Additional Info about Outrigger Canoeing


“OC” stands for “outrigger canoe.” The designation “six” means that it seats six paddlers. The fiberglass canoe is about 40 feet long, with two arms that reach out to an outrigger, called an ama, on one side.

Paddlers in an OC-6 are arranged single-file by size and paddling strength, with the biggest and strongest paddlers near the middle of the craft. The Seat 1 paddler sets the paddling pace, and the Seat 2 paddler is the secondary pacer. Seats 3 and 4 hold the team’s most powerful paddlers. The Seat 3 paddler is also responsible for the ama, leaning toward it if necessary to keep it in contact with the water. The paddler in Seat 5 also watches the ama, and the Seat 6 paddler steers the craft.

Paddlers in recreational OC-6 paddling typically take about 45 to 50 strokes per minute, enabling the craft to travel about 5 miles per hour. Paddles are bent-shaft models of wood or synthetic design, much like the paddles used by recreational canoeists. These boats are perfect for windy weather and to get you out in the waves.​


  • Origins: Outrigger canoes have their origins in the Austronesian peoples’ maritime cultures, who migrated throughout the Pacific Ocean, spreading from Southeast Asia to Madagascar, Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and as far east as Easter Island.
  • Traditional Use: Traditionally, these vessels were used for transportation, fishing, and exploration, playing a crucial role in the Austronesians’ ability to spread across the Pacific Islands.
  • Cultural Significance: In many Pacific cultures, outrigger canoes are more than just watercraft; they hold significant cultural and historical importance, often involved in ceremonies and traditional races.


  • Hull: The main hull (or “vaka” in Polynesian languages) is typically narrow, which helps in cutting through water efficiently.
  • Outrigger Float (Ama): The outrigger float provides stability to the canoe, preventing it from tipping over.
  • Spars (Iako): Rigid beams connect the ama to the main hull, maintaining the structure’s rigidity and balance.
  • Paddles: Similar to those used in stand-up paddleboarding but often tailored for outrigger canoeing efficiency.


  • Paddling: Paddling techniques in outrigger canoeing are refined and specific, with a focus on synchronicity and efficiency in group paddling scenarios.
  • Steering: The steerer or helmsman uses a larger, steering paddle and is responsible for navigating and controlling the canoe’s direction.
  • Crew Coordination: In multi-paddler canoes, coordination and timing among the crew are essential for speed and efficiency.


  • Community and Teamwork: Outrigger canoeing is often a group activity that fosters a strong sense of community and teamwork.
  • Physical Fitness: Provides a full-body workout, emphasizing core stability, upper body strength, and endurance.
  • Cultural Connection: Engaging in outrigger canoeing can connect individuals to the rich traditions and maritime heritage of Pacific Islander cultures.

Outrigger canoeing offers a unique blend of physical challenge, teamwork, and cultural immersion, making it a cherished sport and tradition in many coastal communities around the world. Its popularity extends beyond its traditional roots, appealing to enthusiasts looking for adventure, fitness, and a deep connection with the ocean and its history.