Broken Bay Writers – Stories of NSW Central Coast and beyond

Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!

Outrigger Racing is not for the Faint of Heart!


 

 

Outriggers on Ettalong Beach.

Outriggers on Ettalong Beach.

 

I attended the Outrigger Canoeing National Competition here in Ettalong Beach this recently (May 9,10). It was spectacular! If you don’t know what an outrigger canoe is, it is a canoe with an outrigger attached to the side of it to give it stability. It’s roots are Polynesian.

Preparing for the outrigger race.

Preparing for the outrigger race.

 

 

These races are long. I have to say it gives you an appreciation of the stamina these paddlers must have. Their sprints can take about an hour to complete. To me that is mind boggling!

One thing I did notice was the camaraderie amongst the paddlers, not just on their own teams, but the sport in general. On the last race of the day on Sunday, one of the outriggers flipped as there were very large waves and a ground swell. The rest of the competitors made it back, but you could feel the tenseness in the air until it was radioed in that all of the paddlers were okay. This is not a sport for the faint of heart. These people paddle in the ocean and often experience bad weather.

I worked in a food tent (concession stand) all weekend selling chicken, steak and saugsage rolls. In Canada these would all be called burgers and hot dogs! On Saturday and Sunday morning we offered bacon and egg rolls. This would have been called an “bacon & egger” or “McMuffin” in Canada. It is funny how you notice these small differences when living in another country.

Pop is another difference. First of all, it would not be called “pop”. It would be a “soft drink”. Of course “Coke” is universal, but not much else is. The have “lemonade” which is “Sprite”. They have a drink called “Lift” which I think is like a “lemon pop”. It’s enough to make your head pop – or is that soft?!

 

Outrigger crossing - tricky maneuver!

Outrigger crossing - tricky maneuver!

Working in the concession stand allows one to meet lots of interesting people. All of the competitors and their families were very friendly people. I can’t imagine how many times I was asked the question “where are you from”? Must be the accent!!!

 

The weather was wonderful on Saturday. The sun was shining, but it was not too hot. On Sunday, it was a mixed bag, it would rain and then clear up. The rain certainly didn’t dampen any spirits.

Ettalong Beach seems to be able to offer the perfect spot for Outrigger competitions. The beach is large enough to hold all of the canoes and competitors without being crowded, as well the water is calm, great for launching and starting the race.

There are lots of different options for racing courses. If the winds starts to blow too hard, the course could be moved to inside waters without moving the starting point.

Outriggers at the start of the race.

Outriggers at the start of the race.

 

 

 

 

Ettalong also has the perfect spot for spectators to view the races. There are many places along the beach that offer sweeping views of the waterfront. This allows spectators to watch the canoes for quite some time before they disappear around the corner and race off into the wild blue yonder.

There are many people in Ettalong Beach who are working very hard to bring new washroom facilities and upgrades to the waterfront. Once this is achieved, I believe Ettalong Beach will be able to host “world class” Outrigger competitions with confidence.

 

Outriggers heading out - Lion Island behind

Outriggers heading out - Lion Island behind

The beach, local Outriggers club, businesses and volunteers are ready. Check us out next year. You won’t be dissapointed!

Outriggers National Championship 2009

Outriggers National Championship 2009

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