Outrigger Canoes (also known as Va’a canoes) have been travelling the Pacific Ocean for more than 4,000 years. Ancient Polynesians and their ancestors moved across the Pacific Islands in single and double hull outrigger and settled on remote islands. These canoes were often sailing vessels and could be much larger than today’s racing V6. When the first Europeans arrived in Polynesia, they recorded sailing outrigger canoes of up to 30m in length, which were designed for long ocean voyages.
Outrigger canoeing as the sport we see today was developed in Tahiti and Hawaii. At the beginning of the 19th Century, Outrigger races became a regular feature during the traditional cultural ‘Heiva’ festival in Tahiti. In Hawaii, Outrigger racing began to emerge at the turn of the 20th Century. Clubs like Hui Nalu and the Outrigger Canoe Club were both founded in 1908 and both still thrive today. Outrigger canoeing is gaining in popularity in England with a number of clubs welcoming new paddlers with a warm “aloha”!