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CANOE NEWS Spring 2010 Vol 43/1

Diane Sturmer and Andy Geis paddling together - see inside.


Vol 43 Issue 1

CANOE NEWS Photo Š 2006 by Kevin Carr

The magazine for marathon competition paddlers throughout North America

This extract features articles and information on adaptive paddling from the Spring 2010 edition of USCA Canoe News. On August 10, 2010, USCA inaugurates two new Sprint Championships for Paddlers with Physical Disabilities in Solo Va’a (outrigger) and K1 (divisions for both men and women) at the USCA National Canoe & Kayak Championships in Peshtigo, WI

USCA Welcomes ParaCanoe Paddlers Few people seeing them would realize that these elite paddlers (in Florida for winter training) each have a disability. Left to right: Christine Selinger, Chris Pearson (in back), Tony Flores (in front), Christine Gauthier, Tammy Jopson (in back), Tami Saj (in front in OC-1).

Adaptive Paddling at USCA’s Championships in Peshtigo, WI — Freedom on the Water most satisfying experiences USCA’s New National Sprint Championships the on earth, whether the person for Paddlers with Physical Disabilities is powering their own boat, New PK1 & PV1 Championship Classes to Debut at Peshtigo Nationals or is paired with a partner. In USCA initiates two new solo classes to replace the DC8 outrigger the case of someone who has a disability, all that is required is format in its national championships in 2010. Here, Kevin Carr gives some background to adaptive paddling in to find ways to compensate for general; Jan Whitaker outlines the evolution over the last decade whatever loss of function they have experienced. It can be of both national and international competitive paddling for paddlers with physical disabilities and explains the basis for USCA’s as simple as a slight modificaformat; Canoe News provides a glossary of terms! tion of stroke technique or as involved as a full seating system that enables a person to “come Adaptive Paddling Opens Doors and Removes Barriers along for the ride”. With prop. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kevin Carr, Chosen Valley Creating Ability er support, safe equipment, and was standing on the shore of They hadn’t thought paddling a good education, paddling can a lake just outside of Cleve- canoe or kayak would be poschange how you look at water. land, Ohio. My fellow partici- sible for someone with a disAdvances in equipment are pants in an ACA Adaptive Pad- ability. One of the great joys making adapting a canoe or of my “job” is to explain a great kayak much safer and simpler, dling Workshop were out for a Sunday afternoon paddle. A truth: disability isn’t a barrier and opening the sport to those couple walking past on a hiking to paddling. As a matter of who may have been excluded path stopped to chat: “What’s fact, paddling is a path to great previously. Kayak seating has freedom. with all of the wheelchairs? evolved to include multiple adWhere are the people?” I Water is an incredible equalizer. justments and higher backrests. pointed to the group out on the When on the water, land-based Larger cockpits allow for easier water: “Those chairs belong to barriers disappear. Everyone is transfers and safer wet-exits. about half of the folks out on Whitewater outfitting includat eye level with one another. the water. Can you tell which The feel of floating on water ing seat cushions, hip supports ones they are?” They couldn’t. and knifing through it is one of and thigh supports can custom-

Freedom on the Water


12th Annual Rochester River Challenge Outrigger Canoe Sprint Races in Rochester, NY in 2007. The race organizer was Cape Ability Outrigger Ohana (CAOO), whose president, Jan Whitaker, is USCA’s Adaptive Padding Chair. CAOO is a chapter of DS/USA (Disabled Sports USA).


Photo copyright © 2007, courtesy of Cape Ability Outrigger Ohana, Inc

Freedom on the Water

Chris Pearson, of Regina, SK, Canada, paddling an Albatross OC1 with a Chosen Valley adaptive paddling support seat.

ize seating to fit the individual’s needs quickly and easily, without compromising safety. The addition of efficient outriggers and adaptive seating with lateral supports can give stability to a sleek canoe or kayak, allowing a paddler to slice through the water efficiently – even if they have issues with balance. Safety is a primary concern in any sport, and proper education is critical to safety. The American Canoe Association ( provides training for instructors through regional adaptive paddling workshops. Local ACA certified instructors provide instruction in paddling and work with paddlers to safely adapt their boats. The ACA has declared 2010 the “Year of Inclusive Paddling,” so there is no time like the present to get involved. For veterans and those currently serving in the military, Team River Runner ( provides instruction and equipment through VA fa-

cilities across the country. TRR has grown from a program serving wounded service members at Walter Reed Medical Center to a nationwide organization promoting healing through paddling. The ACA and TRR are working together to expand the range of paddlers who can safely enjoy the sport. In recent years, adaptive paddling has expanded beyond recreation and into the world of competitive racing. In 2008, the first full medal adaptive events were featured at the International Va’a Federation (IVF) World Sprints in Sacramento, CA. Teams from east and west US coasts, Hawaii, England and Italy competed in several divisions. Last year the IVF and ICF (International Canoe Federation) combined to include adaptive events in the 2009 ICF World Sprints in Nova Scotia. This summer, adaptive divisions will feature in the USCA Sprint Championships in Peshtigo, WI and at the 2010 World Sprints


in Poznan, Poland. All of these events further the effort to include kayaking/outrigger canoeing in the Paralympic Games. The competitive spirit is alive and well in adaptive sports, and the world of canoeing and kayaking is in full bloom as a vehicle to scratch that competitive itch – not to mention the fitness aspect that improves the quality of a person’s life. So here’s the bottom line: paddlesports can offer peace, freedom, exercise, and competition. It can be an activity enjoyed Mike Powers, Williamstown, MA with a kayak paddle hand adaptation made by Chosen Valley.

Upper photo copyright © 2010 by Kevin Carr Lower photo copyright © 2009 by Amy Moore-Powers

Freedom on the Water

what a blessing this has been. I’ve watched a team of Wounded Warriors remove their prosthetics, transfer out of their wheelchairs, pick up paddles and smoke a team of ROTC cadets in an outrigger race. I’ve seen a husband and wife paddle off together and enjoy a shared activity – something they had been unable to find since an accident broke his spine. I’ve watched – see left – as a young man who couldn’t see or hear sat morosely holding his paddle – until a volunteer placed her hands on his and showed him how to move his paddle through the water. His face erupted in a gigantic grin (and guess what? Her smile was even bigger than his!).

The joy of paddling and friendship – see below. Here, Diane Sturmer of Heritage Christian Services* and Andy Geis enjoy paddling in CAOO’s outrigger canoe program. * See “ParaGlossary,” next page.

by families, friends, and total strangers. Disability doesn’t need to be seen as a barrier to any of that – as a matter of fact, it can provide an entirely new perspective on the sport. We embrace and take great pleasure in many of these elements at Creating Ability ( Our small family business (ok, large family, small business) designs and manufactures seating with multiple adjustments

Photo copyright © 2006 by Kevin Carr

and lateral support that can be mounted into many types and brands of watercraft. We also produce several types of hand adaptations and fully outfitted boats. Our goal is to enable everyone to get on the water safely and to enjoy it. In the past 5 years, we’ve had the rare privilege of sharing in the journey of adaptive paddlers, teachers and organizations across the country and around the world. I can’t fully express


Each event I attend leaves me driving home with ideas racing through my mind, impatiently waiting for their opportunity to come to life in the little shop that I call home. Like anything else in life, “disability” cannot be narrowly defined, so our task is endless – but so is our joy. Come and share in that joy! Kevin Carr will be on hand at the 2010 USCA National Canoe & Kayak National Championships in Peshtigo, WI, August 10 to demonstrate some of the adaptations that his family business has developed to help paddlers with disabilities.

ParaKayak & ParaVa’a at USCA’s Championships in Peshtigo, WI — Background and Format presented “Outrigger Canoeing, United States Canoe Associaa Sport for Paddlers in all Major tion has changed the format of Disability Groups involved in the sprint championships for Paralympic Sport” to encourage paddlers with physical disabilithe use of va’a as the single blade ties, moving from an outrigger sport for athletes with disabiliThe United States Canoe Associamultiperson team format to a ties. tion has welcomed paddlers with solo format to reflect the prog• 2008 – IVF offered V12, V6 disabilities into its national canoe ress of ParaCanoe towards inand V1 World Championship & kayak championships since clusion in Paralympic Games. Sprint Races for Adaptive Pad2001 when the first exhibition Beginning this year, solo PV1 dlers in 2008 in Sacramento, outrigger canoe races were held (solo ParaVa’a) and solo PK1 California at Lake Lanier. These inaugural (solo ParaKayak) 500 meter exhibition races played an im• 2009 (July) – ICF and IVF sprint races are scheduled for portant role in the inspiration signed an agreement to form paddlers having a physical and subsequent development of a working party to unite their paddle sports opportunities for disability in any of the major efforts to promote the sport of paddlers with disabilities: va’a for inclusion in 2016 Para- disability groups (amputa• 2004 (April) – USA Canoe/ lympic Games tions, cerebral palsy, spinal Kayak (USACK) included ex• 2009 (August) – ICF World cord injury, blind) involved in hibition outrigger canoe sprint Sprint Championships, held Paralympic sport. races for paddlers with disabiliin Nova Scotia, included inauThe ICF excludes the category ties in the schedule of races at gural K1, K2 and V2 races for of blind and visually impaired; 2004 USACK Olympic Trials ParaCanoe (also ParaKayak and USCA will include this cate• 2004 – International Va’a FedParaVa’a) paddlers; International gory because the IVF supports eration (outrigger canoe) includCanoe Federation terminology the inclusion of blind paded one V12 exhibition race for PaddleAll, PaddleAbility, Candlers in their bi-annual World adaptive paddlers in the 2004 Canoe changed to ParaCanoe Sprint Championships. The IVF World Sprints in Hawaii • 2009 (October) – ICF started IVF uses only rudderless va’a; • 2005 – USCA included inauthe application process for ingural Outrigger Canoe Sprint solo va’a with rudders will clusion of ParaCanoe in ParaRace National Championships for lympic Games in 2016 be allowed in USCA Canoe paddlers with disabilities • 2010 (August) – ICF will of& Kayak because rudderless • 2006 – IVF included exhibifer Para Canoe races in their V1s are not widely available tion V12, V6 and V1 races in World Sprint Championships throughout mainland USA.

USCA: Welcome, ParaCanoe Paddlers

the 2006 IVF World Sprints in New Zealand • 2007 – IVF developed a classification system for the sport of va’a • 2008 – International Canoe Federation’s PaddleAll Conference was held for the purpose of developing ICF canoe and kayak sports for inclusion in Paralympic Games; USCA’s Adaptive Paddling Chair (Jan Whitaker)

for V1 and K1 paddlers in the Legs-Trunk-Arms, Trunk-Arms and Arms only categories to encourage ICF member nations to send at least one paddler with a physical disability to the championships. Entries from 24 countries and 3 continents are needed to fulfill one of the International Paralympic Committee requirements for inclusion of sports in Paralympic Games.


USCA certified canoe instructors are encouraged to team up with a physical therapist or a certified therapeutic recreation specialist to prepare paddlers with disabilities for ParaCanoe competition in the 2010 USCA National Championships. I am confident that USCA members will be on hand to extend the traditional warm welcome to paddlers of all abilities.

A Paddling ParaGlossary: A Guide to Abbreviations, Organizations, & Terms in Adaptive Paddling

A Paddling ParaGlossary!

and Kayaking for People with Disabilities. Visit: – search “adaptive paddling” Every specialized area of human CAOO – Cape Ability Ohana Outrigger activity seems to develop its own Cape Ability Outrigger Ohana, Inc vocabulary and spawns organizais a non profit 501(c )(3) organitions, events, and terms, many with with abbreviations that might puzzle zation founded by Jan Whitaker, USCA’s Adaptive Paddling Chair, a newcomer. who brought the sport of outrigger Here’s a code breaker. canoeing to Rochester, New York in Para... 1997. The terms Paralympic and ParaCaCape Ability Outrigger Ohana, Inc noe derive from the Greek preposiis a chapter of Disabled Sports USA tion “para” (meaning “beside” or Visit: “alongside”) as in “parallel,” with the Paralympics, for example, being HCS – Heritage Christian Services Heritage Christian Services is the parallel Games to the Olympics. a nonsectarian human services Abbreviations & Organizaagency supporting more than 1,500 tions children and adults with develACA – American Canoe Association opmental disabilities through the The American Canoe Associaoperation of 57 residential homes, tion (ACA) is the USA’s oldest and service coordination, respite and largest paddlesports organiza20-day independent-living readition (founded in 1880 by Scottish ness programs. Visit: lawyer John MacGregor). ACA promotes canoeing, kayaking, and DS/USA – Disabled Sports USA rafting. The Association publishes Disabled Sports USA was founded the bi-monthly Paddler Magazine in 1967 by disabled Vietnam veter(about to make its reappearance ans. DS/USA provides opportuniafter a short hiatus). ties for individuals with physical The ACA has been a leader in di­sabilities to gain confidence and inclusive outdoor recreation for 20 dignity through sports, recreation years. 2010 marks the 20th anniver- and educational programs. The sary of the ACA Adaptive Paddling organization is the nation’s largest program. This program is designed multi-sport, multi-disability orgato provide training opportunities to nization serving more than 60,000 paddlesports instructors and propeople nationwide. DS/ USA, a gram providers, allowing a greater member of the US Olympic Comunderstanding of how to safely mittee, conducts training camps and offer inclusive paddlesports opporcompetitions to prepare athletes for tunities to all comers. the Paralympic Games. DS/USA of2010 has been identified as the fers sports rehabilitation programs “Year of Inclusive Paddlesports” through its nationwide network of and training and educational sesover 80 community-based chapters. sions are being offered throughout See also: Wounded Warriors – next the country. page. In 2009 the ACA, in cooperation Visit: with Human Kinetics and author Janet Zeller, published Canoeing ICF – International Canoe Federation


The ICF is the umbrella organization of most national canoe organizations involved in Olympic and world competion. It is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. 147 countries are affiliated with the ICF after seven national federations were added at the 2008 ICF Congress in Rome. Visit: Adaptive paddling is not easy to find on this web site, so try also USACK’s site – search “adaptive paddling”

IPC – International Paralympic Committee (also, but not in this context, the Illinois Paddling Council) Founded in 1989, the International Paralympic Committee (165 National Paralympic Committees) is the global governing body of the paralympic movement. IPC organizes the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games, and serves as the international federation for nine sports, for which it supervises and co-ordinates the World Championships and other competitions. [See note on “para” at start of this glossary.] Visit: IVF – International Va’a Federation IVF was created in 1981. Its founding members were (1) the Kalifornia Outrigger Association (KOA) now called Southern California Outrigger Racing Association (SCORA), (2) the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association (HCRA) and (3) the Federation Française de Pirogue Polynésienne (now called the Fédération Tahitienne de Va’a). Originally called the International Polynesian Canoe Federation (IPCF), it was later renamed “International Va’a Federation (IVF)” adopting “va’a” as the international term for outrigger canoe. Every two years, the IVF organizes the World Sprints Championship.

A Paddling ParaGlossary: A Guide to Abbreviations, Organizations, & Terms in Adaptive Paddling

The 13th World Sprints 2008 in Sacramento, CA, adaptive paddling was for the first time a fully recognized medal discipline in the official program. Visit: – click on the “Para Va’a” link in the link array beneath “About Va’a”.

PV1, PV2, PV6, etc – ParaVa’a labels - see “ParaVa’a” and “V1, V2, V6, etc.”

TRR – Team River Runner Team River Runner, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, gives active duty servicemembers and veterans an opportunity to find health, healing, and new challenges through whitewater boating and other paddling sports. The benefits of TRR have as much to do with creating a social network and support system as they do with learning water sports skills that provide an exciting adventure lifestyle that suddenly seemed lost due to injury. The program also encourages family members to participate whenever possible. Visit: USCA – United States Canoe Association Founded in 1968 to focus on marathon paddling competition, USCA runs a number of programs including youth development, safety and education, conservation, and adaptive paddling. It has featured adaptive paddling competition since 2001 in its annual National Canoe & Kayak Championships, and this year will inaugurate Sprint Championships for Solo Va’a and K1 at its Nationals in Peshtigo, WI (August 10, 2010). Its adaptive paddling committee is headed by Jan Whitaker. Visit: – search “adaptive paddling”.

in Charlotte, NC, promoting canoe and kayak racing in the US. A member of the United States Olympic Committee, USACK is the national governing body for the Olympic sports of Flatwater Sprint and Whitewater Slalom, and is an official US federation of the ICF. Visit: – search “adaptive paddling”

V1, V2, V6, etc – abbreviations for solo va’a, tandem va’a, six-person va’a, etc.


Adaptive paddling – This umbrella term applies to paddling with equipment designed to enable paddlers with various disabilities to participate in paddle sports. CanCanoe, PaddleAbility, PaddleAll – terms formerly used by the ICF for their adaptive paddling programs – replaced in 2009 by the term “ParaCanoe.” ParaCanoe – the general International Canoe Federation term that refers to the paddle sports of both va’a and kayak for paddlers with disabilities. ParaKayak, ParaVa’a – terms within the broader concept of ParaCanoe describing adaptive paddling for specific craft. Paralympic Games – In 1948, Sir Ludwig Guttmann organized a sports competition involving World War II veterans with a spinal cord injury in Stoke Mandeville, England. Four years later, competitors from the Netherlands joined the games and an international movement was born. Olympic-style games for athletes with a disability were organized for the first time in Rome in 1960, now called Paralympics. In Toronto in USACK – ­­United States Canoe/Kayak 1976, other disability groups were added and the idea of merging difUSA Canoe/Kayak is a non-profit ferent disability groups for internamembership organization based


tional sport competitions was born. In the same year, the first Paralympic Winter Games took place in Sweden. Today, the Paralympics are elite sport events for athletes with a disability. They emphasize, however, the participants’ athletic achievements rather than their disability. See note on “para” at start of this glossary.

Va’a – the Tahitian term for a traditional canoe (in Hawaii it is wa’a – or what those haoles (foreigners) call an “outrigger”). Outrigger canoes have been used in the Pacific for more than 4000 years, and records show that there have been races dating back almost that far. Modern va’a sport developed in Tahiti (early 19th C) and Hawaii (early 20th C) and is now spread world wide.

Wounded Warriors – ­­ There are numerous organizations and programs that have adopted the term “wounded warrior.” The Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “honor and empower wounded warriors” of the United States Armed Forces was launched in 2002 (see Each branch of US Armed Services has created its own Wounded Warrior program and each of them promotes adaptive sports as an activity that they find valuable and wish to promote. The Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project ( is a partnership between Disabled Sports USA, its chapters and the Wounded Warrior Project, providing yearround sports programs for severely wounded service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and the “Global War on Terrorism”.

Adaptive Paddling Articles from CN 43-1  

Articles by Jan Whitaker and Kevin Carr, plus a Glossary of terms and Organziations for Adaptive Paddling