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Paddlers from qathet region head to Samoa for world championship

Suncoast Paddling Club punches above its weight

Once again outrigger paddlers from Suncoast Paddling Club (formerly Powell River Outrigger Paddling Club) are heading to a world championship, this time in Samoa in the South Pacific.

The club is home to recreational and competitive paddling in qathet Regional District.

“Friday, August 4, the paddle club will be seeing off six paddlers on their journey to the Va'a Federation World Distance Championships in Samoa,” said Bruce Layzell, who was recently elected president of the club. “The women's team is holding its final practice on Powell Lake on Friday and then a number of us will wave goodbye and send them off on the ferry to Comox.” 

The all woman, 75-plus (years of age) crew will represent Canada in the World Outrigger Distance Championships in the Polynesian island country of Samoa, located south of the equator halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. The world championship takes place in the City of Apia from August 10 to 19.

The crew heading to the tropics are: Sue Hanson, Sue Milligan, Lynnette Mangan, Sue Humphries, Helen Robinson and Ruth Matson.

“This follows their gold medals in two successive World Sprint Championships in 2018 and 2022,” said Suncoast Paddling Club outrigger canoe coach Michael Matthews. 

According to Layzell, four of the women going to Samoa won in the long-distance championship that took place in Tahiti in 2018, and three were in the sprint championship in London, England, in 2022.

“There is a lot of experience on this team,” said Layzell. “The accomplishments of our small club on the world stage are really quite something.”

Coach Matthews emphasized that the 2023 championships in Samoa involves a 16-kilometre distance race against the best (outrigger paddlers) in the world.

The team regularly practices on Powell Lake, but distance races take place on the ocean so the team has been practicing at Mermaid Cove in Saltery Bay to get used to currents and waves.

“One of our men [Suncoast Paddling Club members], Jim Underwood, was also selected to compete with the Canadian men's team in the 60 [year-old category] in Samoa, and will also be competing at the Queen Lili race in Hawaii afterward,” said Layzell.

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