Outrigger Safety

Safety starts with you.  Here are some ways that you can look to your own safety while in the wa'a (canoe):

  • Dress in layers, so that you can remove or add clothing as the weather changes or you warm up.  Opt for man-made, technical fabrics, or animal fabrics such as silk or wool.  Cotton is a poor choice, as it gets chilly when wet, and will remain wet for a long time.
  • Footwear will get wet.  Choose water shoes or sports sandals, preferably with a closed toe.  Flip-flops are not advised, as they don't provide secure footing when moving, boarding, or disembarking the wa'a. In winter, consider wool or neoprene socks, or paddling booties to keep your feet warm.
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hydration in summer.  Hats, gloves, and neck gaiters in winter.
  • A Personal Flotation Device (PFD), aka life jacket, is required.  This should be US Coast Guard-approved, in good repair, and fully and securely fastened.
  • Listen to all instructions, particulary those given by the kapena (steersperson).

The kapena looks to the safety of the boat by:

  • Being aware of wind and weather conditions, and determing the safest course for the conditions presented.
  • Keeping a sharp eye out for hazards, particularly those presented by other boats.
  • Being aware of the trim and heading of the canoe, asking for help from the crew as needed to prevent huli (capsize)

What happens if the wa'a hulis?

Before attending your first session, it is recommended you watch this excellent video by the Canadian Outrigger Racing Association about huli recovery.  Huli recovery is practiced mutliple times throughout summer, while the water is warm.