Noosa Outriggers face the Sydney Harbour Challenge

The Sydney Harbour Challenge was first held in 2014 and is the most iconic outrigger canoe race in Australia attracting teams from California, Hong Kong, Singapore, Hawaii and New Zealand, together with teams from all over Australia.


The challenging 22km course and spectacular scenic backdrop of the Harbour Bridge and Luna Park has seen the race expand year on year, and 2018 was no exception with the clear day adding to the spectacle.


Thanks to the good weather and organisation of the event by AOCRA (Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing Association), the first race for mixed crews started on time, just off Manly Cove.  Noosa was represented by a Master Mixed crew (40-50 years olds, even though the majority of the crew were much older than that), comprising Wendy and Des Mabbott, Greg Moore, Brian Rogers, Debbie Cormack and steered by Tina Standish. The team finished in 7th place out of 38 crews, in 1 hour and 57 minutes, and just missed out on a medal position in the Master division.


The second race was for the women’s divisions and competing in this race were Noosa’s Senior Master Women (50-60 years), consisting of Cath Mckee, Rose Edyvean, Jill Bingham, Tracey Sjogren, Tracey Horan, and steered by Stacey Phillis. There was also a Noosa Master Women’s crew (40-50 years), Jacqui Irving, Bernie Patterson, Lysette Van-Dooren, Kristen Brinkworth, Kerrie  Felsman, steered by Pascale Hegarty, and a Golden Master crew (over 60 years), with Rhonda Crockford, Dee Mooney, Ellie Sinclair, Sandy Kennedy, Jackie Barnes, steered by Chris Mitchell.  The wind had picked up a little which meant that the return leg was a bit of a slog, but the girls persevered and the Senior Master Women came home 2nd in their division (7th across the line) in 2 hours and 15 minutes.  The Master Women came 5th in their division in a time of 2 hours 28 minutes, and the Golden Master Women won their division in 2 hours 31 minutes.  As the girls got out of their canoes, smiles abounded – it was a good race.


The third and final race of the day was for the men with the Noosa Senior Master Men’s team consisting of Greg Williams, Chris Horan, Maurice Farrell, Peter Hoffenberg, Bob Hobart, steered by Rainer Hopf, representing their club well in what was a highly competitive division.  The wind was stronger still so their time of 2 hours and 2 minutes was very good and gained them 6th position in their division. 


The races were livestreamed, and canoes were fitted with trackers, so that their friends and supporters could follow their teams on their phones, tablets etc., as they negotiated the course. Live streaming of all three races attracted an audience of more than 84,000 viewers worldwide!


All in all it is a great event and with such a wide domestic and international audience reached it is expected that the Sydney Harbour Challenge will continue to go from strength the strength.


Noosa crews next compete at Hervey Bay with 14 crews travelling North to compete in the fourth race of the South Queensland OC6 season.

By Jo Searle.

Hawaii via Takapuna, New Zealand

In the outrigger canoe racing community, there is one race above all others: the Molokai Hoe. The Molokai Hoe is the premier race on the outrigging calendar and is on every paddler’s bucket list.

“Molokai Hoe” runs between the Hawaiian Islands of Molokai and Oahu, finishing on the world famous Waikiki Beach. It totals approximately 67 km in distance and is described as a changeover race. Races of these epic distances involve a crew of nine paddlers alternating between a six man canoe and its support craft, with in water changeovers of refreshed paddlers. For the Molokai Hoe this will take in excess of five hours of gruelling, mind destroying and body breaking paddling in the open ocean.

This year on 7 October, the Noosa Outriggers Open Men’s crew known as “the Loggerheads”, will take on the world’s best at Molokai in the toughest of all the divisions – the Open Men.

So with such a massive task ahead of them, the Loggerheads headed to Takapuna, a suburb in North Auckland, to start their campaign.

The Takapuna Beach Cup is New Zealand’s version of the Molokai Hoe, but on a much smaller scale. The Takapuna Beach Cup is a 42 km changeover race that leaves the beach at Takapuna and heads east around the islands of Rangitoto, Motutapu and Rakino, and back. It attracted all the best crews from around the Pacific and gave the Loggerheads a taste of things to come and an indication of the crew’s ability. The Loggerheads performed out of their skins and finished sixth in a hugely competitive field in a time of 3 hours 36 mins. The experience and knowledge gained will go a long way to making their journey to Molokai a successful one.

Now, with the Takapuna Beach Cup under their belts, the boys turn their attention to continuing their training and preparation for the six man South-East Queensland Season and National Titles, as well as another prestigious 42 km changeover race, the Gold Coast Cup in April.

In the coming months keep an eye out for the Loggerheads in their Noosa canoe churning up the Noosa River and Laguna Bay, and be sure to lend your support as the boys have a long hard road ahead.

If you would like to follow the Loggerheads’ campaign, they can be found under the name of Noosa Loggerheads on Facebook and Instagram.

By Jo Searle


Noosa paddlers head across the ditch for a marathon in Takapuna

A favourite venue of Noosa Outrigger Canoe Club is Takapuna, on the north shore of Auckland, New Zealand. This is the home of Taniwha Outrigger Canoe Club and the site offers a perfect location for outrigger racing, so with some excitement four Noosa teams travelled to the land of the long white cloud to test themselves against our Kiwi cousins.

The event was held over three days, with day one very much a fun race of 5km, for the familiarisation of canoes and conditions, especially for teams outside of New Zealand who rarely get to paddle their type of six-man canoes called mahi-mahis.
Saturday was the big day with a number of race distances on offer. Conditions were calm and overcast, but the spring tide made for a slow run.  All crews performed admirably. 
The 18km race was entered by Noosa’s Senior Master Mixed (50-60 years) crew, ‘The Dream Team’, consisting of Lysette Van-Dooren, Nerilee Arnett, Mary-Ann Chaffey, Bob Hobart and John Henry, steered by Roger Chaffey.  They competed in the Master Mixed division as there weren’t enough senior paddlers for their age division, and they came a very respectable fourth.   Their overall time was 1 hour 44 minutes and 21 seconds.

The longer 35km iron race was entered by the Senior Master Mixed crew, ‘The Philharmonics’, with Wendy Mabbott, Tina Standish, Bodo Lenitschek, Bill and Cecily Ridderhof, steered by Phil Bensted, and the Golden Master Men (over 60 years) ‘The Night’s Watch’, consisting of Des Mabbott, Colin Barker, Harry Crockford, Greg Moore and Don Smith, steered by Marco Rocco.  The Philharmonics placed second in their division in a time of 3 hours 41mins and 38 seconds, and the Night’s Watch had to race a division down into the Senior Master Men’s category as there was a limited number of 60+ crews, but they still came second in that division, in 3 hours 25 minutes.

The 45km changeover (relay) race was contested by Noosa’s own Open Men’s crew (30-40 years), also known as ‘The Loggerheads’.  In this race, a total of nine paddlers take turns in paddling and resting on board a support boat with frequent changeovers.  The Loggerheads managed to place sixth in this very competitive division, with a time of 3 hours 36 minutes and 25 seconds. You can follow the intrepid campaign of this crew, simply go to Noosa Loggerheads on Facebook and Instagram.

The following day was devoted to junior and relay races on single craft.  Large numbers of paddlers like to enter this race but unfortunately the availability of canoes is always an issue. Des and Wendy Mabbott are regular attendees at this event and maintain contact year to year so were fortunate to acquire a canoe for the event. This is one outrigger event that has some spectator appeal as the course is 4km and each member of a relay team of two completes three laps with a handover back at the beach whereby the incoming paddler jumps off the canoe, runs for a short distance over a timing mat to return to the canoe to tag their partner.  With well over 100 canoes at the start, the first change was a bit frantic but this soon settled down as the fleet spread out.  After 35km of paddling the day before, arms and backs strained to complete 24km but the Noosa dynamic duo of Des and Wendy Mabbott, who won this division last year, again won gold in the Golden Master Mixed division, in a total time of 2 hours 30 minutes.

These were a great set of results to complete the Takapuna campaign and a good way to prepare for the Sydney Harbour Challenge the following weekend.

By Jo Searle.

Noosa paddlers kick off the racing season at Redcliffe

Noosa paddlers kick off the racing season at Redcliffe ...

The 2018 regatta season kicked off at Bells Beach, Clontarf and Noosa paddlers were out to make a statement entering eighteen teams in the four senior races.

Moreton Bay has a reputation for unsettled and wet weather but this time there was little wind, hot sunshine and just a few waves on the bay.

Two long courses (one for women and one for men) were set for 16km but GPS and race times indicated that the course was in fact closer to 19kms! The course was from Bell’s Beach into the bay then up the coast towards Redcliffe and return.

The women’s and mixed teams long course race was first with 22 crews setting off together. As they disappeared into the distance the men kicked back under the tent preparing for their upcoming race ordeal.

Around 1 hour and 35 minutes later the lead crews approached the finish line with Noosa Senior Master Women coming home second of the women’s crews in 1 hour 41 minutes to win their division. The next Noosa team home and crossing the line fifth overall was the Noosa Senior Master Mixed in 1 hour 42 minutes placing second in their division.   Then in tenth place was Golden Master Mixed in 1 hour 45 minutes also winning their division.  Noosa Master Women finished on 1 hour 48 minutes, placing second in their division and Golden Master Women finished in 1 hour 48 minutes and 52 seconds, also placing second on their division.

The men’s long race then followed the same course, with a touch more wind offering a technical downwind leg. Once again the Noosa teams showed their mettle with Noosa Open Men second overall and also in their division in 1:26:18. In hot pursuit and ninth overall were the Golden Master Men in 1:33:05 to win their division with the other Noosa Golden Master Men crew second in a time of 1:38:13.  They has a royal battle around the course with Noosa Senior Master Men just 24 seconds behind to come fourth in their division.

Junior teams were next to paddle, so Noosa crews took the opportunity to seek shade, rest up, recover and talk stories to willing or unwilling ears.

The women’s 8km short course was next with an opportunity to put novice teams to the test. Noosa has recruited well this year and was able to field three teams in the novice division. The first Noosa team steered by Tina Standish was home in 1 hour 1 second, just 12 seconds behind the top placed Novice team from Tweed Coast. The two other Noosa novice teams both experienced a huli (capsize) with one team still managing to place third in 1:08:28. Unfortunately the other team was had to pull out of the race.  This was a great introduction to racing for these women and the many smiling faces indicated that they had a fun time.

The last race was the Men’s and mixed teams short course which gave coaches the opportunity to change crews around if needed. The Noosa results for this race with 26 crews overall were Open Men second overall and in their division in 34 minutes 34 seconds, Golden Master Men sixth overall and first in their division in 37:30, Senior Master Men twelfth and third in their division in 39:36, Senior Master Mixed seventeenth and first in their division in 40:48 and Novice Men 22nd and first in their division in 43:55.

After the race the canoes and equipment were loaded onto trailers in super quick time and the crews all enjoyed a laugh and social over a cold beer before heading home.

Credit: Jo Searle.

Noosa Paddlers Shine at 2018 Outrigger National Sprints

Noosa Paddlers Shine at 2018 Outrigger National Sprints ...

The 2018 Outrigger National Sprint championships took place over the weekend 3 -5 February, at Kawana Lake. Teams gathered, from all over Australia to do battle in the hotly contested events for personal, team and club supremacy.

Racing involved: OC1 (Outrigger Canoe 1 person); V1 similar though rudderless; OC6 (6 crew); OC12 (12crew). Divisions are Opens; Masters 40+; Senior Masters 50+; Golden Masters 60+; Platinum Masters 70+. Competitors can be Men; Women or Mixed. Distances contested are over 500 metres straight and 1000 metres with three turns

Noosa as usual was at the pointy end of the championships, finishing third overall of the 30 clubs contesting the titles. That result added at least some sunshine on what was otherwise a very gloomy, wet and windy three days.

Congratulations to all paddlers who competed in what was, weather aside, a great three days of racing and very rewarding for many of our members.  Results for the Noosa Outrigger Canoe Clubs club included:

Gold Medals were won by OC12 Platinum Master Mix; and also OC6 500m. In other OC6 events, Platinum Master Men 500m turn and 500m straight, Golden Master Mixed 1000m, Senior Master Women 500m, and Master Mixed 500m. Also, gold in the individual OC1 Platinum Master Men 500m.

Noosa won Silver in OC6 events including Platinum Master Mix 500m; Platinum Master Women 500m; Golden Master Mixed 500m and 1000m; Senior Master Women 500m; Adaptive Men 500m. In addition silver for the individual V1 Golden Master Women 500m.  

Bronze Medallists were OC6 Senior Master Women 1000m, Golden Master Men 500m and the individual OC1 Golden Master Women 500m.

NOCCies NOC the Rock

NOCCies NOC the Rock

Norfolk Island is a fascinating place to visit. It’s a beautiful green island, with a wonderful coastline, friendly people and an amazing history involving Polynesian settlers, convicts and settlement by Pitcairn Islanders.

So it was with excitement and some nervousness that teams from Noosa Outrigger Canoe Club travelled to the island to compete in the annual NOC the Rock festival of outrigger paddling.

The event was established four years ago by the Norfolk Island Wa’a Outrigger Canoe Club and has developed quickly to become a big draw for teams from Australia and elsewhere. The event offers open ocean racing around the island, quoted as being 26km but in reality a bit further. In addition teams can paddle on other days to compete in a short course of 12km to Phillip Island and back, and a time trial event held inside the reef at Emily Bay over a distance of about 1km incorporating one turn.

The first race was the Round Island and as the men assembled in readiness to compete the heavens opened and a fierce thunderstorm with impressive lightning caused the race to be delayed. We were told this was the first time in living memory for many islanders to experience such an event. The men finally got into their canoes alongside the harbour wall where just the day before several 2-3m bronze whaler sharks were cruising to dine on scraps from filleted fish that the local fishermen threw into the water.

Then they were off, with crews in smooth waters racing for honours. Part way round the island the uniqueness of paddling in Norfolk was highlighted as the canoe course took the paddlers through a natural arch through the basalt rock formations. You couldn’t help but shout out to hear the echo.

Supporters drove from point to point around the island to cheer on the paddlers while others remained glued to the local radio station which was broadcasting regular updates on the race.

Noosa’s team of Meerkats and Beerkats (Golden Master Men) secured the GMM trophy in a time of 2 hours 29 minutes and 55 seconds, and fifth position in the field overall. The crew was Ian Vivian, Don Smith, Graham Woods, Garry Hanlon, Greg Williams, steered by Roger Chaffey.

Next up were the mixed and women’s teams including a treasured man, Noosa’s very own Big Kahuna, Hughie Bingham, competing in his first overseas race, after paddling for more than 10 years. Even more special was that he was paddling with his daughter Jill who had hatched the plan to bring him to Norfolk Island. That is certainly special enough but Hughie is 85, yes, 85 years old. Paddling with these two to make up the ‘Hughie’s Mob’ crew were Warren White, Martina Gerdemann, Wendy Mabbott and steerer Des Mabbott.

By the time this race was underway the breeze had picked up and the crew were constantly urged to ‘lift’ to surf the small waves. They did this with aplomb and as result won line honours in a great time of 2h 33m 25 secs.  The team had gone to participate and go well but to be in the lead was beyond everyone’s expectations. Hughie defied his age and didn’t miss a beat. He is an absolute inspiration to his crew mates, his club mates and anyone who knows him. He became quite a celebrity on the island and was interviewed on radio and was hauled up to draw the tickets for the main raffle on the party night.

Next day the short 12km course was held, and the Meerkats and Beerkats men’s team was rearranged to include Brian Rogers, Glen Knoblauch, Don Smith, Greg Williams, Peter Whittington, steered by Ian Vivian. Another mixed crew, known as the ‘love boat’, consisted of couples Lyle and Graham Woods, Rhonda and Gary Hanlon and Mary Ann and Roger Chaffey.

This race traversed the channel between Norfolk Island and Phillip Island and again good conditions welcomed the crews. All Noosa crews performed well again with the Beerkats and Meerkats gaining the Senior Master Men’s trophy in 1 hour 3 mins, the ‘ love boat’ the Senior Master Mixed silver (even though they were all Golden Masters) in 1 hour 7 mins 54 secs, and Hughie’s Mob the gold for the Senior Master Mixed by a whisker in 1 hour 7 mins and 50 secs.

Thankfully the next day was a rest day before the sprints in beautiful Emily Bay. First up were the V1 races where Des Mabbott managed to stay on course and win his heat.

Then into the sprints where more medals were won by the Noosa crews – and what lovely medals made, would you believe, from Norfolk Island Pine.

So our NOCC paddlers certainly returned home with many great memories and their timber medals to treasure.

When golf balls and canoe racing collide … !

When golf balls and canoe racing collide!

The Noosa Outrigger Canoe Club held a fun regatta for members early last Saturday morning, before the days heat really intensified.  The 66 paddlers and 15 marshals gathered at Chaplin Park just after 5am to prepare the canoes and for final marshal briefings. “Know your river, know your sport” was the brainchild of NOCC coach Des Mabbott.

Teams jumped in any canoe to paddle to a designated sand bank, where a foot race through shallow water by a chosen runner from each team brought great entertainment for their team mates as they raced to collect a numbered golf ball that would determine the canoe their team would compete in.

Teams where then off to race to the first of their 11 checkpoints to complete tasks, with the fastest time to complete all 11 tasks and return to the shrinking sand bank a definite advantage for the final results.

Teams had to complete a range of physical tasks including swims, runs and an optional huli (capsize) – was it faster than two laps of Witta Circle? There were also a series of questions including knowledge of the canoes, and naming the water birds and lakes of the Noosa River – did you know there’s a Lake Como?

While there were some clearly stated rules for this fun event such as always reversing the canoe to the shore, there was also room for some, shall we say creative thinking. This was all at the risk of marshals giving time penalties which kept everyone guessing.

The morning provided a lot of fun and NOCC club paddlers got to know each other better, with paddlers from different training groups combining to make mixed teams. Everyone agreed it was a great event and that Des’ organisation was awesome. Most commented they can’t wait for the next one!

Now attention turns to more serious training for the upcoming 2018 National Sprint Titles 2-4 February at Lake Kawana (Worlds Qualifier).  Teams are also heading further afield to Norfolk Island for NOC the Rock 22-26 January, to Auckland New Zealand for the Takapuna Beach Cup, 16-18 February (18, 35 & 42km events) and to the Sydney Harbour Challenge 24 Feb (25kms – Manly Cove to Luna Park return). In addition, the 2018 South Queensland OC6 Series kicks off with Race 1 at Redcliffe on 10 February.

NOCC keeps paddling …. !

NOCC keeps paddling ...

The end of the OC1 and OC2 season in late 2017 didn’t see the Noosa Outrigger Canoe Club stop and rest.  There were fun events in December and much to look forward to in the New Year.

Noosa paddlers competing in the South Queensland zone OC1/2 series had a very successful season.  In the short course category, Noosa series winners included Des and Wendy Mabbot Golden Master Mixed OC2; Pip Kay Golden Master Women OC1; Deb Cormack Master Women OC1 (twice the points of her nearest season rival); and Di Arbuckle Platinum Master Women OC1.

In the long course category, Noosa series winners were Bill Ridderhoff Golden Master Men O/SKI; John Goller Master Men OC1; and Phil Benstead and Dave Patterson Senior Master Men OC2.

Meanwhile, OC6 training was picking up and in December Panamuna Outrigger Canoe Club hosted an OC6 Ocean Changer Relay event at Mooloolaba, which saw several paddlers doing their first ever change race with some fun results!  Next it was ROCC the SOCC hosted by Redcliffe Outrigger Canoe Club and Scarborough Outrigger Canoe Club, their inaugural, V12 Marathon and 250m Skins Regatta at Bells Beach, Clontarf. Another action packed day for all.

This weekend NOCC is hosting a fun event for its own club members on the Noosa River. “Know your river, know your sport” fun regatta is this Saturday 13 January.  If you’re near Gympie Terrace, The Sound or The Woods you might just see some canoe action!

The fun will continue for the Gold Coast Sprint Regatta 20-21 January, an opportunity for teams to race ahead of the National Sprint Titles in early February. To keep it more light hearted there will be an exciting round robin series over three rounds and a prize for the best dressed team.

Noosa is No 1!

Noosa is

In the happy wake of the recent Noosa River Race, the Noosa Outrigger Canoe Club was announced as the largest club in Australia.  Hosting the most club members is a great achievement and a testament to the coaches and club members who encourage and welcome new members all year round.

A Come and Try event was held in late September with more than 40 participants keen to try out this exciting water sport. A dedicated novice training program will commence soon to give the clubs newest members a great start to their paddling experience. If you’re interested, please contact the club now.

Formed in the late 1980’s with one canoe on loan, the Noosa Outrigger Canoe Club (NOCC) now has 11 canoes and myriad teams enjoying ocean racing throughout Queensland and at times internationally and several members are current or previous World Champions. There are also recreational paddlers who enjoy a quieter paddle in the beautiful Noosa River. Age is no barrier with NOCC members aged from their 30’s to 80’s! 

NOCC has its current home in Chaplin Park, Noosaville – you’ll see the canoes lined up on the foreshore. Operating from a couple of shipping containers and interlinking hand built cages, NOCC hopes to one day have a clubhouse befitting such a robust and successful club.

The recent Noosa River Race is testament to the success of NOCC, as it attracts large numbers of other club teams to its well-orchestrated regattas. A stunning blue sky day dawned to show the river at its best and a great day was had by all throughout this OC6 (six-person canoe) event.

In the women’s 8km short course, the Novice Women with Chris steering finished in 50 minutes 40 seconds and combined age teams W360+ steered by Val and Tina finished in 52:01 and 57:01 respectively. 

For the men’s 8km short course the Novice Men steered by Paul Brown finished in a respectable 47:16 and the combined age team M360+ steered by Rainer and Roger finished in 43:40.7and  45:44.9 respectively – it was a great battle! 

In the women’s 12km long course with a field of 15 teams competing, the W300+ team steered by Stacey claimed line honours and were first in their division in 1 hour 3 minutes 43 seconds. In the W360+ division, the team steered by Tina was first in the division in 1:08:01 and Chris’ team finished in 1:08:51. In the W240+ division the team steered by Paz finished in 1:08:31. 

In the men’s 12km long course again with a field of 15 competing teams, the M240+ teem steered by Paul Squires placed second in field in 56:05.3 and the M300+ team steered by Bodo was first in its division in 1:00:14.  There were four Noosa teams in the M360+ division, steered by Marco and first in division in 57:58.8; Roger’s team second in 1:01:17; Rainer’s team third 1:02:07.8 and Ken’s team fifth in 1:05:36.  In the M420+ division the team steered by Ted finished in 1:06:09.

The day finished with the fun of a relay event – 2 teams alternating over 4 x 5km laps with in water change-over of the team members. 8 teams from various clubs participated with the Noosa +600 team taking line honours and first in the division in style! The steerers were Stacey and Bodo and they finished in 59:07. Unfortunately, two teams were unable to finish – Tina and Rainer’s and Val and Marco’s.  In the -600 division, the Noosa team steered by Paz were first in the division 59:46.

If you would like to know more or to come & try …