Newcastle Harbour will host the state’s largest inter-club outrigger canoe racing regatta on Saturday, attracting hundreds of competitors from NSW, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.
The Pasha Dasha Grand Prix, hosted by Newcastle Outrigger Canoe Club in association with Newcastle City Council, returns to the city after a two-year hiatus for its seventh incarnation.
The event has returned to the Australian Outrigger Canoe Racing Association’s NSW Zone regatta schedule by popular demand.
Registration figures show at least 54 teams from 18 clubs will take part in the short and long-course races, which range from 4.5km to 27km. Teams from Ulladulla, Canberra and Port Macquarie will be joined by clubs from Queensland.
Hunter paddlers will be well represented with 14 crews involved.
Race director Stephen Dawes said the location of the race would allow spectators to watch from close vantage points along Nobbys breakwall and the foreshore.
“Outrigger canoe racing is one of Australia’s fastest growing water sports and a big plus for this event is that the public can see close-up all the action that usually happens out at sea,” he said.
“Our course includes both flat water and open ocean racing, starting inside the harbour near Horseshoe Beach and running out along the inside of the southern breakwall before heading out into the open ocean off Nobbys Beach.”
Mr Dawes said the unique “crew changes” format would make for an exciting day of racing, beginning with the first race at 7.30am.
The main event, the long course 27km race, will begin at 12.30pm and is expected to take about three hours to complete.
“The crew changes format in our 27km long course race is also unique. Instead of the usual six person crew, each team has a crew of nine people, with crew member swap-outs permitted on Horseshoe Beach after each 5.4km lap,” he said.
“So the 27km race is effectively broken up into five separate races of 5.4km with crew members swapped after each lap before a general restart.
“Our format benefits paddlers not confident of doing crew changes in open water; allowing them to build better experience in a competitive situation; and it also provides paddlers with extra race start practice which includes the thrill of close racing.”