Kahekai vs Ehukai - Puakea's New OC1

Kahekai vs. Ehukai Puakea Designs OC1By now, you have probably seen the awesome video interview with John Puakea and StandUpPaddleSurf.net that discusses his new OC1 design, the Kahekai. If you haven't, you can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNUQSUBw7OU.

We were pretty excited about this new canoe, especially since the Ehukai has become such a popular choice for OC1 paddlers in California. How did this new canoe differ? How was it the same? Who would benefit from the changes? Why did he change some things?

But ultimately it came down to this: Which is faster? Which will let me paddle farther. And which will help me have more fun on the water?

So we watched the video, and loved all the answers it gave. We did a little summary below of some of what we learned from the video and after reaching out to the local Puakea Designs team in California, to see how it is different.

Goals and accomplishes with this new canoe design:

  • Catch bumps earlier.
  • Carry longer on a wave.
  • Be dryer in surf.
  • Hops over and through bumps better
  • The nose of this boat won't dip as much for bigger paddlers, and in downwind runs.

The ideal weight range for this new canoe will be 140-145 and up to 230+.

To accomplish the goals above the following tweaks were made:

  • 1/4" wider in hull to get more flotation for bigger paddlers, and help give more speed in the top end.
  • The seat is dropped 1/4" lower to aid in stability for lower center of gravity.
  • Footwells are narrower, and dropped lower, for added stability.
  • Gunwales/Rails on the cockpit are higher from front iako to mid seat, to assist in keeping water out of the cockpit.
  • Front bow is 3/4" taller to help reduce the nose dipping in surf and keep it from pearling.
  • Rocker in the tail of the canoe was reduced to allow for more catch-ability and stay in bumps and made slightly wider ("1/4").
  • Rudder was moved up 3", which should keep it locked in to the water more for added control.

These characteristics remained pretty much the same as the Ehukai:

  • Volume in the bottom
  • Seat placement.
  • Ama has not undergone any known changes and maintains its trim.
  • Maintains its very responsive feel when you start paddling.

Will there be different versions?

  • Standard Lay-up $4300.00 (includes bag and multiple color options)
  • Ultralight Pro Model 16lb $5000.00 (will include heavier duty bag, fancier paintjobs, various rudders)

So when do these canoes hit California and how do you get one?

According to Maddie Spoto the SoCal Puakea Rep, "we will have demo canoes coming our early July shipment and stock boats for sale in our mid-late August shipment. If you want to order a Pro model Kahe Kai or get custom colors, we are stating to collect those orders now for a Winter 2016 shipment."

If demand for the Ehukai was any indication, we are sure there will be pretty high demand. Therefore, we suggest visiting the PuakeaDesigns.com for info and of course reaching out to the California Reps (NorCal: Charlie Banfield. SoCal: Maddie Spoto) who are known for answering all your questions, getting you on demos, and working out delivery/pickup options to locations nearby.


So, we are excited to see this canoe on our waters. And are sure you are too. Any feedback or questions, let us know in the comments below and we will do our best to ask the Puakea team!


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  • JACK WARU - October 09, 2018

    im from new zealand i like what i see in your waka the kaheki wht would the price be to buy in new zealand money for oc1

  • Jocko - July 23, 2018

    I’ve owned my Kahe Kai since January 2018 here in Santa Cruz. I love the boat. I’m 195lbs and it feels like it could carry much more weight with no problem. I haven’t found any drawbacks. (It should be noted that I came from an OC6 background and so this was my first OC1) Great company support.

  • Cali Padddler - March 12, 2018

    Gary Hernandez, between these two, we would lean towards the Kahekai based on your weight and height. If you are open to other canoe makers, the Antares and Scorpius XM (not as new but solid) by Kai Wa’a and the Pueo X by Kamanu Composites would all be worth trying as well. That said the water types you are going to be in might be a factor too.

    We feel comfort in the canoe is a big factor so make sure you get a chance to demo the ones you are looking at. We don’t paddle well when we are uncomfortable and any speed gains ore offset by misery. :)

  • Gary Hernandez - February 25, 2018

    I weigh 235… 6-0… Need my first oc1, want stable/smooth over speed
    Any suggestions on where to start?

  • Cali Paddler - August 23, 2017

    Thanks for your comment.It is our understanding the Kahekai somes from OZONE which manufactures it in China.

  • Cali Paddler - August 23, 2017

    George True,
    Thank you for your comment. It is our understanding based on the video interview with John Puakea, and feedback from Danny Ching at our CP Retreat in March where both were brought to demo, that the Ehukai works very effectively for paddlers who weigh more than 145. However, there were changes made in the KaheKai that shifted the waterlines and and helped benefit paddlers heavier than that. So that if you were in fact heavier, you would benefit from these adjustments, more than say someone weighing less than 150. That is not to say a paddler in the 165-185 can’t be fast on the Ehukai. But the design evolved after feedback from paddlers and testing, including those who weighed more, and the KaheKai was born based on integrating that feedback.

    Our recommendation, reach out to Puakea Designs and send in your comprehensive specs (height, weight, leg length, paddle length, and waters you plan to paddle in) to them to get it straight from the source.

  • George True - August 22, 2017

    This review stated that the ‘ideal’ weight of paddler for this new design is 140-145 pounds. I was a bit surprised to read that. Very few men are that light weight. I am not heavy by any means, about 165-170, which most people would consider ‘average’ weight. I doubt that even five percent of adult males and thus adult male paddlers weigh 145 lbs or under. So who is this boat made for?? Apparently not for the great majority of paddlers if this projected ‘ideal’ weight of 140-145 is actually true. So at my weight, which boat, the Ehukai or the Kahekai is the one that would perform better for me long term?

  • markvmac - July 04, 2017

    Are these Kahekai canoes built in Hawaii or China ?

  • Cali Paddler - June 30, 2016

    John Grimes, thanks for your comment. While we have not paddled them both, which is ultimately the real test, we can ‘speculate’ the following based on what we learned and shared above…

    ~That the Kahekai has improved upon its surfability from the Ehukai for all paddlers, so you can paddle farther and faster in bump/wind conditions. Both upwind and downwind.
    ~Made it a better performer for those who are 200lbs and over.

    Personally we see this canoe as a refinement of the Ehukai, not a huge design change. And a canoe that is made to perform better for paddlers over 200lbs versus the Ehukai.

    So to answer the questions, our takeaways are that: it looks like if you are in ocean conditions, versus flat water, or a bigger paddler, this new design will help you paddle faster, longer and have more fun. That said, smaller paddlers, and those with time spent in bays and predominantly flat water, may not see as much of a performance change, and may look to stick with the Ehukai.

    One other interesting thought….John Puakea has been very influential in sharing his learnings of the Tahitian stroke over the last few years, through clinics, coaching, and videos. One could speculate that he is designing canoes to pair nicely with certain strokes to maintain a glide. So, yah, just more to think about! :) Ha!

    Disclaimer, all of this is speculation based on the video dialog in the link above and from reading press releases and website info from Puakea Designs. Also, as canoes go from generation to generation, it seems the advancements are smaller and smaller with each generation (although the Ehukai was a big step) so we too wonder if this will be leaps and bounds different (think Hurricane era) or just a continuation of squeezing out every possible efficiency from nose to tail.

    Thank you for your thoughts.
    Clarke, Cali Paddler (Humbly submitted and certainly not experts.)

  • John Grimes - June 26, 2016

    I don’t think you answered the questions that you raised at the beginning of the article. Which canoe is. faster? Which will allow me to go farther? And which is more fun?

    I am 200 pounds and just under 6ft, I am 47 & an experienced ocean paddler.
    I have paddled the Ehukai and loved it, I was about to buy one when I heard about the Kahe Kai o which I might be. better suited.
    I look forward to your opinion.



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