Last weekend saw young paddlers from The Dam Outrigger Canoe Club travel down the hill to compete in the 12th annual Marlin Coast Challenge, hosted and run by the Port Doaglas Outrigger Canoe Club.
Four students from Malanda High School joined forces with the Hekili Outrigger Canoe Club from Yorkeys Knob and The Coconuts Outrigger Canoe Club from Innisfail to form the ‘Young Guns’ team to compete in the event.
The Young Guns mixed team took part in the 43 kilometre ocean challenge against two adult mixed teams, with the Young Guns eventually winning the gold medal for the V6 (six person outrigger).
The race itself is an endurance relay starting at Yorkeys Knob and racing to Port Douglas with each paddler required to paddle two of the four legs in the event. There was optimal calm waters and hot temperatures that the Young Guns experienced in the open ocean paddle along with jellyfish, dolphins and the reef all clearly visible below the surface.
The combined team obviously gelled well together to compete and win their category in the open event, with the team receiving many compliments on their form from fellow competitiors in the single and double canoes, and from spectators and well-wishers.
In addition to three mixed teams there was another adult mens in the OC6 that had travelled from Papua New Guinea to race in the Marlin Coast Challenge, and for many of the members of the PNG national team it was their first time visiting Australia and competing on the beautiful Marlin Coast.
The Young Guns strived hard to remain competetive by trying to push themselves up another category and competing against the athletic all male visitors but had to be content with winning the mixed team V6 instead.
This is an outstanding effort for the Malanda High School students, especially to win their category. It says so much about their character, team skills and competitive nature in a very competitive global sport.
The Dam Outrigger Canoe Club is always looking for new youth and adult members to enter the sport. The club has a shed on Tinaburra Drive in Yungaburra and paddles on Lake Tinaroo. Any young people or adults who are interested in joining them for a paddle are invited to come along on either Monday and Thursday at 5.00 pm or Saturday at 6:45 am.