The epicenter of the paddling is expanding

07/08/2021 01:30 AM By sales

When people think of great outrigger communities, what usually comes to mind is Hawaii, Tahiti, and other Pacific islands where outrigger canoeing is the single defining sport. And, of course, Southern California. 

Don’t stop there.

One of the fastest growing paddling communities on the West Coast is a city that is already the epicenter of just about everything else that’s “hip” in the U.S: Portland. The number of competitive outrigger canoe clubs here abounds: Mountain Home Canoe ClubWasabi Paddling ClubPacific Outrigger Canoe Club, Columbia River Outrigger Canoe ClubKai Ikaika Paddling ClubBridge City Paddling, and Zamboanga Paddling Club. Portland paddlers are as passionate as anywhere—paddlers like Aislyn Matias, of the Kai Ikaika Paddling Club

“Portland is a community of skillful, competitive paddlers,” says Aislyn, “even a great training ground for local racers who want to compete in Hawaii.” Her enthusiasm is shared by Torey Browne, co-founder of the Pacific Northwest Outrigger Canoe Association (PNWORCA) and someone who helped bring outrigger paddling to the area. And Kate Kauffman, a coach at the Wasabi Paddling Club—a club whose theme captures the spirit of Portland outrigger canoeing: “Competition, Community, Camaraderie.” But Kate wants that spirit to expand to even more paddlers.

Room for even more growth

“There are a lot of 50-something paddlers here, but we have a need for new blood,” says Kate. “I would love to see clubs get more young members every year—novices.” She would also like to see more people learn how to paddle V1 rudderless canoes. “V1s are a great way to connect with the water and the world around you,” she says. “Until I paddled a V1, I never realized how much the current matters.”

The current does matter. And right now that current is definitely flowing in the direction of Portland. “There is a convergence that could take place here,” says Aislyn, “consistent with a feeling in Tahiti—that the interest in va’a is surging and bringing with it all the benefits people gain from developing a paddling relationship with themselves and each other, the culture, the sport, and of course the environment that supports it all.”

And let’s not forget “ohana”—that feeling of family engendered by the connections that outrigger canoeing creates. “If we can harness that cultural connection and passion,” says Kate, “expanding the paddling community in Portland is a no-brainer.” 

ARE Outrigger World is the exclusive distributor of ARE Tahiti canoes for North America and Hawaii, dedicated to making outrigging faster and more fun for more and more paddlers. Visit our website:

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