In New Zealand a ruddered canoe (Hawaiian style – oneman outrigger canoe) is referred to as an OC1. A rudderless canoe (Tahitian style – va’a) is normally referred to as a V1. Both can be referred to as W1 – which can get confusing sometimes.
I get asked for advice sometimes on which would be best to buy. The answer is “It really depends on what you are wanting to do“.
Going for Distance or Sprints?
Again the answer is a bit like “how long is a piece of string?”
If you are going for distance then personally, I would recommend a ruddered waka, particularly if you are newish to paddling. In heavier seas, currents and winds they are much easier to control (you just use the pedals to manoeuvre the canoe). The V1 is used more for sprints. However, if you are aiming at World Long Distance then you will need a rudderless V1 canoe. Most races in New Zealand (if they have one-man races) will have categories for both OC1 and V1.
If you are competing at sprints in a W6 it’s great to have an OC1 to train in. It means you can concentrate on paddling techniques and cadence without having to worry about steering all the time.
The Kai Bartlett or Puakea OC1 ruddered canoes that come from Hawaii are really nice, beautifully made and very, very light. V1s tend to be Tahitian made, normally they are fibreglass or an SGlass/Carbon fibre mix, making them heavier. The V1 are also about a metre longer (7m) and therefore harder to manage on the car and in strong winds.
You are really at the mercy of wind, waves and currents in a v1. Steering can be hard on your shoulders as you are constantly steering the canoe. There isn’t much straight paddling in a v1:)
I now store my V1 at the marina and I have to trolley it because of my back issues. I could easily lift my old ehukai on and off the car and into the water. I would go light every time! Especially as you have had shoulder issues. There are not a lot of full carbon fibre V1s around.
We have heaps of singles in my area and people are usually OK about letting you have a go. Try as many as you can to see what suits you and what you can manage easily on and off the water and in a variety of wind/tide conditions.
My strongest advice – from a woman’s point of view: Go light. Go full carbon. Arohanui