Richard E. Butts

Engineering, Artwork, Competition, For the Fun of It

Outrigger Steersperson

Steering Outrigger canoes is something I've been doing for well over 5 years now. I've steered for SportsNet a division of Rochester Rehabilitation, for Cape Ability Outrigger Ohana at their annual Rochester River Challenge and for The Ribbon Regatta presented by the Hope Chest Dragon Boat Team.

Its enjoyable to help people get out on the water and participate as a team. The outrigger configuration most common in this area is called a "double hulled four". It is two four person hulls held together with straight yakus*. With space for eight people and the side-by-side arrangement it makes for a serious physical fitness activity along with a pleasant social activity.

As you might imagine the steersperson's job is more than just keeping the boat going in the desired direction. Steerspeople are usually responsible for getting the ~350 lb. boat into and out of the water along with one or more helpers. The participant's safety is the steersperson's responsiblity too - lifejackets, appropriate paddling technique and awareness of each person's physical ability, limitations and situation - they are all part of what the steersperson does. Then there is the participant's enjoyment of the outing - usually aided by a few jokes, mostly good but a few bad. Did you hear about the mud covered duck that dodged traffic just to run across the road and back? Yep, you guessed it, he was a dirty double crosser!

* On a single hull outrigger there is a float attached to the boat on the left side. That float is called an 'ama' and the wooden arm that connects the float to the hull is called a 'yaku'.

Steering the DC-8 Outrigger with a group of recreational paddlers.
Steering for Recreational Paddlers

It is an honor to steer the DC-8 for Wounded Warriors participating in the Rochester River Challenge.
Steering for the Wounded Warriors