How to Choose an Outrigger Paddle

How to Size Outrigger Paddles

Outrigger Paddle Rules

Outrigger paddles used in OC-6 races must conform to the rules of the sanctioning association. While this may seem like a confusing situation, most associations tend to follow the Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association's (OHCRA) canoe paddle rule. Why? OHCRA is the largest association and is the sanctioning body for the Moloka'i Hoe. All KIALOA Hybrid and wood outrigger paddles designed for OC-6 use are built to the OHCRA rule and are legal for use in all of Hawaii’s outrigger races. Any single bladed outrigger paddle may be used in a rudderless Va'a, unlimited OC-6, OC-1 or OC-2, whether it is wood, hybrid or full carbon. Ultra-light full carbon outrigger paddles might seem the obvious choice, as they tend to be the lightest construction material, but Hybrid style paddles tend to be the dominant type of paddle on Hawaii’s solo canoe scene.  


KIALOA Hybrid Outrigger Paddle

KIALOA's Hybrid outrigger paddles are constructed of a carbon blade with a wood core, a triple laminated wood shaft, and a hand shaped wood t-top all of which conform to OHCRA race rules. Hybrid outrigger paddles tend to be the most popular in the racing scene. Whether it is the natural shock absorbing qualities of the wood shaft, or the slightly heavier weight, which makes control of the paddle easier in the wind and surf, the vast majority of hardcore paddlers choose Hybrid outrigger paddles.  


Outrigger Paddle Size and Shape

KIALOA offers a variety of blade shapes and sizes designed with different applications in mind. The overall guiding principal is this: the slower the craft the smaller the blade. The strength, fitness and technique of the paddler contribute to craft speed as well as the craft itself and both factor into your choice of outrigger paddle. Understanding how you are going to use the paddle as well as your own experience will help guide you to the perfect paddle. Never forget to ask your coach and experienced teammates for help choosing! Keep in mind that full composite outrigger paddles are not sanctioned by OHCRA for six man paddling in Hawaii.  

Double Bend vs Single Bend

A KIALOA single bend paddle has one 10 degree bend where the paddle blade meets the shaft. The KIALOA double bend has a second bend in the shaft with a 10 - 17 degree angle at the blade which varies by model. How does this affect your paddling? That is largely based on preference.  Having more angle can, arguably, give you more reach.  The double bend in the shaft can also be more ergonomic by putting your wrist in a more neutral, and comfortable, position at the catch. Often the best way to decide which is best for you is to talk to your coach and fellow paddlers. If you can try one, that is even better! 


The Choices 


Hybrid Paddles

Axel II: The all-in-one blade, ideal for men's OC-1 and men and women's OC-6.  

Nehu:  This hybrid has the thinnest carbon blade with a wood core on the market. With slight hook at the tip it has a clean entry and very strong catch. Ideal for 6 man and regatta paddling for both men and women.  This paddle is also available as a double bend.

Mekana: A women's specific paddle available in a 10 degree single or sweeping double bend with and increased blade angle of 16.5 degrees. The Mekana has a slimmer and lighter oval shaft and a blade with a smaller surface area. Perfect for women in both 6 man and one man canoes.

Hoku: The perfect 6 man paddle available in a 10 degree single bend or a sweeping double bend and an increased blade angle of 16.5 degrees. 

Teva Hoe: This is the largest blade in the KIALOA line-up and offers the experienced paddler more versatility. It is a Tahitian style paddle with a 15 degree double bend, it has a very thin blade and aggressive PowerHook at the tip.


Composite Paddles

Wacky Shaft: This S shaped shaft was designed to relieve stress on the wrist and forearm while maintaining a powerful neutral position at the catch. We have many testimonials that this paddle relieves pain and tingling in the hands and forearms allowing you to paddle longer and stronger. It is a full composite outrigger paddle and comes with the choice of the Axel II or Nehu blade.  

Keone: This is our first full carbon paddle designed specifically for outrigger paddlers. It has an Axel II blade and is ideal for one man paddling for both men and women. It has a one piece construction giving it a natural flex unlike its much stiffer competitors.

Hoku Carbon Double Bend:  This double bend full carbon paddle was designed with unlimited canoe racing in mind. The beautiful faux-wood veneer adds a natural touch to a very hi-tech paddle.

Kaho'olawe Adjustable:  A bomb proof adjustable paddle perfect for clubs.  Its adjustability reduces the chance of never finding the right size for your paddlers.  It is also a great tool when trying to size a paddler when they are ready to purchase their own. There is also a fixed version that is our most affordable and durable outrigger paddle.

Keiki Kaho'olawe: The Kid's Kaho'olawe is adjustable for growing paddlers and super durable. Made to last!


Wood Paddles

Axelwood Double Bend: This all wood paddle has a superior glossy finish, unique wood variations and a design for performance.
'Oha: The Oha is a beautiful single bend all wood paddle with a round shaft. This is the perfect entry level or club paddle at an affordable price.
Keiki 'Oha: This all wood paddle is designed for kids. The shaft, blade and t-top have all been sized for smaller hands and the material is designed for strength and endurance.  


Outrigger Steering Paddles 

Biscuit: This blade was designed for calm to mid-water conditions. It is lighter, thinner  and has slightly less surface area than the Foti which allows the steersman to paddle more while steering. It is ideal for regatta racing and paddle-steering across lakes, rivers and bays as well as mild to mid ocean conditions.  

Foti: This blade was designed with the Moloka'i Channel crossing in mind. It has a larger surface area and sturdy blade  which is required to maneuver a boat in bigger water conditions. The Foti is ideal for big active water that may require stronger corrections. It is also good for smaller or less experienced steersmen as the larger blade adds force to your corrections.  

Mirror Pond: Brought back by popular demand in 2013, this blade was designed for the more experienced steersman.  The paddle has a 7 degree bend, slightly more than the standard 5 degree bend of most steering paddles. This allows for more efficient paddling and paddle steering. Best for use in calm waters, like rivers, lakes and bays and not ideal for aggressive pokes in big water. This steering paddle is also available as a double bend.

Hawaiki: This blade is perfect for the paddling steers person but can also handle more aggressive steering and poking. Available in full carbon double bend and Hybrid double bend.

Small Craft Warning: The name says it all! This large Hybrid steering blade is designed for huge conditions when you need a lot of control.


For further help choosing a paddle please contact us by e-mail or phone 541-382-5355.  

KIALOA is employed by experienced paddlers and paddle makers and we would love to hear from you.