Super Challenge for Marlin Coast
SPIRITS were pumped and muscles flexed when 130 paddlers cut up the water when they took on the fourth Marlin Coast Challenge, a 38km outrigger canoe and surf ski race from Ellis Beach to Port Douglas.
The race consisted of four legs with beach changeovers at Wangetti, Oak, south end of Four Mile Beaches with the finish opposite Rex Smeal Park.
It was a spectacular sight with 64 craft on the water and paddlers came from all over Australia including Darwin, northern NSW, Sydney, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Mackay and many local paddlers from Mission Beach to Port Douglas.
Hot and dry conditions faced the paddlers this year with light northerlies increasing to 15 knots over the day which was a very different scenario to the 20 knot downwind run that everyone enjoyed in previous years.
The paddlers skills were tested mentally and physically with the contrasting conditions.
At Four Mile Beach, just as the last paddlers were coming into the beach, a Severe Weather Warning was issued and thunder and lightning whipped across the sky giving organisers no option but to cancel the final leg of the race.
“It was terribly disappointing as we knew the storm was going to pass but the safety of the paddlers always comes first,” organiser Faye Lilley said.
After the announcement all paddlers were happy to head back to the Outrigger Pavilion where a pasta feast and cold beer awaited them.
“It was a pretty tough slog down the coast so I don’t think the decision upset too many people,” Faye said.
The race has grown each year from 23 canoes in 2008 to a record number of 64 canoes this year and continues to attract some of Australia’s top paddlers.
A two-hour breakfast paddling clinic was held at the Combined Club on Sunday morning where two of the best paddlers in the world Travis Grant and Chris Maynard had everyone spellbound with their inspiration talk.
“Without the fantastic support of sponsors Court House Hotel, Cairns Regional Council, Capricorn Star, Port Douglas Catering, Maui Jim, Origin Espresso, AOCRA NQ Zone, Hunt Design and the Port Douglas Coastguard plus a great little team from the Port Douglas Outriggers behind me this race would not be possible,” Faye said.