IF only Wes Byrnes could have controlled the direction the wind was blowing.
The Port Macquarie Maroro Outrigger Canoe Club president admitted the weekend’s Australian National Outrigging Titles were challenging, but well worth the hard work.
“Weatherwise it was just picture perfect,” he said.
“(But) the downwinder on Saturday was going the wrong way; if we were doing a nor-east run I would have been chaired off into the ballroom.
“Because it was going the other way it was a really challenging race under the conditions.”
As a result, 14 of the 97 starters had to withdraw from the race once they hit the challenging conditions associated with Lighthouse Beach.
“That’s when the washing machine hit and a lot of them had punched their way up to that, then had to go through that and that started knocking them out,” Byrnes said.
“That was when we had to switch on and get our stuff together to get everyone back to land and make them safe.”
Byrnes was satisfied they ticked most boxes that ensured while all competitors did not finish the race, they were kept safe.
“We covered off on a few things that people don’t expect,” he said.
“We had GPS units on every paddler and support boat so we could track every one of them and they all had an SOS button in it so we could see if anyone needed assistance.
That’s when the washing machine hit and a lot of them had punched their way up to that, then had to go through that and that started knocking them out.Wes Byrnes
“It was hard work, it was challenging, but it was great for the club because we got a lot of good feedback from everyone.
The club president said overall they enjoyed hosting the titles and would do it again tomorrow, but they were also looking forward to a rest.
“I’m getting a lot of feedback saying it was one of the best regattas we’ve held for a very long time.”
In the ultra-short course division – a six kilometre race inside the river mouth on Saturday morning – Sarah Phillips and Phil Rudd won their masters mixed division in 40 minutes.
“It was their second race they’ve ever been in,” Byrnes said.
“In the OC2 division, Fiona Baker and Kerry Owens won gold in a time of an hour eight minutes and Karen Newman and Lyn Lovering won gold in senior master women’s OC2.”
The national titles will head to Perth next year, but Byrnes was already looking at putting a proposal in for future events in the Hastings.
“We will definitely be putting in for something down the track,” he said.
“We’ve held smaller regattas before and the numbers have been fairly low so it was easy to contain which was disappointing that we had those numbers because we put that work in for little return.
“This one when the numbers came in from international paddlers we thought we were on.”
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