Outrigger Canoeing and CAOO

Cape Ability Outrigger Ohana, Inc. (CAOO) provides paddling opportunities to individuals of all abilities. CAOO focuses on providing inclusive outrigger canoeing programs to people living in Western New York (Greater Rochester and Greater Buffalo areas).  The outrigger canoes used for CAOO group programming are DC-8s (Double-Canoe that seats 8 people) and are very stable, making it ideal for introducing people to the water and safe for individuals who have a physical, intellectual, or emotional challenge. A trained steersperson always guides the boat and ensures a safe and fun experience for the paddlers. 

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What is an outrigger canoe?

An outrigger canoe is a long and thin canoe that is supported by an outrigger, or "ama" that provides stability to the boat. The boat originates from the Polynesian islands and is commonly paddled in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands because it can be paddled through the ocean waves without capsizing.  

When the outrigger canoe is configured as a DC8 (pictured at left), there are two 4-person hulls that are connected by two wooden "iakos", which make the boat very stable.  The outrigger canoe can be taken for a leisurely paddle or raced at speed, as they are in the Rochester River Challenge's sprint races!  

CAOO offers group paddling opportunities to many community groups that serve individuals who have a disability, including agencies like Heritage Christian Services and the Finger Lakes DDSO as well as community groups such as Together Including Every Student (TIES) and School of the Holy Childhood.  Paddlers delight in being out on the water and experiencing nature from the waterways while getting physical exercise.     

Paddlesport Training Opportunities

CAOO provides recreational programming but also trains athletes for local, national and international competition.  Jan Whitaker, CAOO founder and President, has worked long and hard advocating for the sport of Paracanoe to be added to the Paralympic Games. In December 2010, the International Paralympic Committee voted paracanoe into the Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016; the world will soon be able to see this sport showcased in Brazil and watch talented athletes compete.  

CAOO has a variety of options for paddlers with the following equipment available:

  • V-1 (rudderless outrigger canoe)
  • K-1 (single kayak)
  • K-2 (tandem kayak)
  • OC-2 (tandem outrigger canoe with rudder)