Hood River Outrigger Canoe Club


Seat Positions & Roles in a 6-man Outrigger Canoe


Each seat has a specific responsibility in the canoe. Everyone must work together as a team and crew to be successful. It is important to know the role of EVERY seat!

Seat 1: The Stroke: This is the pace setter position in the canoe. The stroke must be a strong paddler with a good sense of rhythm, timing, and be able to feel the canoe in the water. The stroke must know when to blend with the crew by increasing the stroke rate, increase or decrease the length of the stroke as conditions change, or when to add power within the stroke. All paddlers must follow seat #1 , so it is very important that the stroke knows and blends with the entire crew! This can be a very challenging and lonely seat and requires self-motivation and the ability to remain focused. This seat is also partly responsible for informing the steers of possible obstacles! Other than that, seat 1 is quiet.

Seat 2: This person is extremely important for whole crew timing! They must mirror the timing, power and technique of the person in seat 1 perfectly. They are the main support and encouragement for seat #1. The 1, 2  combination is the foundation on which the canoes performance is built. At times seat 2 will be required to assist in turning the canoe using a Kahi. Since seat 1 and 2 work as a pair, words of encouragement between 1 and 2 are good.  Seat 2 may have to relay commands from the steers and seat 3 if seat 1 cannot hear them.  Other than that, seats 1 and 2 are very quiet.

Seat 3: This position usually calls the changes in the canoe. The call should be done in a strong voice and be timed perfectly with the stroke. The change is called on 8-12 strokes, but can vary with different conditions. Our club call is “Hut” at the top of the stroke, when the paddle hits the water, with the change following after 2 more strokes. This seat mirrors the paddle timing and power with seat #1. Seat 3 also typically calls for tempo and intensity changes to catch waves, or to speed up the boat.  Seat 3 ultimately thinks strategically in race conditions and has a good sense of the waves in downwind paddling.

Seats 3, 4 and 5 : Engine Room: These three seats are the power seats or engine room. These seats must be strong, have power and must keep the same rate as 1 and 2. These paddlers are the key to powering up out of the turn to get the canoe up and running again. All three seats protect the ama from popping with bracing on the non ama side and leaning on the ama on the left when stopped or in rough water.

Seat 4: is in a good position to bail and keep the boat dry. They mirror the paddle timing and power of seat #2. Seat 4 is a quiet seat.

Seat 5: requires all around skills, including power and awareness. They have a good view of the canoe and can clearly see the Ama, quickly reacting to prevent a huli. They follow seat #3, support the steers, and bail when necessary.  Seat 5 can be an integral part of steering as directed by the steers.  Seat 5 is a quiet seat.

Seat: 6: The Steers: This seat is usually your most experienced paddler.  The steersman is the Captain and leader of the canoe. This position controls the entire crew, and only this person should be heard talking while paddling unless the steers asks seat 3 to make the calls. The  steersman is responsible for the safety and health of the canoe as well as the safety of the crew in our ever changing conditions. The steersman will call out rate change or timing to keep everyone in sync with each other. They inspire their crew and oversee the coaching needed, in a positive tone, to help the boat glide and paddlers to improve.

   *Unity!!! These six seats must work together in harmony on timing, changes and power to achieve the ultimate goal, “the glide or sweet spot”. This makes the canoe easy to paddle in all water conditions. 

“When we are in the canoe, we are one paddler, one heart and one spirit. It is rare to achieve this, but when it occurs, effort becomes effortless and one transcends the limitations of the ego. All becomes one and the true essence of paddling is experienced.”

Next Page: Outrigger Canoe Terms


Hood River Outrigger Canoe Club is a 501(c)3 all volunteer non-profit organization 

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