Outrigger Cup win for Cronulla
THE historic Outrigger Cup, one of the world's toughest changeover marathon canoe races has been won by the powerful Cronulla crew ahead of perennial contenders Mooloolaba.
Conditions for the 42km Clash of the Paddles at the weekend were ideal for technically strong paddlers, with wind and strong swells requiring decisions from steerers in the rear and position one paddlers at the front, who set the tempo and stroke rates for the rest of the crew.
Cronulla, regulars at the annual event, made light of the conditions and held off a strong challenge from Mooloolaba to claim both overall honours and the open men's division. Papua New Guinea finished third in the opens after finishing fifth overall.
Mooloolaba's masters crew finished third overall to claim the masters men's crown ahead of Hawaii with Hamilton Island snatching bronze.
Cronulla's win capped a dominant performance for the NSW crew which two days earlier took out the 16km event, beating home Mooloolaba's open men's crew with New Caledonia third.
Hamilton Island's open men's crew finished fifth in the 16km race.
In the open women's 42km division, Mooloolaba held off Hawaii.
Mooloolaba masters women had taken out the 16km crown, beating home the club's open women's team. PNG finished third in the women's 16km event.
Northern Beaches claimed the win in the mixed teams division, edging out Mackay-based Malanuka with Caloundra a distant third.
The marathon bought to a conclusion a fierce four days of competition, and with racing over sprint and distance events completed, competitors let their hair down in the traditional Sunday night street party.
Honours were shared in the ocean ski events.
Michael Booth, who returned as the defending champion in all three distances, began his title defence in style with a narrow win over Mackenzie Hynard in the 3km event.
Five-time Olympian Clint Robinson ensured there would be no repeat cleansweep for Booth when he claimed top honours in the 7km event. Booth finished a close second with reigning ocean ski world champion Cory Hill third.
Booth was also forced to settle for second in the 25km event with Hill beating him home by the narrowest of margins. Robinson was also in the mix after the 25km downwind paddle from Lindeman to Hamilton.
With significant prize money and competition points on offer in the World Series race, none of the trio were prepared to give an inch, but when Hill hit the sand first he managed to hold on over the short sprint to the line and claim the key victory of the weekend.
The ocean ski element of the Clash of the Paddles, now included for the fourth year, is going from strength to strength.
And with quality paddlers like Hill, Robinson and Booth lining up the event should continue to flourish for years to come.