Early Morning Sprints on Catseye Bay

Hamilton Island women’s crew PIC Hamilton Island Photography

Hamilton Island women’s crew (Photo: Hamilton Island Photography)

With a 6.30am race briefing there was no sleeping in for paddlers on the first day of racing for the OC6 class of outrigger canoes in the 2012 Gatorade Hamilton Island Paddling Event. Short sprints are just what you need to get the blood flowing (especially if you’ve been lazing around in bed for the last three days with the flu). What better way is there to start the day?

Friday morning saw 500m sprints in the 6 man canoes and Saturday featured the 1000m sprints. I have to confess that I felt a few hysterical giggles as our Hamilton Island women’s crew lined up for the 1000m race over the 250m long course. No pressure really – all you have to do (as the steerer, sitting at the back of the canoe) is get your 45ft, 550kg crew and canoe around the marker, without running over the marker or straying outside of your lane, and in our case avoiding the poor old Port Douglas crew next to us that capsized during their turn.

All 6 paddlers working together to make a turn, with the steerer working hard at the back! (Photo: Hamilton Island Photography)

Thank goodness for a fantastic group of current and ex-Hamilton Island women with a bit of Hawaii and Brisbane thrown in for good measure. Heck, we were happy for our women to make the final, and were ecstatic when our men got a bronze. All good fun!

At the other end of the field, Northern Beaches seemed to be the only club name I heard from the commentators on the beach along with Port Douglas, Cronulla, Brisbane and of course Mooloolaba and Outrigger Australia.

The OC1 and OC2’s head out around the island in the 16km marathon race (Photo: Hamilton Island Photography)

The OC1 and OC2’s head out around the island in the 16km marathon race (Photo: Hamilton Island Photography)

The OC 1 and OC2 paddlers started a day earlier, on Thursday, so were well ahead of the game. I was impressed by the Senior Master men from Hawaii who took 7 out of the 8 places in their final. I loved seeing Cozette Reynolds from Northcliffe paddling an OC1 as a Golden Master Woman (60+ years).

In all cases the sprints were a warmup for the short marathons later in the day of 16km and 8km. An early start indeed!