All about the V1 - Interview with Will Reichenstein on Paddling Rudderless Canoes

Rudderless V1 Questions Will Reichenstein[ Cali Paddler is thrilled to have had the chance to interview one of California's premiere outrigger paddlers about one of the most increasingly popular craft folks are entering in races. We are talking about Will Reichenstein, and rudderless canoes, (V1s). You aren't gong to want to miss this, so let's get started! ]

Hi Will, as someone who paddles every craft we can get our hands on, the rudderless canoe (aka the V1) has had a lot of mystique. We know it is popular in Tahiti, and some of the races we watched online show us that some of the top paddlers in the world race them. That said, we have tons of questions and likely some misconceptions about the rudderless canoe (va'a) and so are grateful to have your help in sharing your stoke and knowledge on this craft. Where would you like to begin?

Let me start by giving you a quick insight to when I first started paddling V1.  Like many California paddlers I began paddling an OC1.  For a couple years starting out I only paddled 1 man, but with world sprints coming to Sacramento in 2008, a close family friend Gary Vose bought 2 V1’s from Timi Va’a in Tahiti for the NAC Jr’s and myself to train in.  The concept of V1 was very foreign to us as kids, but growing up in Newport Beach where it seems to be perpetually flat, the V1 added a ton of frustration, intrigue, and much needed development in our flat water training.

Fai Vaa Rudderless V1 Will Reichenstein

What I mean by that is the V1 helped me mostly to understand how a canoe wants to react in the flat, and ocean bump unassisted by rudder (obviously) which taught me how to predict the canoes natural movements.  Using that feeling and applying it to the OC1 helped me to make my steering and surfing anticipation much better.

Fast forward to today, I’m lucky enough to own both crafts, OC1 and V1.  I use both these crafts as a supplement to one another.  Each teaches me a little something more about the other when I switch on and off between them.  I understand that a lot of people are not in a position to own 2 canoes and that makes the decision of buying a V1 very difficult, but the way things are now the V1 is still, and will be for a while, a secondary canoe.  If you have a chance to split the cost and ownership with friends or a club, I highly recommend it.  Now to some questions specifically!

Sounds great! First off, the following are a few common questions we have heard:

•    So how am I supposed to turn it? What makes the V1 different than paddling a rudder canoe? Does it require different muscle groups to steer and paddle? Is the stroke different? Is it harder? What conditions can I paddle it in?

Turning is not as difficult as you would think, yet still not the easiest of tasks.  Imagine the V1 as a mini 6 man.  In California, rarely are you making major 180 degree turns, races are usually comprised of plenty small corrections and with enough anticipation you can get around a buoy turn without much issue.  We’re not dealing with a lot of surf action and needing big pokes in California, which is ideal for the beginners learning the V1.  Small corrections and changing sides are the key to keeping your V1 on track.

•    Does it make me faster on my OC1?

I definitely urge anyone thinking about getting into V1 to try one out if they can, because I do believe they help make you a more well rounded paddler.  Anyone interested can always reach out to me directly if they have any interest in the Fai Va’a 3X or Kai Wa’a canoes, the Gemini and Ares models.

Fai Vaa Rudderless V1 Canoe Will Reichenstein

•    Are they hard to rig?

Rigging is definitely different than OC1, but the basic principles still apply same as they do to OC6.  Shimming can be necessary depending on your weight and rig preference, but you have to be willing to take the time to dial in your rig and play around with the different options.  You can move your iakos closer or further from you, shim the ama light or heavy, it totally depends on how you want to set it up.

Super great info Will, we are more stoked than ever on V1. In our past conversations we learned of even more benefits of owning/paddling v1 including

  • less moving parts to break/maintain,
  • lower cost,
  • more pure experience,
  • better at reading the water
  • and making changes).

Fai Va'a Rudderless Canoe V1 Will Reichenstein

What do we do from here if we are interested in paddling and possibly buying a V1? What do they cost?

If anyone is interested in purchasing a Fai Va’a or Kai Wa’a canoe they can contact me directly through the Wa’a House’s Facebook and Instagram pages to get more details.  Right now I have the Fai 3X fiberglass layup for $3k and Ozone’s Kai Wa’a Canoes Ares & Gemini.

Thanks so much Will! We are stoked to have had the chance to pick your brain and learn more. See you on the water!

About the Author
Rudderless Questions Will ReichensteinBobbie and Will Reichenstein co-own the Wa’a House and are California born paddlers with a passion for travel and post race beers. Give them a shout, and be sure to check out their great sponsors Kai Wa’a Canoes, Fai Va’a, Oiwi Ocean Gear.

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