THE WHITSUNDAYS has a new outrigging club.
The Shute Harbour Outrigger Canoe Club was established in 2022, as part of the North Queensland Australia Outrigger Canoe Racing Association.
The North Queensland racing zone allows the Shute Harbour team to race multiple clubs from areas around Darwin, Thursday Island, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone.
The difference between outriggers and other canoes is that an outrigger canoe is double hulled.
Its steadiness is due to the distance between its hulls, which are lengthier and slimmer than single-hulled canoes.
The Harbour Outrigger Canoe Club currently consists of 11 people but is slowly attracting new members.
The racing season typically runs between March and November, with regattas commonly held once a month, anywhere between Gladstone and Cairns.
Currently, the club is training for the Sydney Harbour Challenge, an open ocean race.
“We have a few members travelling down to compete in this event, which is an open event to national and international paddlers alike,” secretary Blake Broadwood said.
“We generally train a few days a week, throughout the year, for our normal zone regattas.
“However, for special events like Sydney Harbour, we’ve been training around 10 hours a week on the water plus off the water sessions to prepare.”
The Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing Association (AOCRA) is partnering with the Bondi Outrigger Canoe Club to host the racing event.
“It is with great pleasure that we welcome athletes, coaches, sponsors, officials, guests and supporters to our iconic Sydney Harbour Challenge event, hosted in partnership with Bondi Outrigger Canoe Club,” a spokesperson for AOCRA said.
“We are thrilled to invite all AOCRA members and international paddlers to form teams for this world-renowned event and race 22kms in and around one of the world’s most beautiful harbours, with water views of big-name attractions.”
Also approaching for the Shute Harbour Club is the regatta at Yungaburra, on the Tinaroo Dam, on March 25, which consists of single and team events, both short and long course.
“There are actually two clubs in Airlie beach, us and Club Outrigger Whitsunday, which has dozens more members than us and has been around since the sport’s origins in Australia,” Mr Broadwood said.
“Anyone from eight years and up can paddle, we have a member who is 72 and still paddling!”
“There is no experience required, so it’s a good sport for lots of different people. It caters for people who just want to socialise and do some exercise, up to those who want to compete internationally for prize money.”