Life As An Outrigger Paddler: On And Off The Water

You may wonder, just as I did, what exactly is Outrigger Paddling? While this sport, or as some say, “way of life,” may seem foreign, Outrigger Paddling is an international sport that has been around for many years. This team and individual sport plays a huge role in many people’s lives, including a few paddlers I had the pleasure of chatting with, Juliet Jones, Corey Simpson, and Carol Shick. Fortunately for us, these experts took the time to answer some questions about Outrigger Paddling to help us get a better sense about what Outrigger Paddlers do!

First, due to our lack of knowledge regarding Outrigger Paddling, Juliet and Corey gave us an inside look of what this type of paddling actually is. To start, Outrigger Paddling originated in Polynesia and revolves around the actual outrigger canoe. The canoe has a balancer, also known as an outrigger (formally known as an Ama) on the side that keeps the boat from tipping side to side. Juliet enthusiastically points out that “throughout Hawaii, New Zealand, mainland USA, Tahiti, and beyond, paddling, is a culture!” These paddlers create teams that become clubs which Juliet points out becomes their “Ohana,” or family. Those who start Outrigger Paddling should beware that, according to Juliet, your life will change once you start paddling!

Because this sport is not very popular here in Santa Barbara, we wondered how Juliet and Corey started. Juliet explains how she grew up in Hawaii and spent her whole life surfing. Moving to the “cold” Santa Barbara, she did not enjoy getting in the water, so she started canoeing–avoiding contact with the “cold water.” On the other hand, Corey decided to enroll in a paddling class at Santa Barbara City College. Clearly, this class quickly went from being a couple extra units, to a great passion in Corey’s life.


Like any other sport, it is what you make of it. The amount of training that is required is different for each athlete. Juliet points out that the sport is extremely competitive and if you see first place medal in your future, training multiple hours a week on and off the water is essential. More specifically, Corey’s team trains three days per week during the racing season.

Because it is vital for paddlers to remain in shape during off-season, training on land is very important, especially to balance out the muscle groups to avoid injuries. Both Corey and Juliet have started training with Conditioning Specialists here in Santa Barbara. Corey states, “Before working with Conditioning Specialists I would struggle with minor injuries throughout a race season; Erin has improved my overall strength and kept my injuries at bay.” Furthermore, training in the gym helps to improve endurance, intensity, and balance to ensure success in races. Juliet even feels that Erin, here at Conditioning Specialists, has helped maximize her potential. Both Juliet and Corey have been injury free this year, thanks to Conditioning Specialists!


In the gym, Corey and Juliet recommend a variety of exercises. For example, weight training, explosives, cardio, abdominals, balance, and just about everything else! It’s very important to work all parts of the body when cross training. Also, in order to keep everything fun and interesting, it is vital to always mix it up!

Overall, Corey and Juliet only have positive things to saw about Outrigger Paddling. For the past 8 years that Corey has been canoeing, he works harder and harder each day to keep motivated in order to progress as much as possible. He finds it unique because it offers both team and individual racing. On the other hand, Juliet raves that for the past six years that she has been paddling, she believes this sport different because of the camaraderie. She loves that fact that “paddlers just want to have a good time!” The celebrations are just as important as the races to Juliet and her team. Also, the fact that they get to travel to different countries is so exciting. Just this last year her team traveled to Fiji to paddle, and coming up next year, they will go to the World Sprint Championships in Rio, Brazil. There are so many great opportunities when it comes to Outrigger Paddling, and always more things to learn and improve on. Both Juliet and Corey clearly found their passion and could not be more addicted!

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