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and then there was outrigging... dana outrigger racing team

What is outrigging you ask? Don't worry, valid question, I wondered the same thing... 

I've reinvented myself so many times at this point I'm losing count! Let's see... after leaving my NYC life behind in 2010, I camped across the country for a year with my dog in a teardrop camper, got certified as a yoga instructor in Pacific Palisades, California, opened a yoga studio in Laguna Beach, got signed by a fitness & sport modeling agency in LA at the ripe young age of 40 (my WTF yay me moment), and then I joined an outrigger racing team! Life is meant to be lived. Don't die before you're dead! ;-)


One month after moving to Laguna Beach, CA (May 2012) I was cruising back into the Newport Beach harbor on a friend's boat (a guy I met while I was on a Match date with another guy – crazy story. I'll save that for later, lol).

Anyway, as we entered the harbor I noticed a canoe with a hawaiian like buoy attached to one side of it with five people paddling in unison with what looked like a sixth person steering from the back. It kinda resembed rowing, sortof, but it didn't. We cruised by slow. The way the boat glided through the water was meserizing, like a butterfly. I HAD to learn more. My date graciously filled me in on the entire culture of "outrigging", which is huge in SoCal. I had to do it! I had to be an outrigger! Alas, my dream of outrigging would have to wait, as it was already May and I still had to open my yoga studio – which was my main focus. 

Jump ahead to December: my yoga studio was in full swing. I even had a steady class schedule with regular yogis – which is shocking and humbling considerng the first classes I ever taught were AWFUL! Anyway, I worked my ass off to overcome being a sucky teacher and I was in a groove, it was finally time to look up outrigging. I decided to check out some "meetups" in the area and I found one called Hano Hou out of Balboa Island in Newport. Every sunday a group of paddlers meet to play ukelele, share a pot luck meal and paddle. Hilarious and perfect (never did I envision my life going in this dirction btw). I attended my first meetup and met paddlers from the various outrigger teams in the area: Dana Outrigger, Newport Aquatic Center, Imua (Newport) and Offshore (Newport). I quickly learned that outrigging is very competitive as folks from the different clubs (there for some low-key, off-season paddling) tried to recruit me.

I lived in Laguna Beach right across from the water, but Laguna doesn't have a harbor so I would need to either join Dana (Dana Point, CA) or one of three teams out of Newport Beach. 

I looked online and Dana was holding open "tryouts" every weekend during the months of February and March. Boom. Awesome. I made a mental note to check back early Feb. Errr That didn't exactly work out as planned. I got so consumed with snowboarding I completely forgot!!! I did eventually remember just in time for their very last tryout/practice.

I showed up and made team! Full disclosurer: anyone who shows up and pays dues makes the team! haha Your athletic ability, desire, commitment, age will all factor into where you rank (what boat you'll be in) come "race day".

The first year was my novice year, which is basically "freshman" year. While the entire outrigger team becomes your ohana (family), you'll always share a special bond with the men and women that endured all of those firsts with you during your novice year. Novice paddle against other novice in SoCal Outrigging Racing Association – which is home to teams from Santa Barbara to San Diego. It's somewhat comforting to know that the other teams you're going up against are just as terrified as you are. My very first race fell on my birthday, Saturday May 11, 2012 and we actually placed 2nd! 

I was beyond lucky to spend three glorious seasons racing with Dana Outrigger. The friendships are magical, energy is palpable, growth is spiritual and the mentorship priceless. Dana Outrigger is more than just a club;it's a loving family of friends/teammates and olympic level coaches that dedicate their lives to the betterment of the club and community. These coaches honestly (somehow) turn average, everyday humans into elite athletes. I'm not exaggerating. Someone truly needs to do a reality show on outrigging, especially Dana!!!








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