Outriggers compete in Harbour Challenge /Newsport (copy 1)

Outriggers compete in Harbour Challenge

Thursday March 6 2014

Crews from the Port Douglas outrigger canoe club have competed in the inaugural 'Sydney Harbour Challenge' at the weekend.

More than 50 canoes lined up to compete in the 22-kilometre women's and mixed races, starting at Spit Bridge.

The challenging course took teams around Middle Head, turning towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge, past Luna Park and then back again.

Paddling in the open category, Kelly King, Karen McClure, Dani Bellero, Lilli Jansen Mia Messinger and Monique Johnson placed 6th.

Ms Johnson said the team was happy with their time of two hours and two minutes.

"Five out of our six paddlers are masters, and that time would have placed us amongst the top teams in that age group, so we were really happy with our performance," she said.

The Masters Mixed Team of Cecily Ridderhof, Liz Ryan, Peter Beitz, Winnie Shiroma and Ingrid Juchem encountered a major set back before the race even started.

"Our top male paddler, Lee Foster got caught up in a car accident on the way to the airport and missed his flight," Ms Juchem said.

"12 hours before the race we were franticly looking for a replacement."Our late recruit, Dave Forbes gave it his best shot but it  just was not the same. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the race."

The Master Men's crew of Vernon Carpenter, Justin White, Kevin Bellero, Trevor Woodward, Dimitri Stievano and Bill Ridderhof racing later that morning, started off well.

By the the half way point, they where battling for position with two other canoes.

"We had about a 100-metre lead on them, when we got a bit to close to the rocks at Middle Head on the way back," Mr Stievano said.

"It took us some time to get out of the swell and by the time they had caught up with us.

"It was a great experience paddling under the Harbour Bridge and race against Australia's Top Teams."

The club will now prepare for the first Grand Prix Regatta of the year help at Ellis Beach in May.

The club's new light-weight canoe will be used for the first on that weekend.