I had a chance to try out Outrigger Zoneʻs “STORM” yesterday in some smoking conditions. The trades were blowing 25-30+ with bumps and whitecaps everywhere. Perfect conditions for a test-drive. Went with my normal group of training partners, most were on pueos and we did a total of 1:45min, some uphill intervals with a lot of downhill pushes. Hereʻs what I noticed:
Rigging the canoe, you notice how light the canoe is. The wind was blowing right onto the beach, sand stinging kine trades. Putting the ama down, it almost blew away. Thats how light this canoe is. Pressing around the hull and ama the construction felt pretty solid. No areas where you could squeeze in and feel much flex or soft spots. Outrigger Zone put back the Iako pins of old, which I really like compared to the twist sleeves the second gen hurricanes had (which made for the iako to come out of the hull while paddling, super dangerous). The rigging of the iako into the ama is the same as the second gen hurricane (place iako in ama then turn toward hull to secure). It felt snug turing and secure but like my old hurricane, but I would be concerned about the grooves wearing down and becoming loose eventually. A couple hurricanes have had incident where the iako came out of the ama while paddling because the locking grooves wore down so much. Makes for another potentially dangerous situation. Picking up the canoe and walking to the water was a dream, so light, its the lightest canoe on the market for sure!
Hopping on, right away I noticed the seat. The Storm I tried did not have a lot of seat to it. The seat maybe was 14″ in length and (for my height, 5ʻ9″) the back of it did not touch the back of the cockpit. This made the seat feel flimsy and when pushing of the legs you could really feel the flex in the seat (to me this equals to power lose). The seat was comfortable and thick but not long enough, spanning the entire cockpit area. People have mentioned that the seating area of the Storm is to wide but for me it didn’t feel so bad. The canoe felt comfortable and not tippy, it had a good overall balance.
Paddling out, the canoe felt pretty responsive, good pedal-to-rudder reaction. I did notice the foot pedals were wide, tall and flimsy, not stiff like kai waʻa (hawaii made) and kamanu pedals. The pedals are probably extremely light compared to aluminum pedals but these tended to flex noticeably. In the surf I noticed them even more, (for me) it felt like it did affect rudder reaction when trying to connect with bumps.
Upwind, we did a series of 20-25min intervals at around 75-80% effort. The Storm (for me) felt a little to big in the front (the area right by the front iako sleeve). I noticed the canoe easier to move angling the hull right, at a side angle of the oncoming chop, more so than the pueo I have used, which cuts through chop a little better. The volume in that area of the Storm (for me) made it feel like the front was being pushed over the oncoming chop and slammed you down once going over. This to me killed the momentum and hull speed, having to start back from zero each time it happened. One uphill run I found myself way far off to the right of the group because I had to angle so much to avoid the hull from slamming.
Downwind, we lined up as a group and did a series of three 15-20min intervals, one at a 15min race pace, one at 85% effort and the last at a 80% downwind effort. Knowing where Im usually at going downhill with the group I noticed the following, I had a hard time jumping onto the bumps. With the pueo, I can take a few aggressive strokes and hop right on the push. With the Storm, I just couldn’t jump on bumps as easy. I had to go over my desired effort/heart-rate and force the canoe to get on the push. This took a lot of effort and by the third downhill interval I was exhausted. Once I got onto the bump the Storm carried well, I thought it had a little more carry than the pueo. Its just the effort I had to spend to get onto the bumps (for me) did not compensate a better carry. The guys that I am used to out surfing were next to me or ahead. Also in the surf, reaction time to move the canoe right or left felt slower than im used to.
By the end of the 1:45min workout I was spent. For me it took so much to get the Storm onto the bumps. In walking the canoe up after I noticed two things, the hull filled with water and the right pedal was starting to come off the hinge. It seems like the screw-in plug (maybe “O” ring) leaks just like the hurricaneʻs of old and the “L” shaped pin securing the pedal onto the hinge was coming out. We drained out at least 5 cups of water.
All in all I think there are gems with the Storm. Its a beautiful looking canoe, love the black (wish the logos wernt so big). The overall weight is amazing and seems like the construction is very strong. I like the bungee set-up in both the front and back of cockpit (great for an extra paddle and a water pack). Its well-balanced in the ama/rigging department and comfortable in the seat area. The ama didn’t feel like it was dragging, I could fly it easy, and I like the iakos (I just wish they didnt use the turn-locking system in the ama). The footwell drains are awesome! in the conditions we were in, I had less than a half-inch of water during the entire time. The only question I would have, does that type of under-hull suction drain add significant resistance? I ask because i sure can feel when a small leaf gets caught on my rudder.
On the drive home that night I kept finding myself wanting to like the Storm. The weight is so amazing, I want a canoe that light! I just wish the front had less volume, (maybe pinched in a little, idk) and the other small things were easy fixes. I kept telling myself I could just take the screw plug out and install a standard plug, that i could get me a seat that would fit the entire seating area, the pedal flex I could probably adjust to, and I could just fix the”L” pin so it woudnt come out.
I do think that Outrigger Zone has taken OC1 construction to the next level and will help to restore the reputation China built canoes have in the OC1 community here in Hawaii.
This article was written as a personal review of the canoe I tried. In searching the Internet for feedback I could not find much about the Storm and how it performs so I figure Iʻd share my own thoughts after trying it. I am not affiliated with any any canoe manufacture, I am just in the market for a new OC1 and will continue to try out the ones that interests me. Mahalo for reading!