Fassifern’s Steve Dawes says the last time he took his canoeing club to the Pan Pacific Masters Games the paddlers came home with so many medals they got caught in the metal detectors at the airport.
“We won more than 100 medals. We got first, second, third in a lot of races,” Mr Dawes, the coach of Newcastle Outrigger Canoe Club, said.
“We’ve got double the number of people coming this year so we hope to get more than 100 again.”
The motley crew of 24 recreational paddlers, aged between 30 and 72, will come head-to-head with Australian and international competitors on the waters off Southport this weekend.
“It’s the Tahitians that everyone tries to beat but can’t,” Mr Dawes said.
“Tahiti and New Zealand are the really strong ones. The Southeast Pacific is a big place for outrigging.”
The Newcastle club was packing up its boats on Wednesday night in preparation for the trip to the Gold Coast games, where the club is fielding 36 teams and individuals in multiple events.
“The longest races are 12 kilometres, which take about an hour,” Mr Dawes said.
Outrigger canoes are differentiated from other canoes by the arm that connects a boom or second hull to the boat’s side. They are believed to be related to early canoes used by voyagers in the Pacific to travel to Polynesia, New Zealand and Hawaii.
Mr Dawes says the sport is enjoying a modern renaissance.
“It’s just relating to nature,” he said.
“It gets you away from life but still involved in nature.
“The beauty about the sport is that it’s using your upper body, so it’s not so hard on the walking gear when it doesn’t want to walk anymore.”
Mr Dawes said the club was competing in the biennial games as training for the national titles in early 2019.