The Northern Rivers Outrigger Canoe Club have conquered heavy swells and torrential rain to claim a bag full of medals from the annual Norfolk Island NOC The Rock Ocean Challenge.
Two six-person teams from the Ballina-based club battled the elements and competitors from across the country during the four day event from January 22-26.
The V6 Women’s master’s team took virtually all before them, bagging gold in the 26k marathon and the 12k middle distance race, and silver in the sprint.
The V6 Men’s team also put in a powerful performance, claiming silver in each of the three races in the men’s division.
The highlight of the racing week was navigating the infamous ‘hole in the rock’ which was half way round the 26k Norfolk Island course.
After paddling through a storm with torrential rain and very low visibility, the women’s crew almost missed the the large protrusion.
Luckily they were redirected by support craft and made a 400m detour to navigate the archway.
‘One minute we were paddling in monsoonal rain and could barely see 100m ahead and the next the rock loomed ominously before us,’ the club coach and vice president Lindy O’Brien said.
‘It was a wild ride through the archway – like being in a giant washing machine with the rear wave surge and the rebound off the walls.
‘We all let out a big ‘woohoo’ going through, enjoying the thrill of it knowing we were in safe hands with Head Coach and veteran steerer Denise Cooper at the helm.’
The women’s team was particularly proud of the fact that two members of the crew were novice paddlers, one of which did the 26k race as her first ever event.
They are already gearing up for their next big event – the Sydney Harbour Challenge in February.
For more information go to www.ballinaoutriggers.com.au.