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Give outrigger canoeing a try

Human-powered speed

Today’s outriggers, a little faster than those first noted in the 16th Century.
Today’s outriggers, a little faster than those first noted in the 16th Century.

As first noted by Magellan’s assistant in the 16th Century while in the Mariana Islands, outrigger canoes were faster and more maneuverable than any of the like-sized craft used by Europeans. The narrow canoes were fitted with an ama, or stabilizing float extended to the left side, and a simple sail cut for speed. And though centuries of vessel evolution brought the Europeans across the oceans, the Polynesians had been traveling by sea in the same craft as far back as their known history would allow.

Though modern outrigger canoes made of fiberglass or composite materials are faster than those the Europeans first saw, they still rely on human power when paddling. There are now some 37 outrigger racing clubs in California alone.

One such club is the San Diego Outrigger Canoe Club, founded in 1983 by Ex–Navy SEAL Dee VanWinkle. The club sends teams to compete in races up and down the coast of California. Today, the club membership consists of men, women, and youth whose ability levels range from Olympic-class athletes to the recreational paddler, and they welcome new prospective members or individuals of all experiences, abilities, and ages to experience canoe racing. The club is opening their Saturday sessions through the end of March to those who would like to give the sport a try. Dress accordingly.

Outrigger Paddling

When: Saturdays through March 31, 8:30–10 a.m.

Where: Campland on the Bay, 2211 Pacific Beach Drive, Mission Bay

Cost: Free

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Today’s outriggers, a little faster than those first noted in the 16th Century.
Today’s outriggers, a little faster than those first noted in the 16th Century.

As first noted by Magellan’s assistant in the 16th Century while in the Mariana Islands, outrigger canoes were faster and more maneuverable than any of the like-sized craft used by Europeans. The narrow canoes were fitted with an ama, or stabilizing float extended to the left side, and a simple sail cut for speed. And though centuries of vessel evolution brought the Europeans across the oceans, the Polynesians had been traveling by sea in the same craft as far back as their known history would allow.

Though modern outrigger canoes made of fiberglass or composite materials are faster than those the Europeans first saw, they still rely on human power when paddling. There are now some 37 outrigger racing clubs in California alone.

One such club is the San Diego Outrigger Canoe Club, founded in 1983 by Ex–Navy SEAL Dee VanWinkle. The club sends teams to compete in races up and down the coast of California. Today, the club membership consists of men, women, and youth whose ability levels range from Olympic-class athletes to the recreational paddler, and they welcome new prospective members or individuals of all experiences, abilities, and ages to experience canoe racing. The club is opening their Saturday sessions through the end of March to those who would like to give the sport a try. Dress accordingly.

Outrigger Paddling

When: Saturdays through March 31, 8:30–10 a.m.

Where: Campland on the Bay, 2211 Pacific Beach Drive, Mission Bay

Cost: Free

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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