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Outrigger canoes feature one or more lateral support floats known as outriggers, which are fastened to one or both sides of the main hull. The outrigger gives a canoe greater stability and seaworthiness. The sport is also known as Wa’a racing in some parts of the Pacific and Waka ama in New Zealand.
Outrigger races vary in length from 500 metres for sprint events, eight kilometres for “short course” events, 16-18 kilometres for “long course” events, and up to 42 kilometres for marathon events. The crew consists of one to nine people, depending on the type of race and canoe. As a standard outrigger canoe contains six seats, crew changeovers during longer races involve exit and entry to the canoe directly from the water while the canoe is underway. Longer races are typically conducted in the open ocean.
In 1994 the former HKIPC brought the first outrigger canoes to Hong Kong from Vancouver, Canada. The intention was to provide some off-season recreational paddling for dragon boat paddlers, but it did not take long until members started to race outriggers competitively. Today outrigger training and racing has an equal weighting to dragon boating in our club, and the VRC Paddle Club fleet includes a flotilla of 6 OC1s, 3 OC2s and 8 OC6s Canoes (2x Unlimited, 6x Standard). Our official outrigger training season is from June to December, but members train year-round to compete individually in various overseas events.
“…regular victories in most of the local races.”
Our club remains one of the most successful outrigger canoe clubs in Hong Kong, with regular victories in most of the local races organized by the various clubs in Hong Kong. In recent years, our club has also sent crews to some of the larger overseas races, winning the Queen Lili’uokalani Race in 2012 and completing the gruelling Olamau race in 2013 with Lantau Boat Club.