Outrigger Canoe Club Welcomes Spring

By Natalie Hopkins on May 6, 2012

The weather is turning beautiful here out in the Pacific Northwest, and within weeks we are graced with sunshine in return for the rainy hardship of winter. For those wanting a unique, challenging experience on the water, Kikaha O Ke Kai Outrigger Canoe Club has exactly what you are looking for.

The group meets every Tuesday and Thursday at Steel Lake Park in Federal Way, just north of Tacoma. Kikaha O Ke Kai has both Women's and Men's programs, for those who want a competitive or recreational atmosphere. One, two, and four person canoes can be used, with the most common being six. At times, two six-person canoes are rigged together to form a double canoe. The Club wants to make sure this is the right sport for you, and they offer 3 free tries. During these trails, you will receive instruction from the coaches, and have the experience of being out on the water with 5 others in the same canoe - all at zero cost to you. After your tries are up, you then have the option to sign up for an annual membership. The cost is $100, but the insurance will cost you $30.

While the competitive season started this April, Kikaha welcomes anyone who is interested. The season lasts until September, and the regattas last all day long with events starting at 500 meter races, then on to 1000 meters and 1500 meters. There are relay events you can choose from as well but for those wanting to test endurance, there are longer distances available ranging from five to 16 miles. If you opt for the solo canoe, the season does last during the winter, with the season wrapping up in early April.

The Pacific Northwest Outrigger Canoe Association (PNWORCA) oversees outrigger canoe racing in Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho. If you would be interested in even longer distances throughout Washington, California and Hawaii, there are races ranging from 26 to a 42 mile races throughout September and October.

Whether you want to do this either recreationally or competitively, you have to be prepared. Life vests are optional, as is cold weather gear. This could be anything from multiple layers of clothing, to neoprene booties and wetsuits. The Club is out there in cold and hot weather, so make sure to dress appropriately. They will, however, cancel both practices and races in the event of thunderstorms. You do not have to have your own canoe to join the Club, and for practices you can borrow a Club paddle. Kikaha O Ke Kai welcomes those of all ages and experience, just bring your motivation to learn, and willingness to try something new.