PLAY with the PROS: Outrigger canoeing

Writer Devon Gall takes to the waters of the Gorge to try his hand at outrigger canoeing

I knew I was in trouble when the coach had to help me put my life jacket on properly. I’m pretty sure he took it easy on me after that.

At first glance, I had serious doubts that my hockey-player physique would get close to fitting into the narrow, two-seat canoes at the Fairway Gorge Paddling Centre. But trying to follow coach Corey Teramura’s example – smoothly sliding himself from the dock onto the boat, he makes it look oh-so-easy – I dump myself into the seat, somehow managing not to dump myself into the water in the process.

Outrigger paddling is more challenging and straining on the muscles than I anticipated. Not only must you stay in sync with your fellow paddlers, but you need to mind the mechanics as well.

A life-long outrigger paddler and coach – their team has won every competition entered this season and is off this month to Hawaii’s 41-mile Molokai Hoe Canoe Race – Teramura started our session with a brief history lesson.

Outriggers played an important role in many different civilizations from West Coast First Nations, to the South Pacific people of Hawaii, Tahiti and Fiji, who used the hand-carved boats for war, fishing and travelling between islands.

Locally, about 500 Victorians paddle outriggers, designed to surf ocean waves, rather than calm inland waters. While dragonboating is typically a spring and summer sport, outriggers paddle year-round, with several hundred dragonboaters paddling outrigger through fall and winter.

Having never before put paddle to water, I was surprised one efficient swipe of the water comprised five distinct components, but I quickly learn you must master some semblance of all five if you want the canoe to move easily and swiftly.

I also learn about the “Mana,” in Hawaiian culture, the spirit, energy and respect that goes into the sport, including the people around you, your equipment, and theose who pour their heart and soul into creating the amazing work of art that is a canoe and paddle.

Picking up the canoe – much lighter than I anticipated – we set it gently onto the water and Teramura shows me how he slides smoothly from the dock into the canoe. My turn now. I’m not the biggest fan of water, or rather of taking an unexpected swim, but I’m game for a challenge.

Awkwardly plopping both cheeks onto the seat, we set off.

I try to match Teramura’s rhythm and remember the parts of each stroke. After nine strokes, I hear him say “hup,” signalling the “ho” to come on the tenth – it’s time to switch hands and alternate our paddling side.

After several laps around a protected area of the Gorge inlet, we decide it’s time for a sprint. My shoulders and arms are quickly exhausted, and I barely, if at all, keep up.

Realizing I’m completely gassed, we finish with a few leisurly laps around the docks, Teramura sharing more about this sport he loves.

Gliding easily through the water and toward the dock, I can see why.

Just Posted

Bill Gaston, Monique Gray Smith capture Victoria Book Prizes for 2018

Butler Book Prize and Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize winners collect $5,000 each

Canada’s country music sweetheart brings The Gumboot Kids to town

Jessie Farrell to perform songs from her hit CBC TV series at McTavish Academy of Arts

VIFF wrap-up: Finely crafted films part of festival finale

Monday reviewer Kyle Wells puts a cap on his 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival experience

FILM REVIEWS: Race relations, refugees and racy romances featured at VIFF

Monday reviewer Kyle Wells presents round 2 from the Vancouver International Film Fest

An eye for art: The new and the notable at fall’s premier arts event

Sidney Fine Art Show shares wealth of Island talent Oct. 11 to 13

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

INDY FILM FARE: 1970s hedonism and more at The Vic Theatre

From Studio 54 to Rocky Horror, there’s plenty of excess to observe this month

Shark-attack metal band coming to Victoria tonight

Shark Infested Daughters, a Calgary metalcore group, play the Upstairs Cabaret tonight, Oct. 13

STAGE AND SONG: Spotlight on Victoria arts groups

Learn about some of the city’s favourite theatre and musical entertainment options

Island lensman Jim Decker lands three top photography awards

During exciting photo trip to Yap in Micronesia, Cobble Hill man earns trio of firsts

Celebrate Oktoberfest Stein and Dine at the Victoria Public Market

Food, suds and German-style fun on tap at Oct. 20 event

Most Read