity hit that transfers into an effective and powerful catch. You will know that you're doing it correctly when your stroke is silent and you feel resistance in your top arm.
The more rotation you have, the more power your stroke will have. Rotation comes from two points, your hips and your shoulders. Both of them have to work together in order to be effective. Shoulder rotation is relatively easy to learn and it allows you to active your entire core. You want your bottom shoulder coming as far forward as your body can twist and you want your top shoulder coming back. The goal being to face your back towards whatever side you're paddling on. Hip rotation is much harder, but, effective hip rotation will activate your lower body. As your forward butt cheek slides forward on the seat (during your recovery), your forward leg will naturally bend. Then, as you bury your blade and apply pressure, you're now able to effectively push off of your forward leg. But, more so than just being an efficient source of power from your body's big muscles, rotation will give you more positive angle on the blade. The more positive angle you have, the more lift you will create in your stroke causing your canoe to run more efficiently.
Put both of those concepts together, and you have the workings of an efficient stroke. With an effective catch and a large rotation, you will undoubtedly start moving your canoe faster than you ever have before.
For some clarification, see the pictures below:
Moment of impact with the water.
- Positive angle on the blade.
- Both arms fully extended (though not locked).
- Shoulders rotated to their maximum.
- Minimal loss of angle on the blade.
- Body has come down a few degrees on the entry.
- Hips rotated to maximum.
- Leg drive initiates.
- Bottom shoulder dropped forward.
Exit as blade angle turns negative and initial power from entry wanes.
Email a quick video (taken from someone moving at the same speed as you on the same side that you're paddling on) of your stroke to email@example.com and we'll be more than happy to do a free stroke analysis for you.
July 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call at (808) 228-8609 if you need more clarification.
July 07, 2013
Aloha and New York City aren't normally used together in the same sentence. But that is exactly what the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge is. Much more than just a canoe race, New York Outrigger Canoe Club puts on a festival of Aloha, Manhattan style.
After emerging from the humid bowels of the NYC subway system you arrive at the race site at Pier 26. The backdrop is New Jersey, the Freedom tower, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. In the foreground is a massive concrete platform extending into the Hudson river. Every inch of Manhattan is bustling with activity and the multicultural atmosphere of the city makes unusual sites common place so most passerby's wouldn't even give the pier full of outrigger canoes and tradeshow tents a second glance. But to us, after spending four days outside of our comfort zone wandering the city, that pier felt like home. Finally after nearly a week of taxis, museums, hipster bars, pizza, and hot dogs, here was something that we understood. Twenty canoes sat on the pier and for the first time all week, we knew exactly what we were supposed to do.
In order to maximize the small amount of outrigger canoes on the East Coast, the women, men, and mixed all race separately. So the race organizers have created a festival to go along with the race. While your friends are out waging war on the East River and the Hudson, you get to hang out on the pier and do what paddlers do best: talk story. The Liberty Challenge, true to the spirit of Manhattan, is probably the most diverse of any outrigger canoe race. There are teams from South America, Canada, Australia, California, Europe, Hawai'i, and, of course, all across the East Coast. You can move seamlessly from talking about traditional Panamanian Cayucos (ama-less canoes) to hearing about what it's like to scrape ice off your OC-1 in London to the best way to navigate a loch in the North Eastern rivers. But, the best part of it all is the hum of activity surrounding you. A Manhattan based Hula troupe performs all day with intermissions filled by slack key guitarists; there is a trade show; and, the best part, there are twenty massage tables just waiting for willing patrons.
However, at some point you need to actually do the race. Though there were many times where we forgot it, racing is why we traveled six thousand miles from Hawai'i nei. The race goes down the Hudson, around the tip of Manhattan (called the Battery by NYC locals), through the Brooklyn Bridge to a turn buoy under the Manhattan Bridge, then out around Governor's Island to another turn buoy in front of the Statue of Liberty, down past Ellis island and 5.5 miles up the Hudson. The big circle of New York harbor insures that you get a little bit of every type of condition. Off of the battery can feel like a mini Makapu'u run, heading up the East River into a 3 knot current feels almost like your standing still, then when you make the turn you fly down the river at 10mph into a small surf run from the Statue of Liberty back into the Hudson. The most exciting part of the race, other than the epic scenery and unpredictable currents, is the fact that you are literally paddling a canoe in the busiest waterway in the world. Massive ferries, barges, speedboats, cruiseships, freighters, and tour boats are flying all around you. To get a sense of the madness, imagine the water traffic outside of Waikiki, multiply it by 1000 and add in a written law that commercial traffic has the right of way.
After the race, the organizers go one last step and put on a New York style Lu'au on a floating barge that doubles as a bar. Hula dancers perform with the sun setting over the Hudson river and New Jersey skyline in the background. Spam musubi, kalua pig, and kim chee are the meal. And, as all good parties in Manhattan, there is an open bar and standing room only. By the end of the evening, after a very full day, you feel as if the race organizers have thrown you in a pot, mixed in some Polynesian spirit, a little New York controlled chaos, and a lot of Aloha and the result is an incredible experience that you can't get anywhere else.
Check out this short video of our experience. Team Kamanu consisted of: Makana Denton, Justin Watts, Alfred Van Gieson, Keola Wright, Manny Kulukulu'alani, and Luke Evslin.
March 24, 2013
It's begun. Production on the new Pueo is in full swing. Well-- technically we're operating at 3/5s of capacity as we get our second mold operational, but it feels like full swing. Unfortunately we had some preliminary production bugs which pushed us a few weeks behind schedule. While we're hoping to get back on track as soon as our second mold is operational (approximately one month), the first fifteen orders are going to be approximately two weeks behind. If you're on the list and you were quoted with a March of April delivery, you will be getting a call from us shortly. Since we're running behind schedule, all our capacity is going towards customer and team canoes. So we won't have any stock canoes or demos available for at least one month. As of today, the wait list is out until late September. Thanks for your support and patience. Start keeping an eye out for the 2nd generation Pueo on the water.