After Practice

After your canoe returns to the 9th Street Boat Ramp,

  1. Your Steersperson will invite you to express your Mahalo for a safe return after practice
  2. The Steersperson will tell each paddler when to exit the canoe
  3. At least one paddler should stay with the canoe
  4. 1 or 2 paddlers from the first canoe to reach the boat ramp should unlock the bumper and cart
  5. Assist your crew in bringing your canoe up (you may be asked to help other crews bring up their canoes)
    • Roll the canoe on the bumper
    • While maintaining social distance, lift the canoe from the end towards the boat ramp
    • While the end is lifted, someone places the cart under the canoe (about mid-ama; depending on the canoe, between the “R” and “C”)
    • Two people lift the ama
    • Push the canoe forward
  6. Put the PFDs, huli rope, safety bucket, and running lights (if used) back in the shed
  7. If you borrowed a club paddle, please rinse it and place it back in the shed
  8. In conformity with our COVID-19 Protocol, only remove your own paddle from the canoe
  9. Gather in a large circle while maintaining social distance
  10. Any final notes, reminders, or announcements are given
  11. Our Club Oli is chanted
  12. On some days, this may be followed by work party on the club site

Roles of Paddlers in the Canoe

Seat #1Stroker (Mua) who sets the pace for the rest of the paddlers
Seat #2Second Stroker who follows the pace set by Seat #1 and is followed by Seat #4
Seat #3Part of the Engine Room and is usually also the Caller who does the kāhea (i.e. calls the changes)
Seat #4Part of the Engine Room who helps to move the canoe
Seat #5Part of the Engine Room and backup Steersperson
Seat #6Steersperson (Ho’okele)

COVID-19 Safety Procedures

1. Sign-in when you arrive on the sheet on the table or in the shed if it is too windy.
2. No more mailbox for key & personal item storage for now. Please stow your keys and/or cell phone in a waterproof bag on you or use a hide-a-key etc.
3. Club owned or lender paddles need to be wiped them down with sanitizer before and after use.
4. Once you are assigned a seat stow your gear close by you. At the end of practice each person will remove their own paddle, water bottle, windbreaker etc. themselves and put them either off to the side or take up to their car – then come back for the chant.
5. The gear that will go back in the shed will be the club owned paddles, huli ropes, lifejackets, & safety buckets. The cart and fender will get locked to a pole outside the shed.
6. We want to have only one person in the shed at a time. Just wait until the person comes out before going in.
7. We will have the handwashing, sanitizer station set up at each practice. Once you sign-in with your steersperson and new paddlers fill out a wavier if needed, sanitize your hands before practice and at the end of each practice. Or anytime you feel you would like to wash up. Some may have this good habit already and carry sanitizer in their cars to use before and after they go to a function.
8. Start of practice: gather in a larger circle than usual out by the canoes so we can talk and plan our practice, set seats in the canoe.
9. We will have to skip then Hawaiian custom of all putting energy into the canoe and going down to launch together. Instead we will launch one canoe at a time. The first crew’s 6 paddlers will go down to the water holding on at their stations, see safety plan below. Take your time when putting the cart under the canoe so not to hurting anyone’s back. One canoe at a time goes down to launch. We will only have 6 down at the dock, or 7 if a person comes down to bring the cart back for the next canoe. This is to help keep our social distancing and to be considerate of other public also using the ramp. The first crew will then get underway. The 2nd crew will then go down, launch and lock up the cart. Both canoes will join up for practice together on the water. Coming back in, we will come in one canoe at a time too. Wait, off shore, until the first canoe has gone up the ramp before the 2nd canoe docks.
10. Look for red tape marks at 6 foot intervals, IE. position stations, while moving/lifting canoes: one person at the bow, one at the stern, two at each iakos; one at the ama & one at the non-ama side.
11. At the end of practice after any coaching comments, appreciations, announcements, the chant can be lead in a large circle – then at the end just throw your arms up to release all that great energy we created on the water together.

Sprint Turn

Please review the list of paddling commands. During sprint races (regattas), canoes must make at least 1 left turn around a flag (e.g. 500 meter race; 3 turns in a 1,000 meter race; 7 turns in a 2,000 meter race).

  • As the canoe approaches the flag, the Steersperson may say, “Coming in!
    • The Caller makes sure that Seat #1 is on the right and Seat #2 is on the left before the turn is initiated.
  • Once the turn begins, the Steersperson says, “Une!
    • Seat #1 pokes to the right, that is, he or she places the paddle against the right side of the canoe with the blade parallel to the gunwale in a steering position.
    • Seats #3, #4, #5 reduce their power to about 50-60%.
  • As the canoe’s ama approaches the flag, the Steersperson says, “Kahi!
    • Seat #1 switches sides and joins Seat #2 in drawing under the left side of the canoe.
    • Seat #2 begins to draw left under the canoe.
  • As the canoe rounds the flag, the Steersperson will say, “Huki!” The canoe’s momentum will help complete the turn. The Steersperson does not want to over turn.
    • Seat #1 switches sides again, so he or she is back on the right side, and paddles forward.
    • Seat #2 paddles forward on the left side.
    • All paddlers power up to get the canoe moving.
  • After about 7-9 strokes, the Caller makes the kahea to initiate a change.

Here is a video from the 2016 World Sprints which show crews doing sprint turns around a flag. However, please note that in our club, the paddlers in Seat #5 and Seat #6 do not usually draw right while Seat #1 and Seat #2 kahi (i.e. draw left).

Race Start

This technique was introduced by former BOCC coach, Dee Lowe, who adapted it from a dragon boat race start. The intent is to get the canoe up and running quickly in the beginning, and then settle into a strong, smooth, long stroke. This particular start helps paddlers who may be anxious or unfocused at the start of a race to confidently work and think together.


  • 5 long, deep, powerful strokes to get the canoe up on the water. These first give strokes will be inevitably slow because the canoe is starting from a stopped position.
  • 10 fast and shorter strokes at 100% power on the same side for a total of 15 strokes from the start.
  • The Caller says “Hut” on stroke 14. Everyone changes sides after the 15th stroke.
  • 10 fast and short strokes on the other side at 100% power.
  • The Caller says “Hut” on stroke 9. Everyone changes sides after the 10th stroke. These first two changes are sometimes referred to as 5-10-10.
  • Follow the Stroker who should lengthen the stroke and settle into a long, smooth stroke at race pace (80-90% power), or you can push yourself and go for 95-100% power.
  • The Caller says “Hut” on the 12th stroke. Everyone changes sides.
  • Maintain race pace for the next three changes (6 changes in total for each Race Start Drill usually done several times at the end of practice on Saturdays).

Paddling Commands

Walk the canoe forward/
Walk it back
While seated in the canoe at the boat launch ramp, use your hand to move the canoe forward or back along the dock. Don’t let go of the dock.
on the
Rest your paddle on the gunwale of the canoe. Almost immediately followed by Mākaukau/Paddles up. Place your paddle with the blade on the opposite side of the person in front of you. Generally, the Stroker will begin on the left, so Seat #2 will begin on the right, etc.
Mākaukau /
Put your paddles in ready position, that is, above the water and prepare to begin paddling. This command literally means “Ready, prepare, able, competent, capable, handy, efficient, proficient, versed, adept, skilled, qualified; to make ready, to prepare.” As you put your paddle and yourself in ready position, you can respond, “‘Ae,” (pronounced, “eye”) “Yes, consent, agree, approve, confirm.”
Paddles up /
Hoe hapai
See Mākaukau / Ho’omākaukau
Huki“To pull.” Begin paddling.
HitBegin paddling or take only 1 stroke if you are doing Hit Drills
Hut/HoThe kāhea said by the Caller (usually the paddler in Seat #3) to initiate everyone changing sides on which they are paddling. After you hear “Hut,” generally said that the top of a stroke, respond by saying, “Ho,” as you take one more stroke on the side of which you are currently paddling. Then immediately switch sides.
LawaStop paddling. Literally, “enough, sufficient, adequate.”
Hold waterAn action to stop the canoe from moving. Plant your paddle in the water on the left side of the canoe with the blade perpendicular to the gunwale.
Back paddleStroke on the left side of the canoe starting from the back and moving towards the front. Stay in time with the Stroker.
Buck it overThis action moves the canoe laterally to the right. Place your paddle in the water against the left side of the canoe with the blade parallel to the gunwale. Then push your paddle to the left towards the ama.
KahiLiterally, “to cut.” Place your paddle in the water away from the canoe with the blade parallel to the gunwale. Then, push the blade under the canoe. This draw stroke is generally done by Seats #1 & #2 and usually on the left. On the Steerperson’s command, it could occasionally be done by Seat #1 on the right while everyone else leans left.
DrawSee Kahi. The Steersperson will usually indicate which side to stroke, e.g. “Draw left” or “Draw right.”
Power up /
Dig in
Put more pressure on the blade; bring your paddling effort up to 100% power. This command is often used when the Steersperson is fighting strong wind or current to make a turn or maneuver to the dock.
on the left
All paddlers paddle on the left side of the canoe. If you are already paddling on the left side, stay there; if you are paddling on the right side, immediately switch over to the left. This command is used to put more pressure on the ama and make the canoe more stable usually when making a turn in choppy water.
MahaloLiterally, “gratitude; to give thanks.” Done at the end of practice when the canoe returns to the dock. The Steersperson will count to three (in English or Hawaiian) and everyone is invited to express gratitude for a safe paddle by saying “Mahalo” often accompanied by tapping tenderly on the side of the canoe.
PostReach out and place your paddle in the water on the left side of the canoe away from the gunwale. Your blade should be parallel to the side of the canoe or slightly turned out. This is can be done by the Stroker to help turn the canoe left or by the Steersperson to turn the canoe right. If the Steersperson has to do a hard poke on the right, Seat #5 may be asked to post on the left.
KauLiterally, “to put, to set, to place.” See Post.
UneLiterally, “to lever.” Generally, this is done by Seat #1 to assist the Steersperson in turning the canoe around a flag during a sprint race. Seat #1, places the blade of his or her paddle against the right side of the canoe parallel to the gunwale. This is similar to when the Steersperson pokes to turn the canoe.
I mua
Literally, “to go forward, progress.” Everyone paddles forward. This command is usually given after the canoe has made a turn around a flag during a sprint race and the Steersperson wants the canoe to go straight.
PokePlace your paddle flat against the side of the canoe. If done by the Steersperson to turn the canoe, try to angle the blade forward. See Une above done by Seat #2 during a sprint turn.

Parts of the Canoe & Paddle

The image above is from the Kihei Canoe Club.

Wa’aGeneral word for “Canoe”
Wa’a KaukahiSingle hull canoe with one outrigger
AmaOutrigger float
‘IakoWooden boom that connects the main hull of the canoe to the ama
MukuThe end of the ‘iako on the right side of the canoe
‘AhaRope, cord
Kaula LikiniRigging; lashings
Kino/Ka’eleHull; “body” of the canoe
WaeSpreaders on which the ‘iakos are attached to the hull
Ihu Wa’aBow (front end of the canoe)
Manu IhuNose, forward piece of the canoe
Pale KaiSplash guard to divert waves from going into the canoe; don’t hold when you are moving or lifting the canoe
Hope Wa’aStern (back end of the canoe)
Manu HopeTail, aft piece of the canoe
PōheoheoT-grip knob at the top of the paddle
Image from Pa’a Pono Miloli’i

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

While it is not required, our club encourages paddlers to wear a personal flotation device (PFD, e.g. a life jacket). If you do not have your own, you may borrow one of the basic orange PFDs which fits around the neck and ties around the torso. Also, six of these orange PFDs are kept in each canoe when we paddle in case they are needed.

The most popular brand of PFD among BOCC paddlers is Vaikobi. However, some paddlers also wear dragon boat style PFDs.

Although optional, wearing a PFD would definitely be good if you were ever in cold water. Here is a classic video of what happens to your body in cold water and how you can maximize your survival in that emergency situation.