Huli Technique Reminder

Huli Technique Reminder (training video mahalo Charles Hamper)


An OC6 can go over for many reasons. Too much weight on the right, wind, rough seas, or mistakes made by the sterns. Knowing how to rescue your canoe and paddlers is required within the first year of a new crew and practiced yearly by all experienced crews. Each crew will have different types of bodies in their canoes and so it is not always ideal to have set seats doing set jobs in the recovery. Each crew is encouraged to develop their own set of roles for their paddlers that make the recovery as efficient and quick as possible. However, for the purposes of instruction, we will assume certain seats perform certain roles.

All paddlers call out their numbers and/or look for your buddy. Someone can be on the other side of the canoe, so buddies check for them. Bodies can also get caught under the spray deck. Paddlers may need assistance in getting out of the canoe. Once all paddlers are accounted for:

Seats 4/5 hand your paddles to seat 6. Seats 2/3 give paddles to 1 or all paddlers will insert their own paddles into the canoe between the seat and the hull. Seats 1 and 6 are to be stationed at the bow and front manu and are responsible for keeping the boat pointed into the wind/waves. This positioning is to place the greater of the wind, waves and swells off the left side from the 9 o’clock to off the nose at the 12 o’lock position to help keep the canoe from another huli once righted.

Seats 2/5 will be ama “pushers”. Station yourself UNDER the ama, to push it up and over.

Seats 3/4 will be ama “pullers”. Using the iakos closes to the canoe attachment area, climb up onto the hull and then placing both feet on the muku, you will reach over the hull and hold onto the iakos. Once everyone is in position, the pullers will pull towards them, the pushers will push the ama up and the canoe will re-right. Please land the ama as gently onto the water as possible.

CAUTION: in windy or rough conditions, the ama may not go over the first time. Pushers will need to be careful of the ama doesn’t come back down onto their heads.

Busting your ama open during this procedure is a real concern, so, pullers, do not let go of the iakos, simply fall back with the canoe. If you raise your arms over your head while holding onto the iako, it will brace its impact against the water.

At NO POINT, should any paddler be trying to get out of the water, climb onto or brace the canoe using the ama.

Once over, seats 1 and 6 are still positioning the canoe into wind/waves but can start placing paddles into the canoe if they have them.

Have one person hold the canoe down by sitting on the iako at the canoe attachment or hanging off the iako at the same location. You can have two people doing this if paddlers wish to get in on the non-ama side.

Two paddlers can enter the canoe and start bailing.

CAUTION: not all paddlers can get in at once as you are at risk of swamping the canoe.

As the water levels inside the canoe are reduced, a third paddler can get into the canoe and assist and then eventually, all six. One person should balance the ama by sitting at the iako attachment. Once water is down to the ankles, some of the crew can commence paddling while the others continue to bail.

Hulis can be hazardous from an injury perspective. Paddlers have been hit by muku, iakos and amas, but this usually happens when paddlers attempt to “jump out” of the canoe as it is going over. The best plan is to simply roll with the canoe rather than try to jump out of it.

As mentioned, there are lots of modifications to the huli plan but you have to have the crew all on the same page for your procedure. For example, you can designate certain people to be pushers and pullers depending on their height and weight. If there is someone who is especially nervous in the water, get them into the canoe first and give them the job of bailing which will take their mind off being nervous. If there is someone who needs assistance getting in, discuss who is going to assist and how? These are plans your crew needs to decide on in advance. It is recommended that the crew review huli procedures and roles prior to racing and prior to entering any rough water conditions.

For paddlers who have difficulty with re-entering the canoe, you should have your own (or borrow a club’s) huli strap which acts like a stirrup to put your foot into and assist with levering you back into the canoe. A club instructor can assist you with learning how to use one.
Small Canoe Huli

Do not let go of your paddle and stay in contact with the canoe.

You can either swim around to the non-ama side of the canoe and reach over to the iako and pull the canoe back to the upright position. This enables you to be between the canoe and the ama and stabilizes the canoe while your pull yourself back onto the cockpit area. Place both hands on gunwales and while kicking with your legs, launch yourself up and over the cockpit area to your waist. Gently swing your leg over or twist yourself to sit “side-saddle”. Try not to re-huli. If you have difficulty doing this, you may want to consider a huli-strap (see below).

The second method is to take the overturned canoe, on the ama side, and push the canoe/iako back over. You need to be careful to not slap the ama down hard or to let go of the canoe, because in windy conditions, it could fly away. This method results in you being on the non-ama side for entry. When you launch over the cockpit, it is easy to re-huli but safer for the integrity of the ama. If you cannot re-enter from the non-ama side, swim around or under the hull and approach from the ama side.

If you lose a seat or your paddle, do not swim after them. Stay with your canoe at all times. After re-entering the canoe, you can attempt to retrieve floating items or if you need to, return to a safe location or come ashore.

If your small boat breaks apart. Stay with your hull if possible, since it can act as a large floatation device. Ensure you have contact with your PFD to assist with personal flotation. Climb out of the water if possible and get onto the hull of the canoe and go ashore. Enlist assistance from your buddies in terms of making sure they stay with you until you have made it safely to shore. The canoe is not as important as your safety if you need to ditch the canoe to swim ashore. Ensure you remain in contact with your PFD.