Marina del Rey Outrigger Canoe Club

Knowledge => Paddler knowledge base (PUBLIC) => Topic started by: cho on November 16, 2012, 01:37PM

Title: OC1 Surfing
Post by: cho on November 16, 2012, 01:37PM
Good post from the Kamanu blog: (

The Demystification of Surfing an OC-1

As paddlers, we are obsessed with talking about stroke. Terms like catch and cavitation have become common place. Nowadays we even talk a fair amount about training programs and Periodization no longer sounds like a latin word. However, what we never talk about is surfing. Or, if someone does bring it up theyíre immediately shut down because ďitís all about feel and time on the water.Ē As Joe Biden would say: that is a bunch of malarky. Itís time to demystify surfing. As it goes with everything else in life; reading about the concepts wonít make you a pro, but it will put you on the right track.

Surfing an OC-1 is all about keeping the nose of your canoe facing down. If you watch a video of a top OC-1 paddler, the nose of their canoe is facing downhill up to 95% of the time. Now look at all the rest of us; our nose is facing downhill less than half of that. So, what this says is that the winners are essentially paddling downhill while the rest of us are just paddling down a bumpy road, or, even worse, paddling uphill. The best thing about outrigger canoe paddling is that we create our course. Itís not like riding a bike, where you are stuck with the track you have. Itís more similar to skiing down a set of moguls that are constantly moving. The best paddlers can anticipate the movement of the moguls and therefore keep their nose down, while the average paddlers just go straight down the hill and wait for the chance occurrence of a mogul moving out of their way.

Thatís it. Thatís all there is to it. Literally, the goal is to avoid the moguls.

So, how do you do that? Simple! Hang back. We need to get rid of the temptation of catching a wave and running down the face of it. While the winner of any given race should have the fastest average speed, I can almost guarantee that they donít have the fastest top speed. When you catch a wave, the goal is to milk that wave for as long as possible and wait for your opening. You do that by sitting on top and putting in just enough energy to keep the nose facing down. Often times youíll have to cut a hard angle either left or right to keep your nose from hitting the wave in front of you.

Now comes the most important part. Every time you catch a wave you need to put all of your effort (mental and physical) into connecting into another wave. It doesnít happen by chance, it happens by scouting your opening and getting to it. The mogul analogy is particularly relevant here, because at this point youíre literally going around the moguls. But, to take it one step further, youíre using one mogul to propel your canoe to another. The moguls are where two waves join together. Since weíre always going to have multiple swell directions, weíre always going to have multiple high and low points on a moving wave face. If youíre having trouble visualizing this, put your hands in front of your face, karate chop style. Now overlap your hands 90 degrees to each other so that they are creating an X in front of your face. One hand on top of the other with the pinky of your right hand perpendicular and resting on the pointer of your left. Hold that X and picture it as two swells coming together. Where they join they create a high point and in front of that point is a deep trough. As you travel further down the line of your hand away from the intersection, the power ebbs and the edge of the wave is absorbed by the ocean. Now, maintaining the perpendicular angle and keeping the pinky of your right hand touching the pointer of your left, slide your hands away from each other. The intersection point should move. Thatís whatís happening in the ocean. The peaks of two joining waves are always moving forward, and the low points (your connection areas) are constantly moving. Now, add twenty of your friendsí hands, turn those hands into ocean energy, and you have an average downwind run. Your goal is to understand where the intersections are and therefore where the highs and the lows are. So that every time you catch a wave, youíre looking for the low point of the wave in front of you so that you can paddle through it and into the next bump. The best part about connecting waves is that it creates a sort of slingshot affect. Oftentimes groundswells are moving too quickly to catch. So, by connecting, youíre getting yourself from a slow moving wave onto a fast moving wave.

To put it all together:
1) Catch the wave.
2) Put in just enough energy to stay on the wave, but avoid dropping into the trough.
3) Scout for an opening in the wave ahead of you. It could be right in front of you or it could be twenty feet to the right.
4) Once you find it, get to it. Some openings might require five easy strokes and a slight turn of the rudder, while some will require an all out burst of speed. Your priority is to get through the opening and onto the bump ahead.
5) Start again at #2.

It takes some time to understand that critical energy balance between dropping in and falling off the wave. It also takes time to be able to find the openings. Putting it all together takes a lifetime. The ability to surf is arguably the single most important aspect of outrigger canoeing. You can be in peak fitness with a perfect stroke, but youíll get obliterated in the surf if you donít understand the concept. Now, go take advantage of all this wind (if youíre in Hawaiíi) and go paddle downwind!
Title: Re: OC1 Surfing
Post by: monique on November 16, 2012, 01:54PM
Title: Re: OC1 Surfing
Post by: Joe on November 16, 2012, 02:20PM
Thanks  Cho
Title: Re: OC1 Surfing
Post by: cho on November 16, 2012, 02:22PM
i'd say ignore the whole hands in front of your face karate chop style analogy- that did not articulate well.
Title: Re: OC1 Surfing
Post by: tmathews on November 16, 2012, 11:32PM
Wow cho, that's fantastic!! Love the detailed description. I think you've forever changed the way I will look at the water. Can't wait for the next coast run. (Oc-2, boyfriend steering of course). Btw, Is it just me or did anyone else get a little excited reading that?   ;)
Title: Re: OC1 Surfing
Post by: MattE on November 17, 2012, 07:18AM
 ;D Tofu,

Great read.
Time in the saddle is paramount in downwind conditions, it's not even funny the vertical learning curve!

Getting Chuckacabra out today for some of what this article articulates...
Too bad there's only a 7-10 foot ground swell @ 7 seconds, winds to 35 mph, we need to pull a double dose today for some rip snorting, hooting and hollering fun!
I have diapers too.  ::) ::)

Title: Re: OC1 Surfing
Post by: Chuck G on November 18, 2012, 07:12PM
Second Maliko run today with Matt on my new scorpios XM what a blast 16 people in one pickup truck with trailer in tow one hour of pure downhill great time grate weather Amy not come back.


Title: Re: OC1 Surfing
Post by: MattE on November 18, 2012, 07:20PM
Great job today Chuckacabra!
Only went through a couple pampers as it dropped to a measly small kine 5-7 foot ground swell, 30mph winds.
Hooting, hollering, laughing giving each other shite... Great times.

Title: Re: OC1 Surfing
Post by: cho on January 03, 2013, 02:30PM
Good video. Same principles apply to OC1

Surfski Downwind Basics (
Title: Re: OC1 Surfing
Post by: Joe on January 03, 2013, 03:58PM
Thanks again.