ELITE: Members of Club Outrigger Whitsunday at one of their last trainings before the National Sprint Titles this weekend.
ELITE: Members of Club Outrigger Whitsunday at one of their last trainings before the National Sprint Titles this weekend. contributed

Paddling for sprint glory

IT WILL be a mad dash to the finish at the 2019 National Outrigger Sprint Titles, the apex of sprint events on the Australian Outrigging racing calendar.

One thousand metres doesn't seem like much, but when it's a sprint for first place from start to finish it can feel endless and Club Outrigger Whitsunday are hot contenders for first place.

Club Outrigger Whitsunday member Michelle Lynes said the event is the "Crème de la crème" of sprint events.

"We wouldn't be going if we didn't think it was going to be worth our while," Mrs Lynes said.

Organised by the Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing Association (AOCRA), the competition takes place at Lake Kawana on the Sunshine Coast from February 1 - 3.

The competitive, but close-knit team are driving 11 hours down the coast for the titles and legend of the sport, Mark Bell divulged a training schedule for the team, which has focussed on building their anaerobic fitness

"Mark set up a program for us in November, and we've been training four times a week since then," Mrs Lynes said.

Club Outrigger Whitsunday president Nick Bellinger said the team was well prepared for the national titles.

"The paddlers have attended specific sprint training over the past two months in preparation for the National Title events and will be competing against some of Australia's best paddlers,' said Mr Bellinger.

It'll be a hard and fast start for the athletes, as they aim push themselves out in front during the first 200 metres, keeping it long and strong for the finish.

"After the first 250 metres, it gets hard," Mrs Lyns said.

"You just want to stop but you find something within yourself and you just keep going."

Members of Club Outrigger Whitsunday have competitors in the junior, mixed masters, senior and golden masters divisions over 500 and 1000 metres distances in the V1 (rudderless canoe), OC1 (ruddered canoe) and OC6 and OC12 (six and 12 paddlers) events.

Club Outrigger Whitsunday Senior Masters team members attending the event include Tania Faust, Michelle Lynes, Maree Mullett, Mark Bell, Glen Bray, Sean England, Geoff Harrison, Terry Kemp, Henry Mauri and Joe Wilson.

Coby and Ella Doblo will be representing Club Outrigger Whitsunday Junior Team.

The pair will be teaming up with the Gold Coast Outrigger Canoe Club juniors' team to compete in the OC6 & V12 events.

Miss Doblo will also be competing in the OC1 event and teaming up with the Redcliffe Outrigger Canoe Club in the V12 event.

Mrs Lynes said the team had faced some challenges in the lead up to the competition.

"None of us have had the perfect lead up. There's been a few injuries, and an illness that we've had to overcome.

What doesn't kill them makes them stronger, and Mrs Lynes said that experience would be a driving factor in overcoming the setbacks,

"Most of us have been doing this for a very long time now, we're always training for something, so you just take the setbacks like injuries and illness in your stride," she said.

Key competition for the Whitsunday Outriggers include Coconuts outriggers canoe club in Innisfail, Mission Beach Outrigger Canoe Club, Malanuka Outriggers from Mackay, as well as two clubs in Townsville who pose a threat to the Club Whitsunday Outriggers.

However, the team took out the club champions for North Queensland last year, beating 17 other clubs who all vie for the same trophy.

Club Outrigger Whitsunday wishes to thank its major sponsors of Abell Point Marina and Reef Cool Air Conditioning of Airlie Beach for their valued and continued support.


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