Outrigger Canoeing: The Lotus Ironman race on Burrard Inlet with Gung Haggis paddlers

Outrigger Canoeing: The Lotus Ironman race on Burrard Inlet with Gung Haggis paddlers

Outrigger canoes waiting for the race
start with safety boats, at Lotus Iron Races, Barnet Marine Park in
Burnaby, BC – photo Dave Samis

I like the beautiful glide of an outrigger canoe, whether solo, double
or six-person.  I liken paddling in a solo outrigger to taking out
a sports car compared to riding in a bus of a dragon boat.  When
you paddle solo in a canoe, you can really feel the effect of your
blade on the movement of the boat.  You really become “ONE” with
the boat.  The following story is from Gung Haggis paddler Dave
Samis, who raced in the Lotus Sports Club Iron Race on July 1st,
2006.  I love the colour of the water in the pictures…. they
remind me of Hawaii…. sigh…. – Todd

Outrigger Canoeing: The Lotus Ironman race on Burrard Inlet with Gung Haggis paddlers

Special Contribution from Dave Samis

Two Gung Haggis paddlers climbed into a six person Hawaiian outrigger
canoe to race in one of the Lotus Iron races. The calm water of Burrard
inlet sparkled under a blue cloudless sky on July 1st as Gail Thompson
and Dave Samis paddled with a Lotus Sports Club outrigger team.  The 11km race is 22 times longer than a 500m dragon boat race.

Outigger canoes are sleek sexy canoes, with a pontoon or “ama,” on one side,
connected by an “iaku” in Hawaiian language.  These boats are
perfect for riding the surf and give good stability where there are big
ocean swells.

For the race start, the six person outrigger canoes (OC6s) line up and
wait for the green flag.  No horn – flags, a red at five minutes
then a yellow at one minute and finally the green and go.  The
start is sort of similar to a dragon boat start with 6 long hard
strokes then a series of short fast ones followed by reaching out for
the rest of race strokes.

Outrigger canoes waiting for race start – photo Dave Samis

Timing is essential, like in a dragon boat, and technique is
very important (not that mine is that good).  Paddlers paddle on
alternating sides in outriggers, These races are long and so you
couldn't paddle the whole thing on one side, because of this, every 15
strokes everyone switches to the other side on the call of the person
in the third seat.

Outrigger races are also different from dragon boat races in that you
don't stay in a lane (it's much too far) and it really helps if the
steersperson can read the water, understanding the currents that
develop with tide changes and where the water moves fastest.  This
can add minutes to your time.   For instance, if the tide is
coming in, the inlet, it will be faster in the deep water and much
slower along the shore.  If you are going the same way as the tide
you want to be in deep water and if you are bucking the tide you want
to be near the shore.

Heading North into Indian Arm from
Burrard Inlet – you can really see the pontoon and ama on the outrigger
canoe. – photo Dave Samis (from a safety boat – not while he was
supposed to be paddling!)

Saturday, the OC6s raced north from Barnet Marine Park, and after a few
kilometers, they circle around Boulder Island and head southwest
towards the North Vancouver shoreline, past Cates Park and the
lightbeacon (much much smaller than a lighthouse) and across the inlet
to the McBarge (remember it from Expo?).  Then they race straight
back for the final three kilometers to Barnet Marine Park and the
finish line. 

Our OC 6 took an hour and 5 minutes to do this which put us in sixth
place (fifth place after one boat was disqualified).  We didn't
win anything but weren't last either.  Gail and I paddled in a
Lotus team in which the other three paddlers and the steers are Lotus
members.   Another Gung Haggis alumni paddler, (Craig Brown)
competed in another longer race, a 17 K race at this same event, and
came first overall!  

– story by Dave Samis

Outrigger canoe race at Lotus Sports Club, Barnet Marine Park – on land before the race – photo Dave Samis

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