Here I am at 66 buying a brand new OC1. Mad or not, it was a great decision. To translate the jargon, an OC1 is a one man waka, actually a one woman waka (or one man outrigger canoe).
It was something that had been on my mind for a while. Missing out on racing at Waka Te Tasman, because of the weather last year, was just the thing to give me the kick I needed. I really want to improve my strength and technique in the waka and to compete with committed crews.
There is no hiding in a single waka; if you rest, the waka stops, if you don’t put power into the stroke, the waka doesn’t move all that far! However, being able to paddle on my own, at my own pace and times, means that I am able to do technique drills that are not always possible when one is part of a 6 man crew. But don’t ask me to ‘hup’ (call changes) – I now do anything up to 60 strokes on each side and completely forget to count when I am in an OC6 (6 man waka).
Having my own waka meant that training for World Sprints in 2018 was so much easier as I could go out by myself for training sessions. It also meant I could get out with others who were training for different crews. I can’t recommend it enough for that.
I love it! I’m still leaning a bit to the left, still challenged by getting back in and definitely not wanting to fall out. I am becoming more comfortable each time I take it out. There are more and more people paddling one man here in Nelson. Saturday mornings have become a bit of a social one-man time. Its great to go out in a group especially if the surf is up or conditions are a bit challenging. Safety in numbers and all that. Its also a lot of fun to paddle with others and then go for coffee afterwards. I still have the external dialogue going when things get tough which causes much amusement.
Why did I choose an Ehukai OC1 outrigger?
Initially I was thinking of buying a second hand waka. I asked around and no one knew of any for sale close to Nelson. Most of the second hand one man outriggers are fibre glass and heavy. At my stage of life I definitely didn’t want heavy.
Most of the ‘lads’ in the area here have Ehukai (designed by John Puakea’s at Puakea Designs), one has a Scorpius and there are a couple of fibre glass OC1s around. The ‘lads’ were so helpful, talking me through all the options, making me aware of the pros and cons. (Subsequently most of them have sold, or are thinking of selling, their Ehukais and bought Kahe Kai or Ares canoes as there is a lot of interest in downwind runs now.)
My decision was based a lot on weight. With a carbon fibre hull weighing around 8.5kg, its light to lift and carry. I can get it on top of the car relatively easily (except the day I got it tangled up in the lemon tree and had to fight to get it back). The fact that she is very pretty, has a protective cover, clips together and was brand new, were also deciding factors. The cover is a bonus as it protects the waka and makes it easy to slide into the cradles on the car.
The Ehukai (meaning sea spray in Hawaiian) came with covers for the waka, ama, kiato, a seat and rudder.
The narrow bow and low volume allow for easy pick up and acceleration. The manoeuvrability of this canoe enables the rider to respond to changing conditions quickly.
A narrow footwell allows blade entry closer to the hull, offering efficiency with each stroke. The Ehukai also comes with a footwell cover which sheds water from the footwells.
The Ehukai is built with Ozone’s innovative monocoque 100% carbon construction.
Where can you get an OC1?
I got my Ehukai from Paul Wilford at Ocean Elements Ltd in Auckland (firstname.lastname@example.org). He was so helpful and he can give you a link to see what outrigger canoes are currently available. You can get custom designs made up, but that depends on when more are coming into the country. At the moment Paul has quite a few, but none as pretty as mine. Paul is also the rep for Ares OC1 by Kai Barlett.
Delivered to Nelson
Getting it from Auckland to Nelson was not challenging. Paul arranged for Canterbury Bulk Freight to pick it up. It went from Auckland via Picton, St Arnaud (because of the Kaikoura earthquakes) to Christchurch, back to Blenheim and then to Nelson and arrived in perfect condition. I was very impressed with the careful way Canterbury Bulk Freight handled it and how well Paul had packed it. It didn’t have a scratch on it.
Buying the OC1 is not the end of the spending!
Don’t think you have stopped spending money just because you have bought the OC1! There is still a heap of things you need. Other things you will need are (and the list is not definitive)…
- Second spare paddle and a lashing (I use those stretchy physio bands and they are great)
- Roof rack and system for the car (I ended up with a Thule rack) and 4-5m tie downs
- Cradle for the waka which fits the roof rack (several iterations later I have an aluminium cradle from Mark Cresswell in Christchurch as it supports the waka better.)
- Dry bag with emergency stuff (multitool, flare, radio or phone, eats, zinc lipstick, spare lashing and coffee money)
- Life jacket (high viz)
- Stool, as I am short and this makes it easier to get on the car and to do the tie downs
- Bucket and cloth for washing down after paddling (I have heard of people dealing with rust in the car from not washing the OC1 down after paddling).
- A over-length flag (an orange high viz vest is a great idea). The Ehukai comes with a cover with flag included. I added an extra flag with reflectors on for higher visibility.
- A bailer, if your canoe has a cockpit and no foot pump to get the water back out.
Two years on I am still happy with my purchase. The number of Ares has grown and some are now choosing the shorter version of the Ehukai – the Kahele.
However, I now have a V1 as well as I caught the sprinting bug. That is a whole other story.