fall novice practice!

Greetings all,

As school is back in session, we’re going to have some fall novice practices to attract some of our motivated undergrads or anyone in Ithaca who is still just learning about outrigger canoeing and wants to learn paddling techniques and squeeze in some outdoor training before winter sets in!

This coming Monday, September 9, we will have a novice practice.  Plan to arrive by 5:15pm. We will review paddling and safety procedures on land and be on the water by 5:30 (or earlier if we are ready!) for about an hour.  Several students from Cornell’s Concrete Canoe Team will be present, and Terry and I will be steering (if we can take multiple boats out!).

Please email me directly at blair.johnson@gmail.com if you are planning to attend or if you have any questions, so that we can plan our boats and get the most value out of everyone’s time.  If you are interested in a novice practice this fall but cannot make it on Monday, please email me anyway and we’ll try to coordinate a convenient time in the coming weeks!

Paddles and PFDs will be provided.  Air and water are both cooling down, so dress accordingly — synthetic clothes (NO cotton or sweatshirts), layers, shoes that WILL get wet (something like tevas, water shoes, or even rubber rain boots).  If it’s windy, a fleece headband or hat is great.

See you on the water!

Kent Island 2013!!

On Saturday, August 31, 2013, we sent a crew down to compete in the Kent Island Cup Relay, a 36 mile relay around Kent Island in the Chesapeake Bay.  The race is divided into 4 legs with changeouts to circle the entire island, so the two crews alternate on the 8-10 mile legs until each crew completes two legs of the course and we’re back to the yacht club.  As we had a crew of 8 enthusiastic paddlers from Cayuga Outrigger, we joined forces with a crew from New York Outrigger, one of our favorite ECORA clubs!  Bill joined the NYO crew and we kept a crew of 7 with Cynthia, Ray, Cookies, stellar “novices” Virginia, Trish, and Sue-Je, and me, with two of our novices doing one leg each.

As this was my first time steering a race (and this is a pretty big race to take on … yikes!), I was nervous about the race start (playing bumper boats against the other teams…) and the third leg, which is the longest leg (10.5 miles) and likely in the roughest water, as it crosses the southern tip of the island in a very open part of the Chesapeake.  NYO agreed that we could have the 2nd and 4th legs, as their crew (also with 3 novices!) was up for the challenge of 1&3!  Since we had an extra paddler, we were in the “mutt” (or unlimited) division, along with 3 other teams who had pulled together their crews from multiple clubs and had some extra paddlers floating in and out.  No pun intended.

So Friday night, we drove down to the yacht club and set up camp right at the finish line.  It was much windier than we expected (about 12mph) so we didn’t get much sleep, with pre-race jitters and flapping tents keeping us up.  But come morning, we watched the women’s and mixed crews take off to the canon at 7:30, then the men’s and “mutts”  launched shortly after.  With NYO en route, we took off in our cars to catch them at Love Point, the first changeout.  Upon arriving, we were informed that our team wasn’t keeping up with the other 15 boats in the race.  The water was rough with the strong winds, and there were only two safety boats available to keep an eye on the crews, so they simply couldn’t spare one to watch our crew.  They said that when the crew arrived to the change location, we could either continue on the 2nd leg as planned, but that the third leg would be too challenging for the other crew to jump into, so our race would end there, OR we head back to the start in reverse order.  Disappointed but understanding, we opted for the second option, not totally sure where we were going (as I hadn’t studied that part of the map!) but determined to make the most of it.  Thinking this was our one and only leg of the race, we went all out and worked our butts off to make our training worth it.  Cookies also had to stop paddling to tie the a’ma back on at one point, as the rigging was coming undone and un-wedged!!  We finished those 8.2 miles in 1 hour 28 minutes, which we were extremely proud of!  What a fun crew, giving it every ounce of steam.

When approaching the start/finish line at the yacht club, much to our confusion, the NYO crew was standing on shore with paddles.  But the race was over, no?  No!  Apparently, the organizers wanted us to get our 30-some miles in, so they set us up to do the “hurricane course,” out to the infamous buoy turn (PJ’s huli, which you can read about in our 2010 Kent Island blog entry… sorry, PJ) and back for leg 3, then repeat for leg 4.  8 more miles per crew, if you can follow the map and the math!  So NYO’s crew hopped back in the boat and took off while we stood bewildered on shore, wondering how we were going to complete a 4th leg after giving it our all in the 2nd!  Jack, who is a steersperson for Kent Island, provided lots of tips for how to master the turn without huli-ing (and probably took about 4 years off of my life while filling me with terror of what could go wrong) and offered suggestions of where to catch the currents on our way out and back.  We caught our second wind as we saw the NYO crew approaching, and took off ourselves to try our luck.  For 4 miles, we plowed into the wind … keeping it short and fast and never giving up through the waves.  Incredible determination from everyone.  Meanwhile, the three top crews in the “normal” race crossed our path and approached the finish line — pretty exciting!  Finally we found our buoy and braced ourselves for the worst.  Indeed we got caught on the eddy behind the buoy, but teamwork and cooperation and focus won out and we conquered the turn and kept the boat up!  Thinking that the worst was over, we started to head back, just as boat #4 joined our course, also aiming for the finish.  Little did we realize that even though the wind was now at our backs, catching the return current to our left would be easier said than done. The wind was picking up and the waves on our left were vicious, rocking our boat like never before (again, subtracting a couple years from my life … whoa baby!).  Meanwhile, some rogue waves came in on the right from time to time, but the crew responded well and magically, we got through it.  It included fantastic teamwork and communication, and this was exactly the crew for it.  We finally caught our current, the crew never gave up, and we powered through.  We could see the buoy at the finish for the final 30 minutes and there was never a lapse in energy.  We had an amazing finish (1 hour 26 minutes!) and were thrilled to see NYO on shore ready to pull us out.

We enjoyed lunch at the yacht club, watched some other teams finish (I think ours was the most impressive, personally!), and got all spiffy for the luau.  Cynthia had made some beautiful leis for each of us, and we had a delicious dinner, wonderful music of the Aloha Boys, and hysterical awards presentation from Jim.  Some of the crews finished the course in just over 5 hours … and one of the women’s crews spent 7 hours, but only used one 6-person crew the entire race — no changeouts!  What incredible teams.  We were awarded 4th place and received wild applause from the rest of the paddling community.  We had fun getting to know more friends in NYO, and were overjoyed to run into a former teammate who was with COCC at its start — Iori!  We watched her paddle like crazy with NCA and got to hang out at the luau — so proud of her!

So even though things didn’t quite go as planned, it didn’t matter.  We had an amazing experience.  Our crew was simply phenomenal, and I wouldn’t trade any of them in!  This is truly a team sport and because of the passion and strength of each crew member, we accomplished so much.

I would be completely remiss not to thank other members of the club for sending so much support and providing encouragement while we trained, to former club members for giving us this foundation and providing so much guidance along the way, and the other paddling communities and ECORA for giving us extra pushes in the right direction.  To NYO for rounding out our team, and Kent Island for incredible hospitality, keeping us safe, and providing this opportunity for such a fun and memorable experience.

Can’t wait to do it again.  We’ll have some photos soon, too!

Paddle Fest Outrigger Demo

Please come on up to Myers Park on Saturday, from 4-6pm to participate in Paddle Fest and Cayuga Outrigger’s demonstration!  Members will provide instruction on the technique, culture and history of the sport of outrigger canoe paddling, along with opportunities to paddle in the canoe with us.

Currently we have Blair, Cynthia, Bill, Diane, Dave, Virginia, and perhaps Jodi, Sally and Barbara joining us!  If you need a ride up and back, please drop a line!

We will be practicing out of Myers Park beginning Sunday, June 30th (we’re paddling up this Friday at 6pm) through to Sunday July 7th when we will be paddling back.  This requires a bit more coordination in regards to travel and time, and if you need a ride to/from Myers Park, or if you can’t get there by 5:45 for our 6:00 paddle – please drop a line and we can make accommodations, so that everyone has a chance to get on the water!

This is a great opportunity to support Paddle Fest, to learn about other paddle sports, and to show our stuff in a different part of Cayuga Lake.  We look forward to seeing you there!


RSVP for Saturday Novice Practice!

Just an announcement that we will be having a Novice Practice this Saturday, June 22, at 10am!  See posts below for details on what to wear to practice.  Email me directly at blair.johnson@gmail.com to RSVP and with any questions so that we can plan accordingly.  Arrive at East Shore at 9:45am, boats on the water at 10 for 1-1.5 hours.

Looking forward to seeing some new faces this weekend!

Novice Practice!!

Phew … finally recovered from a fantastic novice practice this morning!!  It was not looking like the most beautiful day to paddle, totally overcast and in the low 60s (water still barely in the 50s… yikes!) but we had a crew of small but mighty women ready to hit the water.  We easily rolled A’no:wara down the beach and set north along the east shore of Cayuga, with great steering by Sally and Barbara stroking.

The boat felt very strong and smooth, and our two novices caught on instantly.  One of the novices mentioned that she had spent ages sanding and sealing ‘iakos during a semester in Hawaii, though this was her first time in an outrigger!  It was also a nice chance for Barbara and me to slow down a bit at times and work on our technique and sort of take apart what has become (almost) second nature.  I was definitely feeling the burn by the end, as I think everyone was — so totally worth it, and really motivating for our future practices as we continue to improve technique, build strength, and come together as a unified crew no matter who is in the boat.  I am pumped to see these women return to future practices to see if they still enjoy it with crazier water and weather.  I’m certainly hoping they do!  We may finally have our women’s crew that we have looked forward to for years!

I must admit .. it was a major challenge to get the canoe back on shore afterwards, but we made it up in one piece in the end.  I’m not sure that I have ever been so out of breath after paddling, even after PJ’s crazy sprint workouts and long races.  I think I simply overdid it because I was so excited to be paddling with such a fun and focused crew, and so it was unquestionably worthwhile.

As several club members will be traveling during the next couple of weeks, the next official Novice practice will not be until June 22, so stay tuned and continue to email with any questions about possibly attending club practices in the mean time!

June Novice Practices

Now that the water is starting to warm up, we’d like to begin offering some novice practices for new or prospective members, or seasoned club members who would like more time to work on technique in the outriggers.

For June, we’ll plan to have Saturday novice practices on June 8 and June 22 at 10am; please arrive at 9:45 to the Cornell Sailing Center.  Plan to be on the water for 1-1.5 hours.  Please email blair.johnson@gmail.com if you are interested in attending, so that we are sure we have enough new members and/or club members to fill the boats and have a great practice.  If you would like to try paddling but weekends are not convenient for you, send me an email and we can arrange a crew on a weeknight to go out.

Novices are also encouraged to sign up for regular club practices (particularly on Sunday) if they have paddling experience.  Fill out the forms under “practice sign up” on the right hand side, and please leave your contact information so that we can get in touch with you if practice is canceled.

New members will need to sign a waiver (available at practice).  There is also a $10 fee for new paddlers; if you choose to join COCC, this will be applied towards your dues.

Please wear synthetic clothing and shoes that can (and will) get wet.  Don’t bring anything with you that you can’t bear to lose or get wet!  Paddles and PFDs will be provided.

Hope to see you on the water!

2012 Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival!

The Cayuga Outrigger Canoe Club is excited to announce that the Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival has expanded to a second day of outrigger canoe and SUP races.


There will be OC-1, OC-6 and SUP races!  Outrigger racers and teams can compete in a 1000m and 11km races while the SUPers have a 250m fun race, 1000m and 4.2km races.  The longer SUP and outrigger races will include legs out into the lake and Cayuga Lake is known for some wild and unpredictable conditions!  Race information can be found at the FLIDBF website.

Outrigger Detail
The start goes toward the right, then a buoy turn before heading out to the lake!
SUP Detail
SUP starts going to the right, than a buoy turn before heading out into the lake!

Full Outrigger CourseSUP Full Course

2012 ECORA Races

The 2012 race schedule has been posted with the usual races being chosen.  The Washington Monumental starts the season with the Liberty World Outrigger Championship being moved back to June after being run last year in July.  The new addition to the schedule is the Philadelphia Outrigger Canoe Club’s fall race on September 29th.  As always C.O.C.C. will focus on being prepared for the Kent Island Cup and will be looking for 6 men and 6 women to participate in this fantastic event.

2012 Schedule

Here is a video to get you motivated for our upcoming season!  See you on the water!

The Yard Sale from Andrew Waldron on Vimeo.

2012 Paddling Season is Fast Approaching

The paddling season is quickly approaching as our moderate winter should allow us to get on the water earlier than ever before.  The canoes are already at East Shore Marina and the iakos and amas are ready to be lashed on.

RRC 2011
COCC finishing first at the Rochester River Challenge!

Please make sure that you are prepared for cold water paddling with the correct clothing and a PFD.  Practices will start on Sundays and expand to Tuesday and Friday as weather permits.  Dues have remained at $125 so we are one of the best deals in Ithaca for people wanting to workout plus you get to be on the water and hangout with awesome folks.  See you on the water!