Clash of the Paddles – Hayden Quinn

Andrea Francolini © Images from photographer Andrea Francolini.


12.30pm: Arrive on Hamilton Island, the last time I was here was for the first Instameet last year and I told everyone (quite loudly) how I paddle, love it and it’s my passion, (I commentate for the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Iron Man Series) and that I was keen to race and spend some more time on this beautiful island. And I’m back.

1.30pm: Heading over to Beach Club restaurant for a seafood risotto with sparkling water. Good way to ease myself into pre-race island life. There’s always a competitive side to racing, these guys are world-class athletes but it’s fun, an experience doing activities I love with friends. I’m here with six mates, who’ve come from all over Australia.

I know I won’t win; all the big names in surf ski are here; Clint Robinson, Dean Gardiner, Jeremy Cotter. That’s confidence for you…



5.30am: Up early, really looking forward to today, I’m good in the morning.

6.30am: I’m commentating on OC1, 250m outrigger canoe sprint races today at Catseye Beach, with Pete Murray. The races are great, spectators all over the beach, nice atmosphere, everyone is having such a good time, so much energy out here.

10.00am: Late post-race breakfast at the Beach Club restaurant: poached eggs, spinach, toast, baked beans, bacon, chamomile tea, and one croissant with butter and jam. Hungry work commentating.

11.00am: Back to Catseye Beach to watch the 8km outrigger marathon. There’s a great atmosphere, masses of people out to cheer on the competitors and watch the races. Competitors and spectators have come from Hawaii, Hong Kong, all over the place, I love it.

1.00pm: Head to the marina for lunch and end up at the island’s fish and chip shop, Popeye’s. Wolf down a half chicken and chips with gravy and an endura (electrolyte) drink.

2.00pm: Get my gear organised on the grass in front of my room at the Beach Club, perfect place close to home and close to the water, I’m making sure it’s all good to go, these crafts are complicated.

3.00pm: More race watching, the 16km outrigger marathon is on now. It’s awesome.

6.30pm: I’m with the boys at Manta Ray Cafè, carb-loading to keep up my stamina for tomorrow, having a penne chorizo with added chili and green beans as a side, washed down with a beer. We laugh a lot. I’m really happy to be here and ready to compete, bring it on.

10.30pm: It’s late for me, usually like to be tucked up by 9pm. Bedtime.



6.00am: A race day protein shake with chia seeds on waking, it’s going to be a 16km surf-ski day for me. Conditions looking good from my window.

7.00am: I down a full breakfast at the Beach Club restaurant resisting the croissant, no sugar hit before the race!

11.30am: 8km pre-race warm up, check equipment working and body in order – all working, luckily.

1.00pm: Pre-race fueling with crisp breads and peanut butter, an endura (electrolyte) drink and a beetroot juice shot – a good source of nitrogen in the blood and is sort of like a natural EPO.

2.00pm: Race starts, it goes the whole way round the island, from Catseye Beach back to Catseye Beach. I know what I’m getting myself in for, as I know the top end guys, but it’s still a tricky thing judging the currents, wind direction and navigating. It’s massively good fun out on the ocean, nice conditions, a bit of a tail wind at times and a few fun runners.

2.35pm: Take in mainly liquid over this distance. A half / half mix of Gatorade and water in my bladder. One energy gel.

3.16pm: Cross the finish line in 16th place, pretty happy with that. Clint Robinson first place with a great time, 01:16:08.

3.45pm: Protein shake with chia seeds to repair the muscles, the body’s worked hard.

4.30pm: Really hungry so I down half a chicken and chips, no gravy this time :(

7.00pm: Big feast at coca chu restaurant, probably my favourite spot on the whole island. Can’t say exactly what we had as there was so much!!! But loved the chicken and betel leaves, so good, post race contentment finally.

9.00pm: Off to bed now.



6.00am: I forgot to have my beetroot shot!

7.00am: Get on barge with our surf-skis and head to Lindeman Island.

9.00am: It’s started and we all fiercely paddle back towards Hamilton Island, tricky conditions out here, thought there were going to be incredible runners (when the wind whips up small waves that you can surf on the ski) but the tide and the wind are running in the same direction, so that’s knocking a lot of the runners down.

11.06am: It’s a hard slog back but I’ve made it, I’m 27th out of 50 competitors, first place is Clint Robinson, again! His time is 01:34:30, but the sun’s out and I’m with friends. Life’s good.

12.30pm: A well deserved helping of greedy food after a big race; love this, a bacon, egg, cheese, BBQ sauce wrap with hot chips from Popeye’s. No post race stretching, my exercise is Cross Fit in the gym five days a week and yoga most mornings.

6.00pm: A few beers in the Bougainvillea Marquee followed by a big serve of lasagna and salad.

7.30pm: Appearance ‘on the couch’, a chance for fellow paddlers to interact with with Clint Robinson, Ky Hurst and myself. Pete Murray is on the mic, he opens it up to the floor, there are lots of questions coming our way.

10.00pm: Bedtime, tired, good day.



9.00am: Heading to qualia to watch the tough 42km outrigger six man changover race.

9.30am: Starting now at Pebble Beach, this is a hardcore competition, athletes battling it out. 58 crews are taking part.

12.00pm: The Outrigger Australia Open Men’s crew have just won with a time of 03:02:50, a good clear win, tight close finish for second and third, and for fourth as well, everyone cheering them on, going mad, lots of outrigger clubs here, great setting. Great end to the racing. It’s been world class.

5.30pm: Beers on Bommie Deck.

7.00pm: Last dinner at Sails; rib eye on the bone, medium rare, bèarnaise sauce, wedges plus some extra bug’s tails and another beer to wash it down.

8.30pm: After party on Front Street, 1980s themed, a big hoorah, the whole street.

10.00pm: Slip away early, I’ve done my share of partying. Here’s to next year.