Canoe designer and championship coach John Puakea teaches us the Tahitian paddling technique that Shell Va'a uses to dominate the canoe races. In this video, John breaks down the Tahitian paddling stroke taught to him by Gerard Teva by using videos of champion paddlers from California and Tahiti.

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The Tahitian stroke technique is a unique method used in outrigger canoeing that focuses on speed, power, and efficiency. It is characterized by a quick and powerful stroke, utilizing the entire body to generate momentum and maximize paddle efficiency. Here are some key aspects of the Tahitian stroke technique:

1. Paddle Grip: The paddle is held with a loose grip, allowing for quick and fluid movement.

2. High Cadence: The Tahitian stroke involves a rapid paddling cadence, with short and quick strokes. This helps to maintain momentum and increases speed.

3. Body Rotation: The paddler engages their core muscles and uses their whole body to generate power. A strong rotation of the torso, hips, and shoulders is essential in this technique.

4. Blade Entry: The paddle is smoothly and swiftly placed into the water near the feet, approximately at a 45-degree angle. The blade should enter the water cleanly and without splashing, reducing resistance.

5. Pulling Phase: As the paddle enters the water, the paddler pulls back using the big muscles of the back and shoulders, generating power and propulsion.

6. Exit and Recovery: Once the paddle reaches the hip, it is lifted out of the water quickly, minimizing drag. This allows for a smooth and efficient recovery phase before the next stroke.

7. Footwork: To enhance the body's rotation, the paddler uses footwork techniques such as toe-heel pressure and pivoting on hips to direct power through the stroke.

8. Timing and Synchronization: In a team setting, paddlers need to work together in perfect coordination for optimal performance. Timing becomes crucial to ensure a synchronized stroke.

Overall, the Tahitian stroke technique emphasizes speed, power, and coordination. When done correctly, it can significantly enhance outrigger canoe performance, making it a popular choice for competitive paddlers.

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UNE = pronounced OO-NAY. To “lever.”
This is the action MUA (stroker and sometimes others) takes to help HO‘OKELE (steerer) turn the bow of the canoe going around the turn flag. This can be ANY movement of the paddle, from a J-stroke to paddling toward the hull. I have heard this term mispronounced UNI = OO-NEE. This word is not in the Hawaiian dictionary.
KAHI = pronounced, KAH-HEE. To “cut.”
Holds the paddle still, blade “cutting” in the same line as the canoe. No “action” was taken.

This video shows seats 1 and 2 doing three turns:

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The first part of this video shows the steersman in one turn:

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Introduction to Hawaiian Outrigger Canoeing

Steersman Accreditation Study Guide - Righting a Canoe