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qathet paddlers heading to world championships

Suncoast Paddling Club welcomes new members for competitive, fun and fitness-based paddling
PADDLE CHAMPIONSHIP: Suncoast Paddling Club is sending two women’s teams and two solo paddlers to the World Sprint Championships in Hilo, Hawaii, in August.

Suncoast Paddling Club is once again sending paddle teams to a world championship event. 

“We are sending two club teams to the World Sprint Championships, in Hilo, Hawaii, in August, along with two individuals competing with other teams,” stated club president Bruce Layzell, in an email to the Peak.

Lyzell said the two solo paddlers from qathet going to Hilo are George Smith and Jim Underwood. Last August, Underwood competed in the Va’a Federation World Distance Championships, which were held in Samoa from August 10 to 19. In the Masters Men’s 60-plus age V6 race, Underwood was part of the bronze-medal-winning Canadian team.

"The two women's club teams are Masters 60-plus [in age] and 70-plus,” added Layzell. “They have been training four times weekly, with coach Matthews providing guidance and expertise to prepare for the world sprints.”

According to the Suncoast Paddling Club website, new members are always welcome for both competitive, fun and fitness-based paddles. Lyzell shared in a previous conversation with the Peak that many club members are competitive but some are strictly recreational, with a number of 60-year-plus paddlers bringing home medals over the years. 

For those without previous experience, Lyzell suggests participating in the fun and fitness outings to get the basics and cover off boat safety, get out on the water, get some exercise and have some fun, without the riggers of preparing for race season.  Club members paddle out of Powell Lake Marina on Wednesdays at 5:30 pm and out of Hummingbird Cove on Saturdays at 10 am, from April to September. 

The competitive-based paddling and training runs 12 months of the year, paddling out of Powell Lake Marina on Tuesday and Friday mornings at 10 am. 

Since 2022, Suncoast Paddling Club has seen an uptick in members. Layzell attributes the increased number of folks interested in the sport to social media and local media presence the club has had in the community, as well as hosting paddle days in June, which welcome the public to Powell Lake to try outrigger canoeing.

The paddle club has four OC6 (six person canoes) and a number of OC2s and OC1s boats are located at Powell Lake. 

“With the help of several generous grants over the past few years from the Powell River Community Forest, the club has been able to purchase two canoes, a trailer and coach boat, allowing us to offer paddlers in the qathet region access to first-class equipment, as well as coaching from our internationally qualified coach Michael Matthews.”

Layzell said the Matahina canoes the club acquired will be used specifically for the competition in Hawaii. Matahina type canoes are used by the majority of the top paddling teams in Tahiti, Hawaii, Australia and the United States.

To find out more about Suncoast Paddling Club, go to

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