Ocean enthusiasts are all ages

Senior Shirley does it all, even paddles.

by Shirley Lorraine

The Ventura Outrigger Canoe Club is one of several outrigger clubs that launch from Harbor Cove beach at the end of Spinnaker Drive. Their Halau (clubhouse) serves as a meeting place and storage area for their equipment. Their colorful red and yellow canoes render them easily visible, even in the early morning mist.

The club’s purpose is to enable a wide range of people and groups to enjoy recreational ocean paddling sports, ocean conservation and education. While the primary focus is on traditional 6-seat Polynesian style canoes, the club also maintains one- and two-seat canoes for member use and promotes paddling sports of all kinds. The club has been going strong since 2006 and boasts members with a wide range of ages.

Over a third of their membership is over age 70. Recently, a hardy crew of six of these adventurous seniors paddled their way up to Ventura County’s Mondos Beach and back, about 19 miles. One of the members, Debbie, celebrated her 72nd birthday on that trip!

The club meets several times a week. Sundays are invitational days for new participants. A senior myself, I eagerly signed their waiver form that indicated I could swim and would be a safe rider and listened carefully to some basic instructions including what to do in the unlikely event the canoe should huli (capsize). Good to be prepared. And yes, I paddled – to just beyond the pier and back! Surrounded by experienced and encouraging paddlers, I found it easy to quickly get into the rhythm by following their lead. I was told the proper way to stroke with the paddle and was assured that I wouldn’t be sore the next day. I was surprised when I found that to be true! Technique really does matter.

At the halfway point we took a rest break and just enjoyed the calming ambiance of the water and birds. It was easy to see the meditational appeal of outrigger canoeing.

Some members are preparing to participate in the annual Queen Lili’uokalani Race in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii featuring events August 29 through September 2 where paddlers of all ages will convene.

The non-profit club regularly participates in community events such as beach clean-up, Caregivers of Ventura County Sailathons, and the Ventura Aloha Festival. Members also volunteer with the Best Day Foundation to assist kids with special needs enjoy an outrigger excursion day at the beach.

Take a look at the club’s website – www.venturaoutriggercanoeclub.org to get more information. Give outrigger canoeing a try. You may find it’s just the right way for you to get some exercise and mental relaxation at the same time.

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