Ok…I broke down and had to give it a try. Randy Strome and Kainoa Beaupre, this is your fault! After a number of hard core stand up paddlers started training on OC-1 (one man canoes) I had to give it a shot. Since 80% of the guys I know paddling OC-1 ride the Kamanu Composites Pueo, I borrowed a friend’s canoe and paddled in a 6.7 mile triangle to start. I started at Kaimana Beach and paddled upwind (15 mph wind) to the Diamond Head buoy and then downwind/sidewind to the Ala Wai buoy and then back upwind to Kaimana. The route is normally 6 miles or so but since I was going crooked and zig zagging a lot it turned out to be 6.7 miles. My time was 1:15…not fast but not bad for my first time.
I’m pretty blown away at how the Pueo performed upwind. It wasn’t very hard to paddle into a 15 mph headwind. On my SUP race boards it is painful paddling into a headwind, especially with my body acting as a sail. Sidewind and side headwind are also not a problem on a Pueo. This now fills the void where I don’t have the time or transport for a full downwind run but want to get in a workout, especially when the wind is blowing and the waves are small. Paddle upwind, downwind and back in an hour or so while catching bumps and not struggling to paddle upwind. Pretty fun so far and a good workout.
I initially made it to the Diamond Head buoy without falling. After the buoy I was feeling pretty confident and fell around 8 times after that. The Pueo’s rudder was much more responsive than the steering systems on SUP racers. I had a tricky time not over steering. It is at least 2 or 3 times easier to get this OC-1 up to speed over a SUP. The weird thing is that my top and average speeds were about the same as on my SUP race board. It was between 5 – 6.5 mph or so. The big difference is that the OC-1 requires much less effort to make it move and keep it going.
I think the OC-1 training will definitely help my technique and stroke. You can tell almost immediately if your stroke is working or not based on whether the boat moves or bogs down. This is really helpful. Sometimes short quick strokes worked better and sometimes the deeper, more powerful ones were more effective. Time in the boat will help this.
The downside to the OC-1 is when you flip over, it’s harder, longer and takes more effort to get back in the canoe and get back in gear. Also, my left butt cheek went to sleep and I started to get some rash from the friction of my surf shorts from moving around in the seat. Other than that, this is a super addition to paddling training and downwind improvement. Because it’s easier to get up to speed and make the boat move, you can see the bumps from a different perspective and get into bumps that would not be possible on a SUP. I definitely need more time on it to get it dialed in and really reap the benefits.
A couple days after my first experience, I borrowed another friend’s Pueo after my 6 man canoe practice. I paddled in light winds from Kaimana to the Ala Wai buoy and back. It took about 45 minutes. I fell only once so that was reassuring to me. I was now getting really anxious to do a real Hawaii Kai downwinder.
I finally got in a downwinder with Doug Lock from Wet Feet the next day. Doug rode his Naish 17′ and I rode the demo Pueo that I borrowed from Luke Evslin over at Kamanu Composites. I rigged the boat really heavy on the ama so that I would be much more stable. I was worried about falling over a lot during the run. (note: rigging heavy means the canoe leans over to the left to lessen the chance of the ama coming out of the water and flipping the boat over).
From shore to the Hawaii Kai buoy it took me about 7.5 minutes which is roughly the same as on my SUP. The wind was blowing around 10 – 15 mph so that left fairly calm conditions and made it easier to balance. Doug was in front of me in the channel and kept in front until around Black Point. My time from shore to Black Point was 51 minutes which is in line with a good SUP time. I was having trouble over steering, choosing bumps properly and figuring out my stroke. The funny thing is that just after Kahala the conditions got worse and the tide started backing up into us and the wind started dying out. Those conditions become harder on a planing hull SUP but on the Pueo, it’s where I started to pick up the pace. I definitely need to get better at bump riding with a canoe.
From Black Point to Kaimana is where this boat shined. It took me 22 minutes from Black Point to Kaimana when it normally would take me at least 30 minutes on a SUP. The last part of the run where the wind becomes a headwind was no problem in the canoe. That made a big difference. My final time from shore to Kaimana was 1:13 and from the buoy to the windsock was 1:05. It would have been fast for me on a SUP but it was slow for an OC-1. I’m still pretty happy with the time and the fact that I didn’t fall over once. My butt was really sore from sitting but I think that will get better over time.
I think the winds are picking up over the weekend so it’s time to get back on the SUP and see if the OC-1 and 6 man canoe training is helping. I’m having a blast mixing up the paddling with OC-1, SUP and 6 man canoe. I’ve also been getting a lot of great tips from very accomplished paddlers and I’m working to get some video tips of these guys to share.