A Kailua Camp For Serious Paddlers

Jim Foti and other Kailua paddlers are sharing their expertise PHOTO FROM RICK LETON

Jim Foti and other Kailua paddlers are sharing their expertise PHOTO FROM RICK LETON

Kailua Beach is one of the most popular destinations in all of Hawaii, with millions visiting the picturesque shoreline every year.

But what many of those visitors may not be aware of is that the scenic bay also is home to some of the world’s best canoe paddlers — who are willing to share their knowledge with those who want to learn.

Welcome to Pogue Sports’ OC Camp Program. Since 2008, Pogue Sports has provided coaching clinics and camps to help tune the skills of Hawaii paddlers.

“We want to continue growing the sport of outrigger canoe paddling worldwide by educating paddlers and potential coaches properly,” explains veteran paddler and program lead coach Jim Foti. “We are ambassadors of the sport, and we encourage each individual in the camp to become an ambassador to those who know less than them.”

The camp’s sessions are held in various conditions, from flat water to open-ocean swells. The goal is to challenge each camper’s technique and canoe skills, while focusing on improving them by using video analysis, team building, land training and fitness.

“The video analysis helps to pinpoint each paddler’s weak points and reinforces the positives,” says Foti, a member of Lanikai Canoe Club since 1975. “We strive to enrich the lives of paddlers by instilling the ideas of why we paddle and what makes outrigger canoe paddling such a special and unique sport.

“Of course, we aim to teach paddlers something new every day and leave them with smiles on their faces!”

Coaches place paddlers in either a standard or an advanced group based on a video assessment of their skills on the first day of camp. And while all paddlers have the opportunity to paddle in different conditions, decisions are made by coaches to what is safe, based on ocean conditions.

“One of the main prerequisites is that you must already have paddled,” says Foti, who has won nearly every major outrigger race, including the Molokai Hoe five times. “We are not a first-time, beginners paddler’s camp, but a camp for paddlers who already know how to paddle and want to learn more.”

Paddlers also must be able to swim and must notify camp organizers of any major medical issues.

“Paddlers don’t need canoes, but must bring their own paddles,” says Foti. “We provide some of the best OCs on the market, including Kai Waa Scorpius models, Puakea Designs’ Ehukai and the other canoes manufactured by Outrigger Zone.”

Besides Foti, the camp’s world-class coaches include Kai Chong of Hui Nalu Canoe Club, Kailua Canoe Club coaches Kawai Mahoe and Mark Shark, and Donna Kahakui of Outrigger Canoe Club. Kahakui has won nearly every major outrigger canoe race, including the Na Wahine o Ke Kai twice.

“The camps will be held Monday through Friday twice in February (2015), twice in March and twice in April,” says Foti. “We key in on each individual’s technical needs, and with smaller groups, coaches are able to give more attention to each paddler.”

While Foti is contracted by Pogue Sports to manage the camps, he and his team (Foti Bros.) also hold private coaching camps and clinics for individuals and groups that can’t make the OC Camps in the spring.

“We feed the sport by working with some of the best manufacturers of OC-1s, Surfskis and SUPs to market, promote and sell their paddling products at our shop in Kapaa Quarry,” says Foti. “My wife Joey and I are also the catalyst of Kanaka Ikaika Racing Association, which is dedicated to enriching ocean paddle sports by putting on quality events that enhance health and wellness of our community, maintain the culture of the Islands and help steward our coastal environment.”

To register for the OC Camps, go to poguesports.com. To learn more about the Kanaka Ikaika Racing Association, visit kanakaikaika.com.