What is a V1?

V1 stands for one-person va’a. The Tahitian term va’a is used to differentiate it from an OC-1 (one-person outrigger canoe). V1s are traditionally defined by an open cockpit and no rudder.

Is It Hard to Paddle?

Because you have to steer with your paddle, the V1 has a much steeper learning curve than the OC1. If the wind is blowing hard from the side, you may have to take 100 consecutive strokes on one side to compensate. When you’re trying to catch a wave, it can be really difficult to simultaneous apply explosive power while turning the nose in the direction you need to go. And then when you drop in on the wave, you need to put all of your focus into keeping the canoe straight. But, the challenge and purity of steering with your paddle is also what makes it so rewarding.

What Conditions Do V1s Work Best In?

The direction and speed of the wind determines whether a V1 is suitable. Because the hull is more efficient, an experienced V1 paddler can be faster in flat water and upwind than they would be on an OC-1. In straight downwind conditions, V1 paddlers are generally only slightly slower than their counterparts on an OC1 just because the canoe can be harder to connect between waves. As the wind comes more from the side, V1 paddling gets progressively more difficult because the canoe will always want to round up into the wind. Novice V1 paddlers should not go out on windy days or downwind runs until they have spent a lot of time on the canoe.

How do V1 designs differ from OC1?

We believe that the beauty of the V1 comes from the connection between the stroke, the canoe, and the ocean. To maintain control without a rudder your stroke is being continuously formed by the ocean. And va’a design is forged out of this interaction between the paddler and the water. What makes a canoe go fast doesn’t make it go straight; what makes a canoe go straight doesn’t make it responsive in the surf; and what makes a canoe responsive in the surf doesn’t make it go fast. Rudderless design is a balance between these three competing features.

How do you keep the cockpit from filling up with water?

In rough ocean conditions, the cockpit will take in water. Many V1s come with a footpump that attaches to the footbrace which will allow you to suck water out with every stroke. While the footpump will keep the canoe dry in most ocean conditions, it is possible to fill up the cockpit after a huli. The canoe will always have positive buoyancy (because bulkheads seal off the bow and stern), but it is important to practice recovering from a huli to make sure that you are able to partially drain the canoe by pushing the cockpit upwards as you flip it back over. Even with a footpump, it is important to always bring a bailer with you.

Where do people race V1s?

Other than Hawai’i, V1s are the dominant form of racing craft throughout Polynesia. They are also used exclusively in the IVF World Sprints and IVF World Distance Championships.

For more information on our V1 canoe click here.

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